Sex, lies and audiotape

Sep 12, 2006
Nature and the press corps abhor a vacuum. So into the void left by legislative recess steps the Schwarzenegger audiotape story.

"The California Highway Patrol is investigating a possible breach of the governor's computer system after The Times published an audio recording of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bantering with staff in a private meeting last spring," reports Nancy Vogel in the Times.

We liked the disgruntled insider theory much better.

"Schwarzenegger apologized Friday for comments made on the six-minute recording, which The Times posted Thursday on its website."

"Andrea Hoch, the governor's legal affairs secretary, issued a statement Monday saying that the recording had been stored on a private, password-protected section of the governor's computer network. On Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, 'an unknown person or persons' downloaded an audio file from that private section, her statement said."

"'This access was unauthorized and constitutes a breach of one or more security protocols within the governor's office,' the statement said."

"Hoch said the governor's office had identified the Internet address used for this action and had forwarded that information to the CHP."

But, the Bee knows who the "hacker" was.

The Bee's Kevin Yamamura reports "Democrat Phil Angelides' gubernatorial campaign acknowledged Monday that it downloaded the digital audio file containing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's controversial private remarks on ethnicity, but said it did nothing inappropriate and accessed the recording through the governor's 'publicly available' Web site."

"Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo confirmed that her staff used one computer to access the audio clip on those days. But she said her staff did not hack into the Governor's Office server and that the file was widely available on Schwarzenegger's Web site."

"'This is outrageous,' Calfo said. 'These are politically motivated charges, and they are completely false. What I have been told is, there was information accessed by one of our computers off of a taxpayer-funded, publicly available Web site that any member of the public would have access to.'"

"Before Calfo's acknowledgment, Hoch provided The Bee with an Internet Protocol address she said identified the intruder. The address is linked to the Angelides campaign, according to the Web site"

The Angelides campaign may want to check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's anonymous web browser.

Meanwhile, "[i]n a move that could avert embarrassing disclosures about its influential board members, California's state pension fund is invoking a recent law that allows it to keep most of its dealings with venture capital firms secret," report Evan Halper and Dan Morain for the Times.

"Officials of the California Public Employees' Retirement System are citing the law in refusing to disclose several documents related to International Technology University. ITU's principals and several start-up companies it fostered made contributions to the failed gubernatorial campaign of state Controller Steve Westly, a CalPERS board member."

"The California pension fund earlier this year committed — and later revoked — almost $24 million to ITU, to be used as seed money for new companies. At least two documents being withheld, obtained by The Times from another state, refer to campaign contributions."

"'In order to get the very best investments … public pension funds are required to retain as confidential materials that the [firms] believe are critical to their business,' said CalPERS spokeswoman Pat Macht."

"The author of the 2004 law, state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), says it was never supposed to be used in such a way."

"'I'm disappointed,' said Simitian, who explained that his measure (SB 439) was intended to protect venture capitalists doing business with the state from having to disclose trade secrets and other sensitive information to competitors."

"'It was not designed to give [pension funds] carte blanche to withhold documents that might be embarrassing,' he said."

Rachel Uranga of the Daily News takes a look at Proposition 1B's impact on Los Angeles roads. "A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 50 percent of voters were likely to support Proposition 1B, while 38 percent were opposed.

"'The bond will provide a dramatic boost to the city's ability to improve road conditions and traffic flow and to provide viable public transportation alternative,' said Matt Szabo, an aide for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who lobbied hard to secure $1 billion in bond money for public transit in Los Angeles."

"But experts say the bond would merely be a "down payment" on a stressed infrastructure."

"'Twenty years ago we had congestion in only one direction of our freeways and it only lasted for one and a half to two hours. Today it is now in both directions and it lasts for six to seven hours,' said Doug Failing, district director for Caltrans. 'This bond represents our chance to get this under control.'"

Speaker Fabian Nuñez announced his committee chairs and leadership team yesterday, giving some members an early fundraising boost, and slamming the door on incoming freshmen hopes of landing plum committee chairmanships. Among the highlights, Mark Leno will be appropriations chair, Gene Mullin will become chair of education, Pedro Nava will man the gavel at Transportation, Alberto Torrico will chair G.O., Mervyn Dymally will chair health and Hector De la Torre will chair Rules.

"Assemblyman Juan Arambula's push to overhaul the state's controversial enterprise zone program found only limited success this year. And the Fresno Democrat says his politically charged dismissal from a key committee post is partly to blame," writes the Bee's E.J. Schultz.

"The program -- one of the state's largest economic development initiatives -- gives tax breaks to companies that invest in needy areas. But critics have long complained that the program lacks oversight and that the tax breaks do little to spur economic develop."

"But lawmakers didn't act on the proposals until the waning days of the session, passing a bill that skips over some of the major recommendations."

"I think the bill has a lot less than I had initially hoped for, but it was what was possible this year," said Arambula, a former Fresno County supervisor who has taken a keen interest in economic development issues."

Finally, some fans of the late Steve Irwin are trying to settle the score with stingrays. "
At least ten stingrays have been found dead and mutilated on Australia’s eastern coast in the last week in what conservationists believe could be revenge attacks for the death of Steve Irwin, the popular naturalist and television personality.

Irwin, known by his fans as the "Crocodile Hunter", was killed last Monday when a stingray barb pierced his chest as he filmed a new TV programme off the Great Barrier Reef. His death triggered an outpouring of grief in Australia and among thousands of admirers worldwide."

"But now it is feared that fans' mourning has taken a new focus: stingray rage."