- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

VIENNA, Austria — The Terminator has been terminated in his hometown.

Yesterday, a day after officials in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Austrian birthplace of Graz removed his name from a soccer stadium to comply with the California governor’s wishes, they deleted references to him on the city’s Web sites.

Mr. Schwarzenegger earlier this month wrote to Graz officials asking for his name to be removed from the stadium and ordering the city to stop using it for promotional purposes.

He was reacting to fierce criticism from opponents in his hometown who denounced him for refusing to block the Dec. 13 execution in California of Stanley “Tookie” Williams.

Late Sunday or early Monday, Graz officials took down the large metal letters spelling out Mr. Schwarzenegger’s name on the 15,300-seat arena. Yesterday, the mayor’s office said references to the actor turned politician were scrubbed from Graz’s main Web site and from a sister site devoted to the region’s sports scene.

“It’s all settled,” Thomas Rajakovics, a spokesman for Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl, told the Austrian press.

Although special folders and presentations devoted to Mr. Schwarzenegger were expunged from Graz’s official site, www.graz.at, the site still carried a news account of the renaming of the stadium, which had borne the governor’s name since 1997.

“We rewrote the contents a bit,” added Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, an official in charge of tourism in the city about 120 miles south of Vienna.

Williams’ execution triggered a firestorm in Europe. Calls mounted for the stadium to be stripped of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s name, but the governor opted for a pre-emptive strike: A week ago, he dashed off a letter to local officials ordering his name to be removed and said he was returning an ornate ring of honor that Graz officials gave him in 1999.

Capital punishment is illegal in Austria, where many people consider it barbaric. Opposition had run especially high in Graz, whose official slogan is “City of Human Rights.”

With the Hollywood star’s name gone, the sign atop the main entrance to the stadium now reads simply, “Stadium Graz-Liebenau,” a reference to a district of the city.

Mr. Rajakovics said Graz officials had the ring tucked away in the city’s safe in case Mr. Schwarzenegger asks for its return. He said it was premature to speculate on whether the ring would be auctioned off or publicly displayed as local press reports have suggested.

Last week, Mr. Nagl wrote to Mr. Schwarzenegger urging him to reconsider his decision to cut ties to the city and to keep the ring. Mr. Nagl said he reassured Mr. Schwarzenegger that most local residents still admire him despite fierce opposition to his stance on the death penalty.

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