As Calbuzz foresaw several days ago, Gov. Arnold turned up in Santa Barbara Thursday, canceling a staged “Wildfire Awareness Week” event in Riverside in favor of preening for the cameras on the scene of an actual, out-of-control, wind-whipped wildfire that has local residents on the run.
The switch in venues wasn’t the only big change for the governor: He also altered his tune about the impact on public safety if his Proposition 1A is defeated at the May 19 special election.
Earlier in the week, absent the messy political inconvenience of speaking in front of a real natural disaster, Schwarzenegger threatened voters that he would lay off nearly 2,000 state firefighters if his pet initiative is defeated. On Thursday, hours after declaring a state of emergency for the uncontained Jesusista fire, the Terminator assured Santa Barbarians they needn’t fear an inadequate state emergency response, however:
“First of all, let me just make it clear, because there’s always the question that comes up, what happens to the fire departments and to the budget if those initiatives don’t pass,” Schwarzenegger told reporters. “The first thing you should know is, I will always fight and get every dollar I can for public safety, that is the important thing you should know.”
“No. 2, it is very clear that when the initiatives fail there will be $6 billion less that will be available, so therefore there will have to be additional cuts made, if it is in law enforcement, fire, education,” he added. “. . . But I will fight for every dollar, and will always make sure we have enough manpower and enough engines and helicopters ready to fight those fires.”
(Note the interesting slip there: “when” the initiatives fail, not “if.”)
Inside baseball: Our Legal Affairs Department was forced to evacuate Wednesday evening, when the dread sundowner winds blew 60 mph to the south, and we got the reverse 911 call to split; tonight, the wind’s blowing the other way, and we’re hunkered down at Calbuzz headquarters with pizza and fresh double A batteries in the flashlight.
Once again, for the best real time coverage of the Santa Barbara fire, go to our friends at Noozhawk or the Santa Barbara Independent.