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Emeryville Nurses’ Protest Targets Major Fundraiser For Schwarzenegger By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday June 17, 2005

As a phalanx of registered nurses paraded outside the Watergate Office Tower in Emeryville Tuesday, inside a delegation of officials from the California Nurses Association confronted one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s major fundraisers. 

The CNA, the union which represents registered nurses throughout the state, has emerged as one of Schwarzenegger’s most formidable foes, and even Kristin Hueter, the GOP fundraiser who was targeted in Tuesday’s action, told CNA reps “You are doing God’s work. It isn’t anything personal.” 

Hueter has been one of the governor’s most effective fundraisers, and a CNA protest outside a Citizens to Save California (CSC) fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in March upstaged his appearance inside. They did it again last month at another Hueter/CSC event at the Ritz-Carlton.  

The CNA has taken a lead role in challenging Schwarzenegger’s initiative that would give him the power to slash the budget passed by state legislators at any time during the year. 

“It’s the auctioning off of public life in California,” CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro told the Emeryville protestors. “We don’t believe human lives should be privatized.” 

“The pharmaceutical industry is spending $100 million on the special election,” declared Martha Cool, a CNA member from Oakland. “The state’s cost will be $800 million—money that would be better spent on patient care.” 

“Is this a corporate state or a private state?” asked DeMoro. “The governor wants to deny the right to public health care and he wants to deny the public right to education. He’s an affable spokesman for the extreme right, and his agenda is privatization.” 

The governor first incurred the nurses’ wrath when he tried to block implementation of a law that reduces the ration of patients per nurse from six to five. 

Schwarzenegger’s declaration that nurses were simply another special interest, coupled with his announcement that he intended to “kick their butts,” generated outrage and late-night talk show ridicule. 

A CNA delegation composed of nurses Abbie Stewart of Oakland, Joan Rudolfo of Summit Medical Center and Robert Marth then entered the Watergate Tower, followed later by DeMoro and CNA Communications Director Charles Idleson to confront Hueter. 

The epistle, signed by CNA President Deborah Burger, condemned “the wasteful and unneeded election you are helping the governor bankroll ... just one of the many examples of how the non-stop fundraising by this governor, with your assistance, is corrupting the political process in our state, endangering the public, and undermining our democracy.” 

The irony of Schwarzenegger’s transcontinental fundraising effort has not escaped the attention of political cartoonists and columnists, who recall that the Austrian immigrant was elected in a recall election he waged in large part based on condemnations of the smaller fundraising efforts of then-incumbent Gray Davis. 

Also on tap for the governor’s fall initiative campaign is a measure that would strip the legislature of its redistricting powers and hand them over to a panel of retired judges—a group which includes a large number of conservative former prosecutors.l