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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

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Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« February 5, 2007 | | February 9, 2007 »
February 7, 2007

Mid-level changes in the horseshoe

Three changes today in the governor's inner office, two involving new employees and one with a new title.

One of the newcomers is Bob Gore, a veteran of the Deukmejian administration who has since been working with the insurance industry, as a government affairs consultant and with a health care consumer group. He is going to be a deputy cabinet secretary in the horseshoe, working for Dan Dunmoyer, another former insurance industry hand.

The other is Lisa Page, a former account manager for the Perry Communications Group who worked on the governor's re-elect. She'll be a deputy communications director working for Adam Mendelsohn.

The internal change comes with the bump of Jimmy Orr from chief deputy communications director to "Special advisor to the govrnor for Internet Communications." Orr, you might remember, was the brains behind "BarneyCam," which turned the president's dog into a videographer and put the result up on the White House Web site. He's been working with Schwarzenegger over the past year to vastly upgrade the governor's Web site with frequent live webcasts, blogs and other bells and whistles.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:06 PM

Schwarzenegger on immigration

Catching up on some old business – the tapes of the governor speaking privately with aides – the sexy parts obviously were his personal barbs directed at legislators, including Republican and Democratic leaders.

But after reading transcripts of all four conversations, I thought the most interesting part was his earthy, blunt assessment of the immigration issue (and not just because one of my columns came up in the conversation).

The immigration discussion was a rare glimpse at a politician working through a tough issue, one on which he is conflicted, and seeing how his mind works. And it wasn’t very pretty.

Schwarzenegger, speaking to speechwriter Gary Delsohn, says the 1986 amnesty and immigration reform “f----- the American people” because it legalized millions of immigrants while promising better enforcement of the border and employer sanctions, which never materialized. He complains about farmers wanting cheap labor but not being willing to pay for their workers’ health care. He compares the situation of illegal immigrants to “squatters” in Zimbabwe.

“They come and land, you can’t then get rid of them,” he says.

But then Schwarzenegger turns compassionate, or realistic, and acknowledges that it makes no financial or human sense to try to round up 12 million illegal immigrants and send them home. Many, he says, have children here who are citizens, or grandparents who are frail.

“So how do you split that family up?” he asks. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

The governor then talks about the proposed border fence, which he says he doubts will work because it will either have gaps, or immigrants will tunnel beneath it, or both. Plus it reminds him of the Berlin Wall, and he worries that it will send a message that we consider Mexico to be an enemy.

He swings back again and complains about a shopping center in the Los Angeles area that was built entirely for Spanish-speakers, and he says that it reminds him of Mexico City. He complains that too many Mexicans don’t seem to want to assimilate into the dominant American culture the way he thinks earlier waves of immigrants have done. He compares Mexican immigrants to house guests who refuse to leave or help with the family’s chores. Interestingly, on this sensitive issue he notes that while he has mentioned it gingerly, he can’t really share his true thoughts in public.

“There are certain things you can’t say,” the governor tells his speechwriter.

But it turns out that Schwarzenegger did say some of these things in public later on. Probably because he knew that his Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, had a copy of the recording and might leak it at any moment.

You can read the entire conversation in a PDF file you can download here.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:38 AM



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Daniel Weintraub


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