If you’re looking for news about Janet Napolitano’s opulent new living style in California, don’t expect to find it in the pages of the Arizona República. Stories abound of the onetime Arizona governor and Obama’s former Homeland Security chieftain being hired on as the University of California president. But nary a word about her lavish new digs — a mansion being restored by the nearly bankrupt state of California at a cost estimated up to $6 million. In 2008 the costly renovation was ditched when the estimates came in at $8 to $9 million. The historic Blake House has been home to university presidents for decades and the now vacant property — which sits on 10 acres of Mediterranean gardens — is in need of updating. In UC lingo, the showplace is needed to “accommodate essential entertainment functions.”
The deluxe residence overlooking the bay, is quite a leap from the more humble walk-up condo at Renaissance Square in downtown Phoenix where Napolitano previously hung her hat. The never married Napolitano will presumably be rattling around the grand expanses solo.
While the renovation is underway, she will reside in a 3,500 square foot rental in Oakland with a mere $10,000 monthly price tag — thoughtfully provided by the university system.
Since Napolitano’s base annual salary is reportedly $570,000, plus an additional $142,500 in moving expenses. It seems she could kick in a buck or two toward the rental.
The University of California is hardly in a position to gush such generosity since budget cuts have caused student tuition fees to double and teachers to be sacked. Yet despite the reductions, The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the UC regents’ buildings and grounds committee voted unanimously Tuesday to begin the renovations to the three-bedroom, seven-bath residence. Plans include adding a laundry, kitchen and upgraded bathrooms, along with roof repairs to the 4,300-square-foot private living quarters in the 13,269-square-foot mansion.
Even the UK’s Daily Mail’ has a complete report including photos, which can be read here. The República’s report? Don’t hold your breath.
H/T to SRAZ reader and commenter Saguaro Sam