At one point last Thursday, the line of cars waiting to drive through and sign Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's petition stretched out of Clear Channel's parking lot in Serra Mesa, down Granite Ridge Drive and around the bend on Daley Center Drive all the way down to Aero Drive, where a cop was directing traffic snarled by the governor's road show.Some motorists said they'd been waiting for more than an hour just to sign the petition, which seeks to place several of Schwarzenegger's controversial reform measures on a special ballot. Some got the chance to meet the celebrity weightlifter-turned-statesman as they drove through, but most were stuck in line long after the governor's shiny-black-vehicle convoy sped away from the Clear Channel complex.
The governor's public spectacle included a guest spot on right-wing radio-mouth Roger Hedgecock's show-Hedgecock is an unparalleled Schwarzenegger sycophant. The event attracted lots of press, who were corralled into a sort of paddock and not allowed to breach its outer limits-they couldn't get closer to the governor and they couldn't approach the admirers and protestors, who were held together behind other barricades. Asked why the media were being caged, a spokesman for the governor said it was for safety reasons, but he was unable to cite any potential dangers.
Out front on the sidewalk, one of the many union members protesting the petition signing, Jane Bausa, a public school guidance assistant, was in full sound-bite mode: "Our government-the state of California's government-is now turned to drive-in decisions, just like a drive-in McDonald's," she said. "A lot of these people are mesmerized by the governor because he's an actor."
Under Schwarzenegger's spell was Judy Brown, who was waiting in line in her Hyundai Santa Fe. "I'm here to sign the petition," she said, "because it's time that we start showing the legislators that we're tired of the garbage that's going up there," she said.What kind of garbage? she was asked.
"The special interests," she said, dutifully invoking Schwarzenegger's favorite epithet. She confessed that she had no idea what the petition said.
CityBeat attempted to talk to several other motorists, but they weren't feeling especially chatty-including one elderly woman, who, from her passenger-side seat, briefly engaged a protestor but then became frightened when approached by CityBeat.
"Ma'am, I'm a member of the press. Can I ask you why you're here?" the reporter said.
"No, I'm scared of this," she said, quickly grasping her window crank. "I don't want to talk about it."