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.



  1. Moderator says:

    Detractors(and other interested parties) are kindly invited to recommend fresh items of interest to the editor of the daily briefs for possible inclusion,
    increase your chances by writing a short blurb, headline,provide a link / source. send entries to:
    so instead of going on about some article you found here, post an article of your own and give everyone else a chance to go on about it.( copy and paste from a previous thread)

    • thinkaboutit says:

      Are flat out supporters likewise kindly invited to recommend fresh items to help fortify your Web site? That would be good news, indeed!

  2. Acting Governor, Abel Maldonado has done a good job in the absence of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    My full support is behind Abel in his upcoming election as this is a person who will work for our safety as seen in the gas pipe explosion in San Bruno.

  3. thinkaboutit says:

    I had to check twice after I read this article. What was more appropriate for the Opinion page was found reported in Daily Briefs. The article seems more interested in flitting scrutiny of Mr. Maldonado than reporting the more critical concerns of what the acting governor has done in response to a tragic disaster.

    Yes, Maldonado was “chatting on first-name basis with the hosts” and “declaring to a local, state and national audience what ‘officialdom’ knew.” But let’s be clear. Coordinating the government’s response to a pipe explosion doesn’t somehow “fall” on Maldonado to carry out. That is the Lieutenant Governor’s JOB in the Governor’s absence.

    There is nothing somehow peculiar or even suspect about Maldonado carrying out his duties, unnecessary statements notwithstanding, i.e. “Newson currently leads in the polls and, prior to Thursday, fully ywo-thirds (sic) 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.”

    Yes, “there he was, on CNN at 3 a.m. local time, answering to the title ‘Governor,’ ” as the article states. (Well, why wouldn’t he be in this state of emergency?)

    It begs the question: Was anything out of line in how Maldonado conducted himself at either press conference? The person I saw “behind the microphone” carried out his responsibilities in an appropriately calm, concise and articulate manner. He told the public what had happened, exactly what steps he was taking as acting Governor, and what could be expected to occur in the immediate future. In addition, I saw nothing in either news conference to draw attention to himself or the upcoming campaign.

    I think better work of this article could have been accomplished in concentrating on the state of the victims and information on how the public could help. Rather than regurgitate Cathleen Decker’s tabloid-style journalism in what was the largest paragraph of this article, I think readers would better appreciate an original and objective thought any day. There’s talent in this virtual news room. I hope to see more evidence of that.

    “We are non-partisan and adhere to the strictest journalism ethics and standards.”

    Let THIS be so.

    • Dave says:

      Boy, your analysis here is way out in right field. Way, way, out.

      First, Cathleen Decker of the LA Times is one of the most respected political reporters writing today. She has more than 20 years experience covering national, state and LA politics. The woman is sharp.

      Second, her thesis is completely legitimate: The tragedy in San Bruno is many things, not the least of which is that it serves as a unique opportunity for Lt. Gov. Maldonado, unknown by most Californians as he runs for re-election, to take advantage of massive media coverage and introduce himself in a favorable light.

      Third, wanna bet that we see TV commercials of Abel “handling the crisis” in October? Dianne Feinstein beat John Van De Kamp back in the 1992 Democratic primary because she pounded us with the photo of her taking charge after the San Francisco city hall shootings in 1978.

      This is what politicians, Republican and Democrat, do.

      We linked to an interesting piece of political analysis by one of the top journalists around. Yes, we’re grateful how Abel is coordinating the government response, but let us not forget he also has his own agenda.

      • thinkaboutit says:

        Dear Dave,

        Mmm, no. I don’t think my analysis is “way, way out” in left field.

        First, I’m aware of Cathleen Decker’s credentials. There are a lot of “sharp,” well published people writing these days, but it doesn’t mean one ought to agree with them. I’m not attacking her qualifications, per se; I simply disagree with her copy and CCN’s need to copy-and-paste to, in effect, channel her way of thinking.

        Second, while you may see her opinion as legit, I suppose one might conjecture that Mr. Maldonado could “take advantage of mass media coverage and introduce himself in a favorable light.” Hmm. Okay, that would be news if it didn’t happen every day, but it does. Anyone who watched President Obama the other day take the better part of two hours to answer ten questions could surmise the same thing. Unfortunately, he contradicted himself in the process. So what’s new under the sun here?

