California Dreamin’

Posted October 22, 2003 at 5:46pm

In the aftermath of the California recall election, Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) has been getting most of the ink as the chairman of Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) transition team — and as co-chairman of the movie star’s successful campaign. There has been much speculation since the election about what kind of role Dreier will play in the administration — and in the now not-so-moribund Golden State Republican Party.

But Dreier isn’t the only Member who could join the Governator’s team. Political Pulse, a Sacramento-based newsletter on California politics and government, has reported that Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) could be in line to become Schwarzenegger’s secretary of agriculture.

Yier Shi, a spokesman for the Sacramento-area Congressman, said Wednesday that he has heard the rumor but isn’t sure whether it will happen.

“I think he’s flattered to be considered,” Shi said of his boss. “But he hasn’t been offered anything. He hasn’t filled out an application. As far as I know, he hasn’t said what he’d do if he were offered anything.”

Ose is in California now, so there could be an opportunity to meet with Schwarzenegger’s people. The governor-elect himself is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

If Ose is appointed, there are sure to be political implications. Although he has already announced his retirement next year, a departure before the end of the 108th Congress would necessitate a special election to fill the remainder of his term. Already, two prominent conservatives are running hard for his seat — former state Attorney General Dan Lungren (R) and state Sen. Rico Oller (R).

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger’s plans for his administration could have an impact on another California political race in 2004.

That’s because former Secretary of State Bill Jones, who is contemplating entering the GOP Senate primary, is reportedly in line for a top job with Schwarzenegger — anything from chief of staff to finance director to a number of different Cabinet posts.

Jones has promised an answer on his Senate plans soon.

Job Bank. It was a classic piece of muckraking.

The Village Voice reported recently that 29 of the 72 people whom New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D) has hired since he took office at the beginning of 2002 had ties to elected officials, political candidates or Democratic Party organizations.

Thompson, the son of a retired judge, is a product of the Brooklyn Democratic clubhouse and is close to the recently indicted party boss, state Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr. (D).

Naturally, with such an extensive list of politically connected people on Thompson’s payroll, a few Members of Congress would inevitably be involved. Most — but not all — are from Brooklyn.

The Voice reported that Thompson’s hires included Paul Bader, husband of Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D), who is being paid $90,000 a year. Bader, a former union official who runs a printing business that is favored by Brooklyn pols, lost a 2001 City Council primary to Bill DeBlasio, who was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign manager in 2000 and chief of staff to then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo during President Bill Clinton’s second term.

But Thompson does not appear to have taken sides in the aftermath of the City Council race: He has also hired DeBlasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, who is earning $75,000 a year.

Also on the Thompson payroll: Ed Castell ($154,000), a former Velázquez aide, and Arelis Echevarria ($80,000), a former aide to Rep. Edolphus Towns (D). According to the Voice article, Castell is “widely known” for his “governmental competence,” while the hiring of Echevarria and Bader, among others, “appears crassly political.”

Meanwhile, Thompson has also hired Joyce Miller, wife of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D), as a $123,000-a-year accountant. While Nadler and Miller live on the West Side of Manhattan, and the Congressman is more of a reformer than an organization man, his district does include sections of Brooklyn — including Coney Island.

A spokeswoman for Thompson said the comptroller hires staffers “on the basis of experience and qualifications.”