Who needs money from the governor when we have the love and support of his wife?
California First Lady Maria Shriver paid a visit to San Diego County last week in homage to Family Day, a nationwide observance described as “a day to eat dinner with your children” (yes, we apparently need a special day for that). While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stayed home Sept. 25 to deal with the fallout from the state budget he's just signed, Shriver and an entourage of reporters and photographers toured various family-oriented programs in the county to show her—and, presumably her husband's—support for them.
She visited Camp Hope, a Ramona-based outfit that assists children ages 7 to 16 victimized by domestic violence.
She swung by Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, where several hundred Marine parents had gathered. She then checked out St. Paul's Community Care Center, where seniors interact with children for the benefit of both through an intergenerational daycare program.
Afterward, Shriver flew to San Francisco's Tenderloin District, where she ate dinner with more than 300 families at Tenderloin Community School. That she did so without her own family present didn't escape the notice of some Bay-area bloggers, who accused her of missing the whole point of the “day to eat dinner with your children” thing. The news media down south was much more accommodating, however, with the television stations and the San Diego Union-Tribune running stories of the visit sans any comment on the irony. One reader of the U-T's story, headlined “Shriver stumps for families,” praised the visit for its spirit of nonpartisan goodness.
“No partisanship, just concern for these children and promoting a nongovernmental agency to help instead of proposing big brother getting in the way,” posted the reader under the user name “ImpeachObama.”
Indeed, showing concern in a nongovernmental kind of way may have been the only way the first lady could have supported some of the programs. Just two days prior to her visit, her husband used his line-item veto powers to slash more than $280 million in funding for programs to low-income and elderly citizens from the state's $145 billion budget. Among the cuts were $191 million for a tax grant program for low-income senior renters and homeowners; $88 million for CalWORKS, the state welfare program; and $11.4 million for anti-elder-abuse efforts.
The governor also gutted—for the second year in a row—funding for a program he helped create that would negotiate lower prescription drug prices for residents. In total, the budget represented more than $153 million in cuts to the state Health and Human Services Agency (including the $88 million for CalWORKS).
All told, last week was good for photo ops for California's first family. Newspapers ran pictures of Schwarzenegger beaming from ear to ear after having finally signed a balanced budget, while Shriver was shown grinning even wider as she stood with the people who helped balance it.