why john chiang is badass

Here's a good Los Angeles Times article on California Controller John Chiang, who has basically made himself the roadblock to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt to reduce the paychecks of some 200,000 state employees down to minimum wage: California controller's fortunes have risen through battles with governor.

The article attempts to create strong contrasts between Chiang and the governor, all the way down to their physical differences -- "the unassuming 47-year-old Democrat" versus "the muscle-bound Schwarzenegger." But when it comes down to it, he's the state controller standing up to the Terminator:
Schwarzenegger argues that unless the Legislature can agree on a state budget, he has no choice under state law but to pay workers the federal minimum wage. But Chiang, an independently elected official who won his office in 2006, has made the most of his authority to actually issue state checks. Since 2008, when the governor first pushed the effort to cut worker pay, confrontations with Schwarzenegger have been the hallmark of Chiang's tenure.

That year, after Chiang defied the governor's order to reduce pay, Schwarzenegger sued and won in both a trial and appeals court, but the rulings came long after that impasse had ended.

With yet another late budget this year, Schwarzenegger is again trying to slash workers' pay to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Workers would be repaid once a budget is signed.

Chiang is refusing on two grounds. The first is that his computer system, designed during the Vietnam War era, simply can't make the adjustment. The second is that, in trying to do so, the state would run afoul of other federal labor laws, such as one that requires anyone who works overtime to be paid in full.
Chiang's defiance of Schwarzenegger has made him a hero among the state labor unions, and has earned him quite a bit of political notoriety. Could California's top-ranking Asian American elected official eventually be headed for even higher office? Who knows? But first things first, the issue at hand. More here: Judge won't order pay cuts for state workers.

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