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Schwarzenegger does end run around state Senate

August 6, 2010 |  1:11 pm

With the state Senate blocking key appointments by the lame-duck Schwarzenegger administration, the governor on Friday bypassed the normal confirmation process to keep his consumer affairs chief on the job.

"It is unfortunate that the Senate leadership is playing political games with the safety of California consumers and refused to even give this immensely qualified candidate a hearing," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "While the Senate has failed Californians, I will not."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg had refused to schedule a confirmation vote for Brian J. Stiger to stay on as director of the Department of Consumer Affairs. The law specifies such a vote needs to take place  within one year of nomination.

In response, Schwarzenegger said Friday he is withdrawing Stiger's nomination and immediately reappointing him senior chief deputy director of the department and designated acting director. The new appointment, which continues to pay an annual salary of $142,965, does not require Senate confirmation.

Steinberg has questioned business-friendly Schwarzenegger's commitment to consumer protections and notes that the Republican governor will be out of office at the end of this year.

"There is going to be a new governor in six months,'' said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Steinberg. Not confirming Stiger, he said, means "it will be a little bit easier for the next governor to appoint someone who will hopefully pay a little more attention to consumer issues than this governor.''

Stiger is not the first, nor will he likely be the last, Schwarzenegger appointee blocked by Steinberg as the governor's term winds down. Dozens of other appointments are awaiting confirmation, some to positions that would take them years into the first term of the next governor. Earlier in the week, Fish and Game Commissioner Don Benninghoven was forced to step down after the Senate declined to confirm his appointment by the governor to a multi-year term.

-- Patrick McGreevy

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