When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off his Terminate Violence campaign at an L.A. news conference in March, he was especially proud of the jazzy free shirts handed out to the crowd. “I said that I wanted to help here. I wanted to make it even bigger, and so this is why we came up with those T-shirts, the Terminator T-shirts,” said the beaming governor, standing with L.A. sheriff Leroy Baca, flanked by children wearing the black-and-white shirts featuring an image of Schwarzenegger’s signature alongside a portrait of his character in the famous movie. “And the Terminator T-shirts is all about saying terminate violence,” he added. “And, of course, on the front of the T-shirt you see a great image of a very handsome cyborg, and I think that underneath it says, you know, ‘Terminate Violence.’ ”
The news conference was promoting the L.A. sheriff’s department’s Gifts for Guns program, encouraging gun owners to turn in their weapons anonymously. In return, they get the T-shirt along with a $100 gift card for use at Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, or Ralphs supermarkets, or a $200 card if they turn over an assault rifle. “I think that it will inspire some of the young kids to come in and give up their guns and get a T-shirt in return,” Schwarzenegger said.
Money to buy the gift cards was put up by Baca’s department. The $18,971 for the governor’s personalized T-shirts, on the other hand, came from none other than San Diego district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a fellow Republican, who dipped into her office’s asset-forfeiture fund. Her spokesman Paul Levikow says the money represents cash seized in drug busts and similar sources and doesn’t tap the county general fund. Dumanis is rumored to be interested in future statewide office. But Levikow says that the balance of the asset forfeiture funds, which amount to $388,293 a year, have gone to local anticrime causes, including funding a youth advisory board at Lincoln High, lights for the Bay Vista apartment complex, and “Four or Forty: The Choice Is Yours,” a video campaign counseling students that what they do in their four years of middle school will impact the next 40 years of their lives.