UPDATE: Maldonado's office has canceled the public signing, saying he monitoring emergency efforts near the site of the San Bruno gas line explosion.
When the governor's away, the lite gov will play ... the role of governor.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was wheels up for Asia yesterday, where he's spending six days promoting California's trade partnerships in China, Japan and South Korea.
While Schwarzenegger is out of the country, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado gets the job of acting governor.
And act he will. Today, Maldonado will put his John Hancock on legislation providing school funding and a land agreement touted as a job creator.
First, Maldonado will make a 9 a.m. stop at Synergy Charter School in Los Angeles to sign two pieces of legislation to funnel federal funds to schools.
Schwarzenegger requested that lawmakers send the bills, Senate Bill 847 and Assembly Bill 185, to his desk just hours before he left for Asia, leaving Maldonado in prime position to do the official signing.
The timing means Maldonado, who was appointed by Schwarzenegger to finish up the term of former Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, gets to flex his gubernatorial muscles less than two months before facing San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in hopes of winning a full term at the post.
Some are calling foul that the governor and his "soul mate" are playing games to boost Maldonado's chances in November.
"The mystery is solved: The governor wanted to give Maldonado name I.D. help in L.A." quipped Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Dem Darrell Steinberg.
Later in the morning, Maldonado will give the official OK to Oak to 9th, a land development project in Oakland the governor's office says will create jobs.
By the way, Schwarzenegger's trip takes him to China today, where he will tour a supermarket and meet with Jack Ma, the founder, president and chief executive officer of the Alibaba Group, an e-commerce site for small businesses.
RALLY: The NorCal Tea Party Patriots is holding a rally Sunday at the Sacramento area's McClellan Park. Rep. Tom McClintock, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal and Roseville Assemblyman Ted Gaines, a candidate for the 1st Senate District special election, are expected to attend the gathering, which aims to rally members in advance of the Nov. 2 election.
CAKE AND CANDLES: Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, celebrates her 68th birthday Sunday.
Bee colleague Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.