Oct 11, 2009

Schwarzenegger vetoes Bar bill*

Calling the State Bar of California "overly political, unresponsive to its membership, and inefficient," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign a bill that would have allowed the Bar to collect membership dues for next year.

In his veto of SB 641, Schwarzenegger cited a critical State Auditor's report that found some salary levels incommensurate with the workload and blamed a former employee's embezzlement of $676,000 on a lack of oversight. The governor wrote:
As the organization charged with regulating the professional conduct of its members, the conduct of the State Bar itself must be above reproach. Regrettably, it is not.
Schwarzenegger also referenced an embarrassing episode from summer when a columnist learned that the Bar's judicial review committee had rated former Republican state Sen. Charles Poochigian "not qualified" for an appointment to the Fifth District Court of Appeals. Schwarzenegger wrote:
Unfortunately, recent events have required the State Bar to launch an official inquiry into the confidentiality of such proceedings. Moreover, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has recently questioned the reliability of the Commission’s recommendations by noting its failure to follow statutory guidelines when considering judicial nominees. By failing to follow the law, the JNE Commission has damaged its reputation for impartiality and, in turn, the State Bar’s.
*Update: Perhaps it goes without saying given his actions today, but Schwarzenegger has decided enough progress was made on negotiations for a state water plan that he will forgo a mass veto of the Legislature's over 700 end-of-session bills and will instead "weigh all the bills on their merits."

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