The governor

GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger's year began with an apology and ended with a victory. In other words, it got better as it went along. His performance evaluation reflects his progress in several important areas.

Knowledge of job: Meets expectations. Employee was recently rehired to four-year term and appears to have settled into job. Has become more comfortable with company culture and the bounds of his authority following a shaky start. Has also come to develop a much better knowledge of the organization's goals, has embraced them as his own and has begun to lead.

Job effectiveness: Exceeds expectations. With colleagues in other branches of organization, produced landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, placed on ballot and persuaded voters to approve unprecedented infrastructure bond measures, brokered low-cost prescription drug plan, opened debate on housing and healthcare issues.

Critical thinking skills: Exceeds expectations. Perceives political problems, navigates them to achieve policy objectives. Previous position involved rote learning and heavily rehearsed behavior; employee's ability to improvise and respond to conditions is a welcome surprise.

Works well with others: Exceeds expectations. Employee was hired after severely criticizing performance of predecessor in position and colleagues-to-be, but he abandoned adversarial approach and developed close working relationships with other branch leaders to produce substantive programs. Rapport with Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has become exemplar for those holding his position. Has developed strategic dialogue with private enterprise, labor and other experts to solve some of organization's deepest problems. Has demonstrated outstanding teamwork and consensus-building skills. Exhibits little of the egocentricity for which he was known in previous positions.

Financial management: Below expectations. Produced competent budget. Failed to reduce structural budget deficit of over $5 billion. Persists in troublesome campaign finance practices, such as raising money from donors while bills affecting their interests await his signature or veto.

Areas for improvement: Must work harder to effect many of the financial controls for which he was first hired. Employee has committed to solving state's healthcare, prisons, budget deficit, redistricting and immigration problems -- tasks that should be expected to keep him occupied through the first fiscal quarter.

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