SACRAMENTO, California – Here are two guys who did not see it coming when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated them: his own brother-in-law, Bobby Shriver, and actor-director Clint Eastwood.
The governor dropped Shriver and Eastwood from a state parks commission where both had served since before he took office. The two oppose a Schwarzenegger-backed plan to build a toll road through a state park, but Shriver said Thursday that the governor's decision was a surprise to both of them.
"I had hoped to continue to do this work and continue to protect the park system from developers," Shriver said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It shows you how strong these developers were that were able to arm-wrestle the governor into firing us."
Shriver, a Santa Monica city councilman who is the brother of the governor's wife, Maria Shriver, and a nephew of President Kennedy, said he and Eastwood, a former mayor of Carmel, had asked the governor for third terms on the State Park and Recreation Commission. He said they were informed Monday evening by a Schwarzenegger aide that they would be replaced.
Eastwood, who won best-director Oscars for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby" and 1992's
"Unforgiven," did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday from The Associated Press.
A spokesman for the Republican governor praised both men but said their terms had expired. He said their positions on the toll road did not factor into the governor's decision.
"It's not uncommon for people to serve their terms, and when they expire the governor appoints someone new," spokesman Aaron McLear said. "The governor believes both Mr. Shriver and Mr. Eastwood did an outstanding job and appreciated their service."
It was not immediately clear when Schwarzenegger would name replacements.
Shriver, the commission chairman, and Eastwood, the vice chairman, led the panel in its unanimous opposition in 2005 to a six-lane toll road that would cut through San Onofre State Beach, one of Southern California's most cherished surfing beaches.
Shriver and Eastwood supported a 2006 lawsuit to block the toll road and urged the California Coastal Commission to reject the project, which it did last month. That decision is being appealed by local transportation agencies.
"We felt we were doing good work," Shriver said. "Using parks for roads is not the intent of a park."
Schwarzenegger, who has visited the area, said in a Jan. 15 letter to the coastal commission that the toll road was "essential to protect our environment" by helping to relieve freeway gridlock in Orange and San Diego counties.
Schwarzenegger's decision was upsetting to park advocates who already are lobbying against the governor's budget proposal to close 48 state parks and slash in half the number of lifeguards at its beaches in San Diego, Orange and Santa Cruz counties.
Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation, said Shriver and Eastwood were their champions on the park board.
"We're seeing the governor taking actions that undermine the California system," Goldstein said. "This is a park system that is under assault."
The nine-member commission is charged with approving plans for California's parks and recommending ways to protect and develop the system. Commissioners do not earn a salary.
Eastwood and Shriver were appointed to the commission in 2001 by former Gov. Gray Davis. Schwarzenegger reappointed them in 2004.