Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
So, now I’m reading that after all of the bills the legislature passed, the governor is going to reject them all unless he gets his way on water? Is the governor really going to veto all of those bills?
–Sullen in Sacramento

Hey Sullen,
I’m guessing, from your sign-off, that you’re some kind of legislation fan. I can’t imagine why you’d be sullen at the prospect of mass vetoes of the 700 or so bills before the Legislature, unless you’ve paid good, cold, hard cash to have one of those aforementioned bills placed on his desk.

Be that as it may, I’m going to put your hypothetical motivations aside for just a moment, and point you instead to Aesop’s 210th fable – The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

See where we’re going here?

The governor loves to make these big time threats, and then loves to wiggle out of them. Remember, he made a similar threat a couple of years back, and had to recant to sign a high-speed rail bill to ensure it got on the November ballot. Similarly, the governor has already backed off his overall veto threat by signing the Healthy Families bill this week.

Remember, when the governor made the threat, the Assembly and Senate pulled back all but one of their bills, and even dared the governor to veto it. That he did, even though the bill was a feel-good Vietnam Vets bill with a Republican author.

Big cojones, no?

Well, perhaps you’d like to know that later this week, the governor is going to sign that very same bill, even though the supposed bill embargo is still in effect, and there’s no water deal to speak of.

So, in effect, the governor is making idle threats. The sweeping pronouncements are good for getting cameras and headlines, but they’re not much of a governing tool. Inevitably, these types of puff-out-your-chest promises leave communications aides and other staff looking for a bit of wiggle room, knowing all too well that the inevitable threat-breaking is coming.

But this has been the governor’s style from Day 1. And there’s not much reason to believe it’s going to change anytime soon.
But there’s a problem with this strategy. One just has to look at what happened in Fullerton this week, and what’s going to happen in Indian Wells this weekend, to know what that problem is.

People are actually running for governor now. That sound you hear is the quacking coming from the corner office in the Horseshoe.
Yes, the end of this legislative year means the governor is now officially a lame duck. And while he’s never enjoyed particularly good relations with the 120 folks upstairs – excuse me, 119 and one vacancy – the threats are going to mean less and less as Schwarzenegger drifts closer and closer to political oblivion.

So did the governor break a promise by signing those bills this week? Well, you know what they say: If it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck…

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