Hawai`i makes waves in California politics

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was vacationing with his family in Hawai`i, despite daily press releases issued by his staff in Sacramento that he was holding “private transition meetings and discussions with members of his transition team.” Now, the spotlight is turning to a Thanksgiving week conference on Maui that’s expected to draw several California legislators.

Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, who officially takes office Monday, was in Hawai`i with wife Maria Shriver and their four children, according to the Reuters news service, which quoted “a person close to the family.”

Schwarzenegger’s spokesperson, Karen Hanretty, refused to discuss his whereabouts.

“We are not going to discuss his private time and what he chooses to do in his private time,” she told reporters. “On a daily basis he continues to work on establishing a new administration, regardless of where he is.”

Since his election, Schwarzenegger has already made several unannounced out-of-state private trips, including to Las Vegas and an Idaho ski resort, Reuters reported.

With the California state budget still in crisis, the story of Schwarzenegger’s alleged island vacation has been carried in papers across the country, and abroad. Press accounts of his first public appearance in several days — a funeral yesterday in San Rafael for a firefighter who died in the recent southern California wildfires — noted that he “looked tan.”

And California residents will probably be checking for tanlines on other elected officials this month, with a major meeting of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association taking place at the Sheraton Maui beginning Nov. 24.

Perhaps as many as 20 California lawmakers are expected to participate, many with their families in tow.

According to a report in The Sacramento Bee, the association — described as one of California’s most powerful labor unions — has been fighting to keep contracts that provide for a 37 percent raise over five years.

In addition to questions relating to the use of public or campaign funds for travel, critics of the gathering note that holding the meeting outside of California gives the CCPOA exclusive access to the state’s decision makers.

“You shouldn’t have to have a conference out of state to get legislators to attend,” Center for Governmental Studies president Bob Sterns told The Sacramento Bee. “Why can’t they have it in Palm Springs or San Diego?”

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