The Los Angeles Times
reports today that Governor Schwarzenegger wants to hand over millions
of dollars in state bond money to two of his corporate campaign
contributors, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern & Santa Fe
Prop 1B, the source of the transportation bond money
that voters approved at the ballot last November, was advertized as
money for highway safety, traffic relief, public transportation and
port security. Nobody ever mentioned private railroads.
$136,200 donated to the governor by Union Pacific (including $15K to
his glitzy inaugural ball) and $25,000 from Burlington Northern
couldn't have hurt their cause with Arnold. The two railroads also gave
$200,000 directly to the campaign to pass 1B.
(The same issue arose at the end of last year's legislative session when a last-minute bill
was passed to allow a private developer and large contributor to
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate pro Tem Don Perata to access
Prop 1C funds, the affordable housing bond.)
Arnold fancies himself a modern-day version of Hiram
the reforming governor who created the initiative process to
wipe out the influence of the railroads that
dominated Sacramento in the early 20th century. Almost one hundred
years later, Schwarzenegger is handing out money approved by the voters
through an initiative to the railroad industry. We have nearly come
full circle, with the initiative process a tool of the very special
interests Johnson set out to destroy.
You can judge for yourself if the Schwarzenegger administration is
distributing bond funds fairly, or if donors are getting a leg up in
the decision-making process. To someone's credit, the gov set up a
website that is supposed to prove the money's being spent fairly. Give
me your opinion on whether our money's been invested wisely or squandered.
Here's the site: www.bondaccountability.ca.gov