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Calif. gov Gray Davis wants his grinning mug on all state websites



[Submitted to Politech by a Republican Senate aide. --Declan]

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Putting a new face on Davis' Web links
Gubernatorial foe calls mug mandate

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Sacramento -- A day after last week's primary election, Gov. Gray Davis'
administration issued a reminder to state agencies that his image is supposed
to appear on every state of California Web site. Under a policy implemented a
year ago, the governor's face is used to link all state Web sites to the
governor's page and e-mail address. While the governor's office says the move
is one in a series of steps to make a more consumer-friendly Web site,
critics say the governor is using the site for campaign purposes. "They could
have done this three years ago," said Jamie Fisfis, spokesman for GOP
gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon. "It is obviously political, as is
everything else Davis has done." Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for the
governor, said the campaign was not on anyone's mind. "It was just a simple
note -- no one gave any thought to the election," she said. "This has to do
with good government service." The state has more than 100 agencies and
departments with Web pages. The e-mail from the governor's office said "the
image of the governor must be placed on the home page of agency, department,
board and commission Web sites." An unscientific survey of state Web sites by
the Chronicle shows varying degrees of compliance. The Department of Motor
Vehicles and all of the energy agencies have the governor's link. The Board
of Pharmacy has the link, but no picture. The director of Davis' e-government
initiative said the idea was to create a universal look and system so that
people would find the state sites easy to use. "It used to be that you
couldn't go from one state Web site to another," Arun Baheti said. "The most
often asked question was how do I contact the governor." Baheti said Davis
gets about 30,000 e-mails a month. But Fisfis said Davis was setting a new
low with his gimmickry. "He has set the bar so low it is outrageous," he
said. "We're becoming jaded by his antics." The governor's office cited many
awards received for the redesign and said other states and countrys were
traveling to California to see how they could duplicate the efforts. "We are
not going to stop government services because there is an election, " McLean
said. "We are going to keep doing our job and make government more accessable
to the public." McLean and Baheti pointed to the example of Secretary of
State Bill Jones' Web site, which prominently features a large picture of
Simon's former rival. "I didn't hear Simon's people complaining about that,"
McLean said. However, Fisfis sees the governor's site as an opportunity. "It
goes to a list of all his failed leadership," he said. "We may just put a
link on our Web site."

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