SACRAMENTO — The rich bounty of California was on full display inside the Sacramento Convention Center on Wednesday as decision makers and business leaders gathered amid piles of fruits and vegetables for the 82nd annual Sacramento Host Breakfast. While agriculture may have been the day’s theme, the achievements, talents and heroics of Golden State natives and newcomers were celebrated as well.

California’s most famous immigrant, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, headlined a program that included the

Huie Lovelady & Unity Choir

, a tribute to the U.S. armed forces and a moving address by California Army National Guard Capt. Danjel Bout, a decorated Iraq War veteran.

The breakfast followed the

California Chamber of Commerce’s 21st annual California Business Legislative Summit and drew a crowd of 1,400, including nearly 50 business leaders representing the Regional Legislative Alliance of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties

Schwarzenegger was in top form for the business audience he has courted throughout his time in office. Taking the stage after a dry address on energy by CalChamber board chairman Ed Guiles, he extolled the

Sempra Energy

chairman and CEO’s “warm-up act.”

“Isn’t it exciting when you have someone talk to you about energy this early in the morning?” he asked. Hearing a smattering of laughter, he deadpanned, “Yeah, I know.”

Citing a few of the issues he and the CalChamber successfully have fought for over the years — the repeal of the car tax, the Proposition 49 after-school programs initiative and the infrastructure bond measures, to name a few — he signaled out the CalChamber’s annual

“Job-Killer” List

and proudly noted that it was always the same as his.

“When those bills come to my desk, they are terminated,” he laughed, before turning serious: “The bills we want to sign are job-creating bills so we can maintain a healthy economy and not drive our businesses out of state.”

Schwarzenegger said he was happy to talk about the California budget and his May revision, which is intended to help erase a $15 billion deficit. He said his blueprint changes the “feast or famine” cycle that has plagued California in recent years and creates a rainy-day fund via a constitutional amendment. In the short term, he said, the gap can’t be closed by cuts alone.

“We have to introduce revenues without raising taxes,” he said. “That’s why we want to ‘securitize’ Lottery funds.”

Schwarzenegger dismissed criticism from both the left and the right.

“My budget is in the middle and, so far, it is the only budget in town,” he said. “If the Democrats don’t like it, they can propose their own budget. If Republicans don’t like it, they can propose their own.”

Ultimately, he said, “what really gets us out of this mess is to stimulate the economy.”

To do so, he said he was committed to creating public-private partnerships to tackle $500 billion in infrastructure needs; establishing employer protections from frivolous lawsuits; and winning redistricting reform. In the last three elections, he said, only four of California’s 496 legislative seats have changed hands because of gerrymandering.

“Our system is rigged,” he said. “It is worse than Russia!

“… Instead of the people choosing the politicians, the politicians are choosing the people.”

Wednesday’s breakfast wrapped up with a presentation from Dan Dunmoyer, Schwarzenegger’s deputy chief of staff and Cabinet secretary, who made a pitch for the 26th Board of Governors Conference his boss is hosting Aug. 13-15 in Hollywood. The conference is made up of the four U.S. border states — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — as well as the six in Mexico — Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Sonora and Tamaulipas — and, together, they create the third-largest economic region in the world. The ties that bind are deep, Dunmoyer said, with Mexico being California’s largest trading partner — to the tune of $18 billion in exports each year.

Afterward, the RLA got down to business, holding a succession of meetings with top officials, including Dick Castner and Matt Klemin of the

U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Kathy Cole, executive legislative representative of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Rob Lapsley, the CalChamber’s vice president of public affairs; Chrstina Lokke, policy advocate of California Common Cause; Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, the new chairman of the Assembly Banking & Finance Committee; Michael Prosio, Schwarzenegger’s chief deputy legislative secretary; and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth

, R-Simi Valley.

Founded in 2001, the RLA includes the

Camarillo, Carpinteria Valley, Fillmore, Gold Coast Hispanic, Goleta Valley, Moorpark, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Simi Valley and Ventura chambers of commerce, as well as the Ventura County Economic Development Association

. The organization represents more than 300,000 employees and has been an effective advocate for business locally, regionally and in Sacramento.

Representing the Goleta Valley chamber were Kristen Amyx, the chamber’s president and CEO; Tom Blabey, its public policy director; Mark Dispenza, an associate at

Holmes & Holmes Insurance Agency Inc.; Joanne Funari, president of Business First Bank; Jim Knight, Goleta Valley board chairman and a consultant with Flir; Bill Macfadyen, Noozhawk publisher and CEO; Earl McCutcheon of ATK Space Systems; and Don Oparah, director of the UCSB Venture Acceleration Initiative


The Carpinteria Valley chamber was represented by Steve Greig of

Venoco Inc.; Lynda Lang, the chamber’s president and CEO; and Suzanne Scar, owner of Central Coast Imaging Solutions Inc.


Also from Santa Barbara County were Lisa Rivas, RLA’s executive director, and Bob Poole, South Coast district director of the

Western States Petroleum Association


From Ventura County, the Camarillo chamber was represented by Mitchell Crespi, general manager/regional manager of

Courtyard by Marriott; Gary Cushing, owner of Marie Callendar’s

; and Tom Kelley, the chamber’s president and CEO.

The Fillmore chamber was represented by Jeff Gorell and Ernie Villegas, partners in

Paladin Principle LLC


Representing the Gold Coast Hispanic chamber were Brenda Allison, a broker with

Coast General Insurance Brokers

; Ashley Bailey, the chamber’s director; and Lin Graf of Paladin Principle.

Moorpark was represented by Patrick Ellis, the chamber president and CEO.

Representing the Oxnard chamber were Kathy Leahy, CEO of

Goodwill Industries of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties

, and chamber president and CEO Nancy Lindholm.

Santa Paula was represented by John Blanchard, the chamber president and CEO.

Simi Valley’s delegation included Norman Beebe of the

East County Job & Career Center; Larry Hibbler, owner of Simi Valley Ford; Janine Montoya, owner of Valley Aire Heating & Air Conditioning; Leigh Nixon, the chamber’s president and CEO; Chuck Rosen of CPR Insurance; Shari Schultz, owner of New Directions Event Planning; Tom Tarn of Boeing Co.; and Harry VanDyck of Century Accounting & Tax Solutions


Representing the Ventura chamber were Bob Alviani, Ventura Chamber PAC chairman; Judy Diaz of

TWIW Insurance Services; Doug Halter, owner of Halter-Encinas Enterprises; and attorney Bill Winfield, a partner at Nordman, Cormany, Hair & Compton LLP


Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.