Commentary: Is Schwarzenegger's legacy slipping away?

It's fairly evident that Arnold Schwarzenegger is now in legacy mode, trying to close out his roller-coaster governorship on an upswing.

It's equally evident that circumstances — especially a serious recession and an equally serious budget crisis — will make leaving a positive legacy difficult.

One casualty is Schwarzenegger's hopes of winning voter approval in November of an $11.1 billion water bond issue. Fearing voter rejection, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have delayed a vote for two years.

Another of Schwarzenegger's legacy accomplishments, moving legislative redistricting to an independent commission, is also in jeopardy. Proposition 27, sponsored by Democratic politicians and their allies, seeks to return redistricting to an incumbent-friendly Legislature.

Finally, what Schwarzenegger hopes will be his most noteworthy achievement, a groundbreaking effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could be undermined by another ballot measure, Proposition 23, financed by oil companies. It would delay implementation of the 2006 anti-greenhouse gas measure, Assembly Bill 32, until the state's unemployment rate had fallen to less than half its current mark.

Defeating Proposition 23 is clearly Schwarzenegger's highest priority during the remaining months of his governorship.

"It's very important," he beseeched Bay Area business leaders recently. "Do not let those oil companies from Texas get away with that, to come in and to form kind of partnerships with coal mines and with coal companies and with other big polluters, with other oil companies and to go and to tell us what kind of environmental regulations and laws we should have. I mean, that's outrageous."

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