Schwarzenegger to Hometown: Remove My Name

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in a rather nasty dispute with his childhood hometown, Graz, Austria.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday told officials in his hometown in Austria to remove his name from a sports stadium and stop using his identity to promote the city. The governor’s request came after politicians in Graz began a petition drive to rename the stadium, reacting to Schwarzenegger’s decision last week to deny clemency to condemned inmate Stanley Tookie Williams. Opposition to the death penalty is strong in Austria.

In a letter that began “Dear Mister Mayor,” Schwarzenegger said he decided to spare the Graz city council “further concern” should he be forced to make other clemency decisions while he’s governor. Another inmate is scheduled to be executed in California Jan. 17.

“In all likelihood, during my term as governor, I will have to make similar and equally difficult decisions,” Schwarzenegger said in the letter. “To spare the responsible politicians of the city of Graz further concern, I withdraw from them as of this day the right to use my name in association with the Liebenauer Stadium.”


In the letter, Schwarzenegger also said he would no longer permit the use of his name “to advertise or promote the city of Graz in any way” and would return the city’s “ring of honor.” The ring was given to him in a ceremony in Graz in 1999. At the time, Schwarzenegger said he considered it “a token of sincere friendship between my hometown and me.” “Since, however, the official Graz appears to no longer accept me as one of their own, this ring has lost its meaning and value to me. It is already in the mail,” the governor wrote.

That’s harsh.

While being hurt by the reaction of some in his hometown is understandable, as is the desire to preempt whatever publicity value having them remove the name first, the tone of the letter strikes me as rather meanspirited. Presumably, many if not most people in Graz have affection for him and, one would hope, he for them. Politics should not trump that.

Update: Rob Smith disagrees, thinking his reaction makes Arnie a perfect Southern gentleman.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Patrick McGuire says:

    Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, you have to admire his willingness to take a stand and spit in the eye of his adversaries.

  2. McGehee says:

    Note that Arnold specified “the responsible politicians of the city of Graz” and “the official Graz” in his letter.

  3. Elmo says:

    I’m with Arnie (and Pat above). Taking a stand. No vacillating. No checking which direction the wind is blowing. Possibly politics entered into his look at Tookie a tiny bit (?).

    But I feel in Arnie we have a committed public servant, who takes his job very seriously. Whatever his mistakes, or his failings.

    The Euro’s arguments about Tookie, are as empty as their 24/7 Bush eats babies for breakfast mantra.

    Go Arnie!

  4. Robert says:

    And it wasn’t AT ALL meanspirited to start a petition to remove his name from the stadium for doing what he believed was right.

    Cry me another river.

  5. Anderson says:

    Can’t fault the Austrians’ death penalty stance, but I wish they’d displayed similar disapproval towards Nazism.

  6. Joel says:

    Not at all meanspirited. Note he directed his wrath to the politicos. If the people disagree, let them raise Cain with their leadership. Or turn them out on their ears. A sincere apology would probably make things right. But the statement needs to be made… firmly.

    I wouldn’t have been so polite. There probably would be an invitation for a kiss and a mention of the left or right side of a certain anatomical part.