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'Elitist' Arnold irks small towns

May 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lawmakers from small town California - with their quaint downtowns and peaceful fields - apparently need to get out more. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California, on Wednesday urged them to see the world."They come from those little towns, and they don't have that vision yet of an airport, or of a highway that maybe has 10 lanes, or of putting a highway on top of a highway," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "They look at you and say, 'Well, we don't have that in my town. What are you talking about?'"

The governor's comments didn't sit well on Thursday with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. There was also criticism.

"Many folks in rural areas aren't the simple country bumpkins that the governor thinks they are," said state Senator Dean Florez, D-Shafter. "I think it's really somewhat insulting to rural communities throughout California."

"I think the comments harkens back to a sort of elitism that isn't appropriate for California, or the politics of this state," said Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia.

The governor's office insists the comments were taken out of context.

"He wasn't in any way trying to disparage them. He was just suggesting to them that they travel abroad as well, and see what these other countries are doing, be inspired by that, and bring it back to California," said the Governor's Press Secretary Aaron McLear.

The governor also managed to upset government watchdog groups because he encouraged lawmakers to let special interests pay for these trips. Special interests often have business before the Legislature.

"When a lobbyist or special interest group pays for lavish travel for a legislator, they're doing them a favor. That creates an expectation that somewhere down the road that favor is going to be returned," said Derek Cressman from California Common Cause.

So far, there is no word on whether the governor will apologize to small town California or their elected officials.

 

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