Schwarzenegger: Your bills held to ransom

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in San Francisco this morning to make remarks to at the 40th Annual Association of Community College Trustees’ Leadership Congress. He did say a few words about what everyone’s talking about: the eleventh-hour negotiations on a water deal, for which the governor is holding to ransom hundreds of bills – some of which he admits could help the state, but which he might veto anyway if the Legislature doesn’t present him a water package he likes.

Just to let you that know I am going back now to Sacramento because we are in the middle of our negotiations. We are negotiating, and this is for a lot of people that are not from California you don’t know that, that’s why I want to tell you. We are negotiating right now to upgrade our water infrastructure. It is something that Pat Brown started in the 60s, and did a great job but it was never finished, our water infrastructure. They never built that canal, they never fixed the Delta and did all of those things because California at that point ran out of money.

So now we have been since decades talking about water infrastructure and we’ve got to bring it up to date. And of course I was elected and became Governor because people didn’t just want to hear the dialogue but they wanted to see action and that is what I am creating right now. Because we have heard enough excuses now that why they couldn’t get it done and why it’s complicated and why it’s difficult and all those kind of things, now we want to create the action.

So this is why we are sitting there, every day now, negotiating with the legislators and I made it very clear to the legislators and to the leaders that if this does not get done then I will veto a lot of their legislation, a lot of their bills, so that should inspire them to go and get the job done and to get the water for another 18 million people but for the 50 million people that we will be in the near future. By the time this water project is built which is 15 years from now we will be 50 million people. So this is why it is very important that we work, work, work to get it done before this weekend. So thank you very much and I am off to Sacramento.

The Big 5 convene at 11:30 a.m. in the governor’s office. (UPDATE @ 11:20 A.M.: Big 5 meeting pushed to noon, the governor’s office says — did he hit traffic on the way back from SF? And if the water bill is so darned vital in these final 48 hours, why’d he leave Sacramento, anyway?)

UPDATE @ 2:10 P.M.: “We can all agree that political extortion is not an acceptable practice in this state. But the Governor’s renewed threats are coming perilously close to extortion under the criminal codes and the California Constitution,” says Assembly Majority Leader and Democratic candidate for Attorney General Alberto Torrico, D-Newark.

More, after the jump…

“I have already asked the Attorney General to review this situation. I would ask the Governor to consult with his own legal team before he continues down this path,” Torrico continued in his news release. “The voters elect us to make and enact laws. But the Governor needs to remember he is not above the law. I would suggest he review the following criminal codes with his staff and legal team.”

Torrico cites Article IV, section 15 of the California Constitution, which says “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”

And he cites California Penal Code Section 85, which says “Every person who gives or offers to give a bribe to any Member of the Legislature, any member of the legislative body of a city, county, city and county, school district, or other special district, or to another person for the member, or attempts by menace, deceit, suppression of truth, or any corrupt means, to influence a member in giving or withholding his or her vote, or in not attending the house or any committee of which he or she is a member, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • BJD

    When the Govenator is out of office he wants more water for his home in So Cal.

    I hope all of us who live in the delta region join together to fight this. Call and voice your concern.

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    State Capitol Building
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: 916-445-2841
    Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )