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Schwarzenegger begs high court to intervene in building sales or they'll 'be lost forever'

December 20, 2010 | 11:09 pm

In unusually blunt terms, the Schwarzenegger administration has issued a desperate plea to the California Supreme Court to intervene to allow the controversial sale of two dozen state office buildings before he leaves office in less than two weeks.

The buildings’ sale, which would raise $1.2 billion for this year’s budget, is stalled in the 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose. The court awaits legal arguments this week from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and opponents of the sale.

But the current timeline for the case would probably drag out until after Gov.-elect Jerry Brown takes office in January. Brown has not taken a public position on the sale, though he declined to defend it as attorney general.

Schwarzenegger’s attorneys, in a legal brief filed Monday, asked the high court to step in “because time is of the essence and the transaction must close by year end or probably be lost forever.”

Critics have called the deal a waste of taxpayer money because the state must lease back the buildings it sells for at least two decades. Two former state building authority members, whom the governor removed from their posts, have sued, arguing, among other things, that the sale is an illegal waste of public funds.

The state Legislature approved the sale in 2009, and Schwarzenegger has vigorously pursued it since.

“For those who say that California is ungovernable, this litigation should serve as Exhibit A,” Schwarzenegger’s lawyers wrote. "This court must act now to prevent this abuse of the legal process by those who put their own petty grievances above the will of the people and the needs of this state.”

If the deal were to fall apart, California's estimated budget deficit over 18 months would grow from $28.1 billion to $29.3 billion.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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