The mayor of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Austrian hometown on Tuesday begged the California governor to reconsider his decision to cut ties to the city after locals assailed him for his death penalty stance.
Siegfried Nagl, mayor of the southern city of Graz, said he wrote Schwarzenegger pleading with him not to return a ring of honor bestowed on him by officials in his birthplace in 1999 and reassuring him that most residents still admire him.
"I hope that very soon we'll hear you say, 'I'll be back,'" Nagl told the actor-turned-politician, one of Austria's most famous sons.
On Monday, Schwarzenegger caused a stir by turning the tables on Austrians who criticized the governor's refusal to block the executions of convicted killers. He sent Graz officials a letter asking them to remove his name from a soccer stadium and stop using it to promote the city, and said he was giving back the ring because it "has lost its meaning and value to me."
His demands effectively pre-empted a drive launched by opponents in Austria who already were gathering signatures on a petition calling for the 15,300-seat arena in Graz, about 120 miles south of Vienna, to be renamed.