Maldonado takes charge in San Bruno
September 12, 2010
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is off to Asia on a trade mission, so the responsibility for coordinating the government’s response to Thursday’s gas pipe explosion in San Bruno has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado. [LA Times]
Under California law, the former Central Coast legislator, appointed to the state’s second-highest office just last spring, is allowed to serve as Acting Governor while Schwarzenegger is away.
As the Los Angeles Times pointed out: “So it fell to Maldonado to officially declare a state of emergency Thursday night. And it fell to Maldonado to explain things Friday at press conferences and in interviews. There he was on CNN, at 3 a.m. local time, answering to the title “Governor” and chatting on a first-name basis with the hosts. And hours later, he was front and center at the command post, declaring to a local, state and national audience what officialdom knew as the skies lightened and the awful search for more victims was renewed.”
Maldonado is currently running for re-election in November against Gavin Newsom, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco. Newson currently leads in the polls and, prior to Thursday, fully two thirds of Californians said they didn’t know anything about Maldonado.
Maldonado had already signaled his intent to make the most of his acting governorship. Plans were in the works for him, in Schwarzenegger’s stead, to sign popular bills. Possibilities included measures meant to prevent future circumstances like those in Bell, the southeastern Los Angeles County city that this year has become shorthand for government flabbiness and public employee greed.
Meanwhile, he’s behind the microphone, assuring the people of San Bruno, and indirectly the people of California, that government aid is on the way and that Abel Maldonado, as least for the moment, is in charge.