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Prop 224

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From:	"Wiener, Daniel", INTERNET:wiener(--nospam--at)
TO:	"'wildwoman1(--nospam--at)CompuServe.COM'", wildwoman1
CC:	"'dpwiener(--nospam--at)'", INTERNET:dpwiener(--nospam--at)
DATE:	3/26/98 3:59 PM

RE:	Prop 224

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From: "Wiener, Daniel" <wiener(--nospam--at)>
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Subject: Prop 224
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:59:20 -0800
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Dan Walters: Labor measure divides Demos
(Published March 25, 1998) 
 <<...>> LOS ANGELES -- When delegates to a Republican state convention
defied their leaders and endorsed a controversial ballot measure doing away
with bilingual education, it received major media attention. 
The action was widely interpreted as another indication that the Republican
Party is divided along ideological lines between hard-line conservatives and
That division is real and the bilingual education issue is just one
indication of it. Party leaders and moderates fear that a GOP endorsement of
the measure, even though it enjoys strong support in the polls, will
alienate Latino voters. 
The state Democratic Party is not, however, lacking in divisions of its own
and something very similar occurred during a weekend convention in Los
Angeles when delegates bucked their leadership and opposed a ballot measure
being pushed by public employee unions. 
Proposition 224, written by the union that represents state highway
engineers, is aimed at years-long efforts by Republican governors to use
private engineering contractors. It would, in essence, prohibit such
contracting-out and is being backed not only by Professional Engineers in
California Government, but the Service Employees International Union, which
represents many state workers and has led the fight against privatization. 
Ordinarily, a union-backed measure targeting a Republican program would
enjoy automatic backing by the state Democratic Party. And, in fact, state
party Chairman Art Torres endorsed it in principle last year. But the
opposition, led by the private engineering firms, has very adroitly
recruited allies among unions representing construction workers and, in a
huge coup, the California Teachers Association. 
There is, too, an ethnic tinge to the political infighting. State highway
engineers are mostly white men, and non-Anglo politicians have contended
that Proposition 224 would reduce contract work by minority- and
female-owned firms. 
The opponents recruited, among others, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, the
state's most prominent African American politician. The teachers' union,
meanwhile, was brought into the fray by assertions that if Proposition 224
were to be passed, it would reduce construction of new schools. 
The labor-splitting squabble came to the state party convention Friday as
agents for both pro- and anti-Proposition 224 forces marshaled their forces
for a floor battle. And state party leaders, who had made party unity their
convention theme, clearly didn't relish having a fight between two
Democratic factions. 
"I'm trying to keep the party out of it," Torres said as the convention
Anti-Proposition 224 forces, sensing victory, were not to be deterred by
party leaders. They won endorsements for opposing the measure from the
party's labor and resolutions committee and on Sunday, following a brief
skirmish of parliamentary maneuvering, the anti-224 position was adopted.
Proponents of the measure had attempted to stem the opposition onslaught,
but were overwhelmed. 
"It was an exciting weekend," Ted Green, a spokesman for the opposition
campaign, said. 
The action probably means more to the outcome of Proposition 224 than the
Republican position does to the bilingual measure. The latter is being
debated furiously in the media while the former is considered to be a
relatively minor measure and is, therefore, receiving less public notice.
Thus, voters will be more easily swayed on Proposition 224 by endorsements
and opposition by political parties and other groups. The anti-224 coalition
can now trumpet the Democratic Party opposition -- along with an identical
position by the Republican Party -- in its advertisements and mailings. 
DAN WALTERS' column appears daily, except Saturday. E-mail:
dwalters(--nospam--at) <mailto:dwalters(--nospam--at)>; mail: P.O. Box 15779,
Sacramento, 95852; phone: (916) 321-1195; fax: (916) 444-7838.