The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on October 24, 2004 · Page 108
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 108

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Page 108
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TM_I_28_28_LA_1_10-24-04_su_1_CMYK 2004:10:12:19:28:39_aherold 28LOS ANGELES TIMES MAGAZINE,October24,2004 complain about crumbling infrastructure and uneven financing from the state. Others wonder if commercial properties should be taxed at a higher rate. Tackling this mess would be difficult and politically risky. Part of the problem in defining Schwarzenegger is that he operates on two contradictory levels—the revolutionary and the appeaser. He perpetually talks about ending partisan bickering, about being partners with his friends in the California Legislature. In another breath, he will lash out at lawmakers for not bending to his will. In his famous “girlie man” speech he said: “Their approval rating is in the 30s, my approval rating is in the 70s, because the people know why I am there. They are the obstructionists up there right now. They are stopping the budget. I am representing you, and people know they are representing special interests rather than the public interest.” This dual personality may appeal to California voters. The appeaser and compromiser shows the governor can get the job done and work with Democrats. He’s bipartisan. Being a competent chief executive who doesn’t blow up the system also eases fears that Schwarzenegger, who came to office with an absurdist Terminator personality and zero experience in government, is not going to turn into another unpredictable Jesse Ventura. The revolutionary appeals to voters who also see California government as inherently corrupt and ineffectual. Schwarzenegger is still working it out. Paul Wachter, the governor’s personal financial advisor and friend, acknowledges that Schwarz- enegger is a brand undergoing a makeover: “And you have to separate out his brand prior to last year and now. We’re all still learning what the new brand is and what to do with it and what not to do with it.” When it comes to politics, he is a work in progress. The Schwarzenegger website posted a poll recently: “In a hundred years, how do you think Arnold will be remembered? As an action star? As a bodybuilder? As a businessman? As a politician? As a hero?” The answers after 61,000 online votes were almost evenly divided among action star, bodybuilder and hero at about 31% each. Businessman received 2%. And his newest adventure, politician, got 6%. Times staff writer Joe Mathews contributed to this story. cal theater. It happened to be her 100th day in office, and Harris sat in a front-row pew. Uniformed police officers and other mourners filled the sanctuary to overflowing. When Sen. Dianne Feinstein was introduced, it seemed likely that she would continue with her crusade against assault weapons. Instead, Feinstein called for the death penalty in this case, winning a standing ovation from police and blindsiding Harris. Later Feinstein said that if she had known that Harris opposed capital punishment, she probably wouldn’t have endorsed her. Harris’ decision in the Espinoza case is “something people are still talking about,” says Barbara Mesku- nas, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. “When you see the rising murder rate in this city, I’m not sure that sends the best message. You can respect her for sticking to her principles, but at some point you have to have respect for the law. You have exceptions for people who murder police officers. You have to go the distance.” Harris declines to discuss the funeral and the controversy, as if it’s a wound that hasn’t healed. California law presents a dilemma for this progressive districtattorney who, though she is too politic to phrase it this way, clearly considers the death penalty dumb on crime. “I have wrestled with it. Absolutely I have wrestled with it,” Harris says. “I have thought, what if somebody killed my mother? What if somebody killed my sister? My niece? I’d want to kill them. I’d want them dead. It’s a natural human emotion. As someone grieving, I’d want vengeance.” But Harris points to studies showing that capital punishment is not a deterrent, that it is disproportionately applied across race and class, and that the court- mandated appeals process diverts millions of tax dollars from programs that would deter crime. Yet Harris insists that her stated views and campaign vows do not compromise her legal duty to consider the applicability of capital punishment. “I will review every case. I will review every case,” she says. Repetition is Harris’ way of emphasizing a point. “I have a committee. It is not something I do alone.” Critics suggest that her mind is closed and these committees amount to a charade. When reviewing “the worst of the worst of the crimes,” Harris says, “it would be inaccurate to think the decision is made because of some knee-jerk reaction to the issue. It’s much more complicated.” KAMALADAVIHARRISHASAL - ways lived in a complicated world, navigating a path where perceptions and reality often conflict. Her mother remembers the patronizing tone of a well- meaning Head Start official in Berkeley who excitedly informed her that Kamala had been tested as highly intelligent: “You don’t understand—Kamala could go to college!” What Shyamala G. Harris understood was that this man assumed her daughter must be an impoverished girl from the rough side of town, not a privileged child of foreign graduate students whose academic pursuits led them to UC Berkeley. Harris’ mother, the daughter of a high-ranking Indian government official, would earn a doctorate in biological sciences and become a well-published breast cancer researcher. She is now based at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories and lives in a spacious condominium in a historic building overlooking Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Harris’ father, Donald, earned his doctorate in economics, joined the faculty of Stanford University and advised the Jamaican government on economic issues. Shyamala insisted on giving her daughters names derived from Indian mythology, in part to help preserve their cultural identity. “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women,” she says. A favorite family story begins with Harris’ parents pushing her in a stroller as they marched for civil rights, joining in the protest chants. After one march Shyamala innocuously asked, “What do you want, Kamala?” The toddler replied: “FEE-DOM!” Harris was in elementary school when her parents divorced. She and her younger sister Maya saw their father on weekends, holidays and during thesummer while Shyamala raised the children amid what Harris calls “the black intelligentsia,” with intense dinner-table discussions about the civil rights movement. Maya Harris is now director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California. “When we were growing up,” she explains, “the notion of justice and public service and acommitment to civil rights were not abstractions. They were completely a part of our lives, of who we were and who we are.” An academic nomad, Shyamala gave her daughters a worldly education, traveling frequently to visit family in India, the Caribbean and Europe. Harrisat- tended high school in Montreal, while her mother taught at McGill University there and did research at the Jewish General Hospital. Shyamala had a strict rule for her girls: No TV unless you were also knitting or doing needlepoint. “This whole thing of multi-tasking was ingrained early on,” Harris says, laughing. Shyamala also steeped her daughters in family values that exalted education and public service. The girls looked to their Indian grandmother, Rajam, as a role model, impressed by her work for women’s rights. Rajam, now 81, keeps in touch with her daughter and granddaughters via e-mail. As Shyamala puts it: “Kamala comes from a long line of kick-ass women.” San Franciscans first became acquainted with the name Kamala Harris in Kamala Harris Continued from Page 19 Solution To This Week’s Puzzle: “Card Game” PULPJMANSTREW ENOSARENAAHEADOF JOFDIAMONDSJSONVILLE PROGBIBSTARTEDTFAL OILERSIDORYESMIA TADETHNOJTARAPPALL JFROSTSENPLAINS ALLUNOSURPHONEJ JBOOTSNIPPYOLEGS DEGREEMATEGOSSFO ANODEJINTHEBOXJFORD WDSAPSOEWEFILLED PAGANACORKLEAVES JSPRATWOKABOPED GLASERSASUNIONJ GOATEESKITAGORAPOP LOLCHITSEASPEECH AGARTRAPSETROILATI MONTEREYJDAYOFTHEJAL ONELESSEVEOFOVEN EXISTNEWJPETE

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