CaliforniaPoliticsProposition 77Special Election 2005

Flawed Prop. 77 Ignites New FLAP

What did California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger know and when did he know it? There is a new FLAP about the California Governor and the Sacramento Bee has, Flawed measure ignites new flap: Problem was known for a week before disclosure of redistricting ballot glitch.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration knew about legal problems with the proposed redistricting ballot initiative at least a week before the secretary of state’s office was contacted and the matter was publicly disclosed.

That and other disclosures Thursday by officials of the Governor’s Office and by leaders of the initiative campaign were seized upon by opponents as evidence that Schwarzenegger was playing behind-the-scenes, partisan politics with a cornerstone of his government reform package.

Why, of course, he was and the Assembly Speaker and Senate Pro Tem are NOT? Please!

Lance Olson, attorney for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, said the governor had a moral responsibility to disclose the legal defect before Secretary of State Bruce McPherson certified the measure June 10 and the governor called a special election three days later.

“I don’t know if they had a legal obligation, but they had an ethical obligation,” Olson said.

Peter Siggins, the governor’s legal affairs secretary, countered that the administration acted ethically and that his first impulse, upon learning of the legal problem, was to learn what he could do about the issue rather than react in haste.

Siggins said he would not have done anything differently.

“I’m not impetuous that way,” he said. “I’m more careful. I felt it very important to understand the legal ramifications of what happened and be able to more thoroughly discuss it.”

Siggins said that nobody intentionally waited until after McPherson certified the redistricting measure for the Nov. 8 special election ballot.

“It kind of caught us by surprise,” Siggins said of McPherson’s June 10 announcement that the proposal to overhaul how California draws boundaries for legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization seats had qualified for the ballot.

McPherson’s office learned of the problem on June 13, but did not seek advice from Attorney General Bill Lockyer until July 1.

And what importance does the time-frame make in any case? The California Attorney General’s lawsuit is frivolous at best and even the Los Angeles Times has urged its rejection.

Lockyer, through a spokesman, blasted the Governor’s Office and leaders of the initiative drive for untimely disclosure.

“If true, these new revelations are very disturbing,” said Tom Dresslar, Lockyer’s spokesman. “It’s particularly disturbing that the proponents and other parties knew about this problem and let the secretary of state certify this measure for the ballot. That’s outrageous.”

But, the Governor’s legal opinion was that the defects in the measure were MINOR.

Officials in Governor’s Office were personally involved in the ultimate disclosure.

Siggins and Daniel Kolkey, an attorney for the proponents, said they together met with Undersecretary William Wood on June 13 to notify the secretary of state’s office about the two differing initiative documents.

The two also agree on the following chain of events leading up to that day:

* Both Siggins and Kolkey learned about the legal problem at the same time through a joint telephone conversation with officials of Citizens to Save California, a business-oriented group formed to support Schwarzenegger’s agenda.

* Kolkey spent the next week, perhaps two, crafting a 10-page memorandum addressing legal issues related to the case and concluding that differences between the two documents were minor and that McPherson should place the initiative on the ballot.

* Kolkey and Siggins discussed issues involving the memo before it was finished, but neither remembers how often that occurred.

* When Kolkey finished the memo, the evening of June 10, he e-mailed it to Siggins and to a representative of Citizens to Save California. He said the purpose was to notify them, not to seek approval or to solicit changes.

Another tempest in a teapot – for nothing!

Watch for next week’s hearing Thursday, July 21.

Flap handicaps a 3:1 likelyhood the measure stays on the ballot.

Then, watch for the deal making negotiations between Nunez, Perata and Schwarzenegger intensify.

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Cross-posted to the Bear Flag League Special Election Page