        Thankfully, the Lieutenant Governor did nothing to sensationalize the emergency situation to elicit unfounded nitpicking. If anything, it looks like Maldonado is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. I found no real story here other than that he did an effective job. If anything, I found CCN’s scrutiny offsides at best.

        Third, do I wanna bet we see TV commercials of Abel “handling the crisis” in October? Yup! If I were running for Governor, I’d be putting up that video in the first 10 seconds, so would most all of us. What do you expect him to do, sample the Colbert footage? Like most politicians this year, on the ballot or already in office, Maldonado could use some sprucing up, but nowhere near the reinvention of a Gore, Edwards, and, yes, Brown. I think the only reason why Meg Whitman isn’t running million-dollar footage of her nuzzling a basket of puppies to show her “soft side” is because no reasonable soul in all of creation would ever believe her.

        I’m fully aware of what politicians, Republican, Democrat, and otherwise do; they waste millions doing it. Again, why is this suddenly news? What politician doesn’t have their own agenda? Goodness gracious, if they actually remembered to further their party’s platform instead of more typically putting their own interests first, we might get something done around here.

        If Maldonado was at the podium working the Jersey Shore fist pump, wink-and-the-gun combo, then I would venture to say I witnessed some undeniable self-indulgence there. But Dave, as much as some seemed to hope…he wasn’t. The man was simply doing his job!

        As for sourcing Ms. Decker, I say why muddy up the waters with someone else’s opinion? If I want to read her stuff, I’ll subscribe to the L.A. Times. Same goes with other “linked” media used in this news site, including Mercury News, SacBee, Consumer Reports, etc., etc.

        CCN has talent to spare. Certainly it can perform more of its own reporting – right?

        • thinkaboutit says:

          I just realized Dave said “right field,” not “left field” as I had referenced. Funny!

        • Dave says:

          Wow — look at this. All of these other media types are saying the same thing as Cathy Decker — and they’re using their real names to their Opinions. Not Anonymice. Check it out:

          As pointed out below by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters and others, Schwarzenegger’s lieutenant, Abel Maldonado, seems to be enjoying his time as acting governor of California these days. It’s unfortunate that Maldonado is trying to capitalize on a human tragedy and signing bills for political gain.

          “Instead of capitalizing on tragedy for his own political gain, Maldonado might consider spending his time in Sacramento encouraging his Republican colleagues who helped create the budget mess to work toward constructive solutions that don’t involve cutting education and other desperately needed services,” said John Burton, Chairman of the California Democratic Party.

          Dan Walters: “When disaster strikes, we expect officeholders to respond. But we must also ask ourselves whether they are cynically exploiting disaster with sympathy and promises of aid… We’ll see if San Bruno shows up in campaign ads.” (Dan Walters, “Tragedy is sweet nectar for politicians,” Sacramento Bee, 9/13/10)

          SF Chron’s The Opinion Shop: “A Politician’s Motto — Never Waste a Crisis.” “Acting Gov. Abel Maldonado rushed to San Bruno after the gas pipeline explosion… Candidates for lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado … were quick to use the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion to gain a moment in the political limelight.” (Lois Kazakoff, “A Politician’s Motto – Never Waste a Crisis,” San Francisco Chronicle, 9/13/10)

          Shane Goldmacher: “Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado sure seems to enjoy being acting governor of California …” “On Twitter and in a barrage a press releases and breathless updates, he and his staff can hardly contain themselves…Maldonado has been aggressively Tweeting himself, covering everything from the gas pipe explosion to his of signing of legislation to infuse federal funds into California’s schools.” (Shane Goldmacher, “Your (acting) governor in action,” LA Time’s PolitiCal Blog, 9/10/10)

    • racket says:

      Okay. I am with you on this, Thinkaboutit.

      I think my earlier comments were made out of frustration at how unseemly politicking has become. Probably it’s always been this way, and I am just paying closer attention.

  4. racket says:

    It’s like watching sausage get made.

    While I often vote republican, using this tradegy to showcase Abel’s wonderfulness is really low.

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