LOS ANGELES – Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (search), in an unexpected broadside, accused Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) on Thursday of misusing the state's ballot initiative process to force his political agenda on the Legislature.
Schwarzenegger is pushing four ballot measures that deal with teacher tenure, union dues, a state spending cap and redistricting.
"I'm opposed to all of his initiatives," said Villaraigosa, a former state Assembly speaker, who had appeared eager to work with Schwarzenegger.
"In this instance it's very clear that the initiative process is being misused," Villaraigosa said. "These are matters that could and should be addressed by the Legislature."
Todd Harris, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger's campaign, said the governor decided to take the issues before voters in a Nov. 8 special election because the Legislature was unwilling to work with him.
"The governor could not agree with the mayor more that the Legislature should have worked with the governor to pass these reforms," Harris said. "Instead, the Legislature focused on its own priorities, things like gay marriage and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants."
Villaraigosa's comments, while not out of keeping with his political loyalties, carry particular resonance given his position as California's (search) most prominent Hispanic officeholder and mayor of the state's largest city.
As he pushes his ballot agenda, the Schwarzenegger has been trying to rebuild his standing with Hispanic voters who helped put him in office in 2003 but whose support has eroded in recent months.