No, it’s hardly the first question on everybody’s lips right now, but someone is bound to whisper in his ear at some point that some laws might be better off being, well, erased, from the state books. And Arnie has promised to clean house in Sacramento should voters send him there.
Before we all hit the floor laughing — and let’s face it, one of Arnie’s most charming traits is that he can laugh at himself — we should remember the fact that a lot of people didn’t take Ronald Reagan very seriously as a politician until the day they woke up and saw the Gipper grinning from the governor’s podium.
California, too, is the state where voters sent the late Sonny Bono to Congress and decided that Dirty Harry was yer only man to clean up the town of Carmel, a settlement already so varnished that you could almost eat off the street surface.
But back to MacBride. It’s not that Schwarzenegger might have anything personal against the fair employment principles aimed at jobs discrimination in Northern Ireland. He probably hasn’t even heard of them. But his party has.
Schwarzenegger is being described as a “moderate Republican” and that in itself might not signal trouble for California MacBride law.
But getting elected is often the easy part in politics. Making decisions, many of them compromises that you might not fully agree with, is the daily diet of a serving governor.
And who’s to say that on day one or two of a Schwarzenegger term there won’t be a call from an interested party about a certain law that has nothing to do with smog in L.A. or the price of watermelons in the Central Valley.
The fact of the matter is that the battle for MacBride in California over the last couple of decades was fought on partisan lines when it reached the gubernatorial level.
California has always been the “jewel in the crown” for U.S. MacBride campaigners, so there was considerable satisfaction four years ago when a bill was finally signed into law. The man who signed was Gray Davis, now battling for his political life in the face of an October recall election that suddenly includes one of the planet’s most famous faces and accents.
The Davis signature ended a 12-year battle and cleared the way for California’s huge pension system to weigh in behind the effort to force an end to a situation in Northern Ireland where Catholics were more than twice as likely to be jobless than their Protestant neighbors.
Under the law, California was required to support pro-MacBride shareholder resolutions at annual general meetings of companies in which state pension fund money was invested.
Additionally, the new law mandated the California Public Employees Retirement System, “CalPERS,” — valued at $137.8 billion on April 30, 2003, the latest date for which a value figure is available — and the California State Teachers Retirement System, to annually investigate if relevant companies were in compliance with the nine fair-employment guidelines named after the late Sean MacBride.
California’s constitution also allowed the state legislature to pull investment from non-MacBride-complying companies in the North if the legislature so voted.
The signing of the MacBride bill by Gov. Davis, a Democrat, followed three successive vetoes of California MacBride legislation.
Gov. George Deukmejian, a Republican, vetoed a MacBride bill passed by both houses of the California legislature in 1989. His successor and fellow Republican, Pete Wilson, cast his vetoes in 1991 and ’94. The ’94 veto was on the eve of the first visit to California by Sinn F