(November 25, 2003) -- LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill met for roughly forty-five minutes today in Sacramento with CA's new Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mayor O'Neill, named to Governor-elect Schwarzenegger's transition team in October, was part of a delegation of seven Mayors from among CA's largest cities. The delegation included another transition-team member, L.A. Mayor James Hahn.
Just over a week ago (as previously reported by LBReport.com), Mayor O'Neill led a delegation of LB VIPs to Governor Schwarzenegger's inauguration.
"He's very receptive...and he'd like to work more with big city Mayors," Mayor O'Neill told LBReport.com. "He is genuinely interested in making CA better," she added.
Mayor O'Neill said discussion included the "car tax" or VLF ("vehicle license fee"), tripled by the Davis administration and repealed (as promised) by Gov. Schwarzenegger within minutes after being sworn in.
Sacramento was using the VLF to send CA cities a "backfill" to make up the cities' reduced share of car registration fees. For nearly a year, LB officialdom has lobbied hard to ensure that the backfill continues (with or without the VLF)...since losing the backfill would blow a multi-million hole in LB's already beleaguered budget (which, like CA, has major, mounting deficits.)
Mayor O'Neill said Governor Schwarzenegger assured the big city Mayors that the backfill would continue...although he didn't say specifically how that would be done. "We got assurances that he is going to work on the backfill," Mayor O'Neill told LBReport.com.
The Mayor indicated that the meeting included the Governor's chief of staff Patricia Clarey and the Governor's newly named Director of the Dept. of Finance, Donna Arduin.
"I was struck by the hospitality, openness and receptiveness in this first meeting," Mayor O'Neill said, adding "there is a lot of mutual respect."
Mayor O'Neill said the meeting helped establish a working relationship with the Governor and the Mayors were very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with him since this was only his seventh working day in office.
The Mayor indicated the discussion also included a general obligation bond ballot measure proposed by the Governor for the March 2004 ballot (tied to a constitutional spending limit) that would finance much of CA's current red ink over time.
The Mayor commented that she saw a "maze of press and TV stations" outside the Governor's office. Locally, we saw coverage on KCAL9...which showed video of the Mayors entering and exiting the Governor's office...along with a stand of numerous microphones from media outlets statewide.