Monday, November 17, 2003

Schwarzenegger Set to Take Office Mon Nov 17, 3:07 AM ET By TOM CHORNEAU, Associated Press Writer SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a departure from recent inaugurations, there will be no big parties and no gala balls after Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites) takes the oath of office as California's 38th governor. Bitterness over the divisive recall vote and the state's fiscal troubles have put a damper on livelier festivities � although plenty of celebrities promised to be on hand. The night before the Austrian-born actor was to take the oath, stars such as Rob Lowe, Rob Reiner and Tom Arnold were seen around town, and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz was among a group of transition advisers who met with the governor-elect. Even Schwarzenegger's relatives added a bit of glamour. Meeting with the transition team Sunday, Schwarzenegger took time out to thank his mother-in-law, Eunice Shriver, the sister of the late President Kennedy. Eunice Shriver's daughter, Maria Shriver, is married to Schwarzenegger. "I want to thank my mother-in-law who has come out so many times since I announced my candidacy," he said. "Campaigning with me, driving with the bus up and down, being out there, talking and speaking." Eunice Shriver had said that even President Kennedy would have voted for the Republican, Schwarzenegger said, but then he paused and added with a laugh, "I'm just making that up." Schwarzenegger, elected last month at the same time Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (news - web sites) was recalled, was scheduled to be sworn in Monday during an hourlong ceremony on the steps of the state Capitol. About 7,500 guests were invited to attend. Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, was expected to hold the Bible while California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George administered the oath. Aides said that Schwarzenegger planned a brief speech. Later in the day he was to attend three events: a luncheon inside the Capitol rotunda for state and federal officials, a private family gathering across the street and an invitation-only reception sponsored by the state Chamber of Commerce (news - web sites). But Schwarzenegger also planned to get to work quickly. He was scheduled to return to the Capitol by mid-afternoon to start the business of running California's government, a job that became more daunting over the weekend when Schwarzenegger's chief financial deputy pegged the state budget deficit at $25 billion � far more than other estimates. First on Schwarzenegger's to-do list may be his promise to issue a first-day-in-office executive order repealing the increase in the car tax. Schwarzenegger also has said he will call the Legislature back into session, probably Tuesday, to deal with a range of issues including midyear budget cuts, reform of the state's worker compensation system and a repeal of a new law that lets undocumented workers get driver's licenses. Mindful of the bitterness that still surrounds the first transfer of power after the recall, not to mention the state's trouble with red ink, the Schwarzenegger team planned no black-tie balls, a departure from some past California inaugurations. In 1995, Natalie Cole sang at then-Gov. Pete Wilson's inaugural gala. The 1999 inaugural for Davis included a $3.7 million event featuring Lionel Richie, Kenny G and a reading by "Happy Days" actor Henry Winkler. Davis toned down his second inaugural, held earlier this year amid the state's fiscal crisis, to a casual party at an auditorium with the swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy entertaining. This time, the inauguration promises to be well documented. Requests for press credentials came from TV crews and print journalists around the globe � including Japan, Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and, of course, Schwarzenegger's native Austria. Nearly 650 journalists were set to cover the swearing-in � as many as might cover a presidential inauguration. "Sacramento has never seen anything like this before � it is astonishing," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political scientist at the University of Southern California. "There has never been this kind of intense media attention on the governor at anytime in the state." * * * * * * * * * * * we shall see now. won't we....

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