(Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

In 2005, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised many fellow Republicans when he appointed Susan Kennedy — a former aide to Governor Gray Davis and one-time executive director of the California Democratic Party — as his chief of staff. The Los Angeles Times has called Kennedy “the most enduring force in state government of the last decade.” She joins us in-studio, as part of our “First Person” series of interviews with the leaders, innovators and others who make the Bay Area unique.

Interview Highlights

Guests:
Susan Kennedy, former chief of staff for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former deputy chief of staff for Governor Gray Davis, board member of the California Health Benefit Exchange and a private consultant focusing on clean tech

  • erictremont

    I have followed Ms. Kennedy’s career over the past 15 years or so but I really don’t know what she stands for. On the one hand, I think bipartisanship is commendable but there is a difference between being bipartisan and simply working for whomever is in power and trying to advance their agenda no matter how incoherent or unrealistic it is. Let’s face it, both Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger were disasters as governors, and as a senior advisor to both men, Ms. Kennedy must bear some of the blame for their strategic and tactical failures.

    • thucy

      Schwarz went down in flames because he dared to take on two of CA’s most powerful unions, neither of which were exactly without major corruption issues. These unions represented 1) the “sainted” nurses of California and 2) the “purer-than-Caesar’s-wife” police of California.
      He challenged their stranglehold over the taxpayer, and thus he had to be taken down.

      • erictremont

        Let me clarify—I think Arnold was right to take on the public employee unions but he did it in a rather clumsy way, creating the perception that he was attacking all rank and file public servants, not just union bosses. This perception was fatal to his efforts to pass union reform initiatives in 2006.

        • SRSwain

          What didn’t Arnold do “in a rather clumsy way”? That’s his trademark: “Ahm the guvanatah!” Thank God only native-born Americans can become president.

  • Chris OConnell

    Haha, that was a good one. Her critique of Obama is that he did health care when he should have reached out to Republicans more. Of course, his major problem leading him down the dead end was reaching out to Republicans generally. His health care plan, for instance, was a complete Republican blueprint. He brought in the insurers and the pharmaceutical industry while shutting down single payer or a public option but Republicans were determined to say NO to anything Obama did. PERIOD.

    She is not quite profound or insightful when she says “I don’t know what he did wrong but I would have done it differently.”

  • Ken

    California Constitution Article 1 Section 24 specifically enumerates privacy as a California citizen’s right. At 43min mark, Susan Kennedy says it is a “pointless crusade to try to prevent the gathering of the information”. “The kind of information being gather is to be expected, and it’s the use we should focus on.” Essentially she says citizens should expect the NSA to illegally violate California Constitutional rights, and we should _hope_ that government won’t use illegally gathered information against us. This is Bipartisan Big Brother on display.

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