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California highest percapita jail population outside china { November 18 2003 }

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Arnie starts remake of California

Tough decisions await governor after low-budget inaugural bash

Duncan Campbell in Sacramento
Tuesday November 18, 2003
The Guardian

It is the perfect last scene in any movie, from Rocky to The Candidate. The plucky contender who no one imagined would win triumphantly addressing his supporters.
Yesterday, an Austrian bodybuilder turned film star turned into the governor of California, in charge of the world's fifth-largest economy.

"I am an idealist without illusions," Arnold Schwarzenegger told an invited audience outside the state capital building in Sacramento. He was quoting the words of President Kennedy, into whose family he married.

"I have big hopes for California," he said. "President Reagan spoke of America as the 'shining city on the hill', I see California as the golden dream by the sea. Perhaps some think this is fanciful or poetic but to an immigrant like me who, as a boy, saw Soviet tanks rolling through the streets of Austria... it is not fanciful to see this state as a golden dream."

The new governor went on to say that the eyes of the world were upon them and it was time to do "the extraordinary".

The menu for the new governor's inauguration lunch contained such suitably Austrian items as bockwurst, weisswurst and bratwurst "with hearty mustards". Now Mr Schwarzenegger has to explain what will be on the menu for Californians amid the cash crisis and just how strong will be the mustard they may need to digest for economic revival.

More than 7,000 invited guests, 600 members of the media and 50 satellite vans descended on Sacramento for the ceremony. There was no big, inaugural, black-tie ball, however, as a nod towards the parlous state of the economy.

Since his defeat of the incumbent Democrat, Gray Davis, in the recall election on October 7, the new governor has made appointments from across the political spectrum. He has chosen a high number of women for senior posts, which his advisers may hope will blunt any criticisms from women's groups angered by the governor's alleged groping activities in the past.

The key role of finance director has gone to Donna Arduin, infamous for slashing state spending in other Republican-held states. She has already come under fire from Democrats who suggest her main targets will be programmes for the poorer parts of the community. Last week, Ms Arduin said she had reviewed the state's financial situation and found the confusion "breathtaking".

The new chief of staff is the Republican party veteran Patricia Clarey, who served the previous Republican governor, Pete Wilson. Mr Schwarzenegger has also appointed his business colleague Bonnie Reiss as a senior adviser. The new cabinet secretary is Marybel Batjer, the press secretary Margarita Thompson, both likely to have high-profile roles.

Challenged by the state's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, as to how he was going to address the groping allegations, the governor said earlier this month he would hire a private eye to examine the claims and see if there was any foundation in them.

The last major appointment before yesterday's ceremony was of Roderick Hickman, a former prison guard and a Democrat, who will head the state's prisons. Mr Hickman worked in the politically powerful prison guards union, the Correctional Peace Officers Association, before working for Gray Davis.

The union was one of Mr Davis's biggest financial backers and he duly returned the favour by increasing their pay by 7% this year. A major financial burden for California is its prisons which contain 162,000 inmates, the highest per capita jail population outside China, each costing some $26,000 (15,300) a year to hold.

The new governor has appointed former the Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan as his education secretary. Mr Riordan considered running for governor but joined Mr Schwarzenegger. The current LA mayor, Democrat James Hahn and two ex-mayors from San Jose and San Francisco, also Democrats, have been part of the transition team, as part of the governor's pledge for a more inclusive approach.

He has until January 10 to draft a budget. The first key decision will be whether he seeks to overturn a threefold rise in vehicle tax, a campaign pledge. If he does manage to revoke the increase, a move which has legal problems, it would push the projected state deficit up to $14bn. He has pledged that school programmes would not be affected by cuts but has promised to trim workers' compensation rights and to make Indian casinos pay more tax.

Yesterday's menu did contain a link with the governor's previous life in Hollywood. Some of the wine came from the vineyard of the director Francis Ford Coppola.

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