Schwarzenegger takes oath as Calif. governor

Actor quickly rescinds increase in vehicle tax

November 18, 2003|By Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews | Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger took the oath as California's 38th governor yesterday, vowing to upend the political culture and humble the special interests through decisive action that would amount to the "Miracle of Sacramento."

The audience of 7,500 invited guests, including thousands standing and watching on big-screen televisions, interrupted Schwarzenegger for applause 24 times during the course of his 12-minute inaugural speech, with the loudest ovation coming when he renewed his promise to roll back the state's car tax.

Shortly after the 45-minute ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol, the new governor delivered on that promise, issuing Executive Order 1, which repealed the $4 billion increase that had been approved by the man he replaced - Gray Davis.

That was the first of a series of actions meant to draw a clear contrast with a Davis administration renowned for its caution.

Schwarzenegger issued proclamations to convene three special sessions of the Legislature aimed at overturning a new law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, cutting workers compensation costs and capping state spending.

In the sessions, to begin today, Schwarzenegger hopes lawmakers will place two measures on the March ballot - a constitutional amendment that would limit state spending and a bond issue to pay off the deficit accumulated during the last years of the Davis administration.

He also issued an order suspending 85 packages of regulations that the Davis administration had proposed in recent weeks, and he called for a review of Davis' handling of all regulations.

Schwarzenegger took the oath of office at 11:20 a.m., his left hand on a 1911 family Bible held by his wife, Maria Shriver. Shoulders square, he looked steadily at California Chief Justice Ronald M. George as he recited the words that completed the transfer of power from Davis, who was forced from office in a recall campaign that attracted national attention.

After taking the oath, Schwarzenegger quickly walked to his right and shook hands with Davis, who was standing on a section of the stage reserved for Republican and Democratic legislative leaders and former governors Pete Wilson, George Deukmejian and Jerry Brown. California's only other living former governor, Ronald Reagan, suffers from Alzheimer's disease and no longer makes public appearances.

The new governor then walked to a podium framed by flags and the California seal, where he delivered his speech, in which he cast himself as an avenging populist intent on restoring government to an alienated electorate and protecting "the dream that is California."

"This election was not about replacing one man or one party," Schwarzenegger said, looking out over the audience and a multi-tiered media riser that accommodated hundreds of journalists from all over the world.

"It was about changing the entire political climate of this state. Everywhere I went during my campaign, I could feel the public hunger for our elected officials to work together, to work openly, and to work for the greater good. The election was the people's veto for politics as usual.

"My administration is not about politics," he said. "It is about saving California."

Joining Schwarzenegger on stage were his family: his wife; mother-in-law Eunice Kennedy Shriver; father-in-law Sargent Shriver; and his four children - Katherine, 13, Christina, 12, Patrick, 10, and Christopher, 6.

Walking through the Capitol corridors with his family en route to the ceremony, the governor-to-be held hands with Christopher and told his son to "smile" for the cameras.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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