- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is complaining that California Democrats and union bosses are standing in the way of government reform and “want to destroy me.”

The remarks came less than two weeks before voters decide on a set of Schwarzenegger-backed ballot measures that could undercut the power of public employee unions and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

“I want to move things forward and … they want to destroy me,” the Republican governor said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s a self-serving government that’s all about them rather than serving the people, and it’s wrong.”

As an example, he blamed Democrats’ close ties to labor for the failure of a bill that would have offered subsidies to building owners who installed solar panels. Democrats insisted on a provision requiring electricians to be paid prevailing union wages.

“Never one single time during those negotiations did anyone on the other side say, ‘This is good for the people, this is good for the environment,’ ” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “No one talked about any of this. It was all, ‘No, we want prevailing wage.’ ”

He also said that an eleventh-hour compromise over some of his proposed reforms fell apart after Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez backed away at the behest of organized labor.

“We had the agreement, everything was there, then he said he had to go and ask the bosses and they said no,” Mr. Schwarzenegger recalled. “We sat down … and in the end he said he had to go to the union bosses to get permission. Can you imagine? Permission!”

Mr. Nunez strongly disputed Mr. Schwarzenegger’s account.

“The governor is so far behind in the polls, he’s resorting to these kind of comments. They are hallucinations,” Mr. Nunez said. He rejected the compromise because the deal “wasn’t good for California.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot would extend from two years to five the amount of time teachers must work to get tenure; require government unions to secure written permission from members before using their dues for politics; impose a state spending cap that would allow the governor to make midyear cuts; and strip lawmakers of the power to draw districts.

A poll released Thursday indicated none of the four had majority support among voters.

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