I feel like I can’t help but get really, really shrill with Arnold Schwarzenegger. See, the thing is that he’s now shown himself to be a petty, vindictive political animal. Nothing new, nothing post-partisan. He’s a politician who carries a grudge.
Case in point, Arnold vetoed the rather standard reauthorization of funding for the California State Bar. Basically, the State Bar is a quasi-governmental organization. Funding comes entirely from the dues of licensed attorneys. And while you can find plenty of attorneys (this one included) that moan about the dues, it’s not like there are any tea parties organizing.
Yet, it is clear that this veto has little to do with the fees, and a whole lot more to do with an unqualified judge: one former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian. If you’ve been reading Calitics over the past few months, you’ll have read about his nomination and subsequent confirmation as a judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal. Thing is that the Bar rated him as “not qualified.” But the part that really got them in trouble was the fact that the score got leaked to the press before the confirmation hearing.
Of course, I suppose it doesn’t matter that Chuck Poochigian isn’t qualified for the job. He was never a high-flying litigator with a vast record of trials. And he never served as a judge. Ron George, the Chief Justice, for his part, castigated the bar for not considering his political experience (although they actually did). The fact is that Poochigian really just doesn’t have the experience that you typically see for a judge. And the time in the Legislature? No, that’s really not the same thing.
This brings us back to Arnold vetoing the bill. He was simply pissed that the Bar didn’t play along with his little game for Poochigian, and basically stated that:
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger cited a recent audit critical of the bar and questioned the group’s “impartiality in considering judicial appointments.” The July audit found rising costs at the bar and poor internal controls, which allowed a former employee to embezzle nearly $676,000.
“The conduct of the State Bar itself must be above reproach,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto. “Regrettably, it is not.” (LAT 10/120/09)
Interesting that Arnold didn’t mind letting the Chiropractic Commission or the body that licenses nurses fester as they failed to do their jobs, jobs that affect the very health of millions of Californians. Yet, you mess with his political agenda, and you’ll get the horns.