OAKLAND — After days of intense controversy over whether he will support keeping Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird on the state Supreme Court, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley asserted Wednesday that he will not be "persuaded, pushed, rushed--by anyone" into making a decision.
With Gov. George Deukmejian continuing to taunt Bradley that he "wants to be governor and appoint judges and can't even decide whether he will support the chief justice," with Democratic leaders like Assembly Speaker Willie Brown saying Bradley should have made up his mind long ago, and with even some of his own advisers pushing him to take a stand on the controversial chief justice, a resolute Bradley stood his ground. He said firmly Wednesday that he will deal with the Bird issue "on my timetable."
Bird and five other Supreme Court justices are up for confirmation by the voters on the November ballot. Conservative groups have targeted for defeat liberal members of the court, particularly Bird, who has always voted to overturn death penalty convictions.
Bradley, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Feb. 24 that he will state his position on Bird within 60 days and added Wednesday that his decision would likely come "well before" the deadline.
Attempt to Refocus Campaign
During separate speeches Wednesday before union groups in Sacramento and here, Bradley attempted to steer his campaign focus away from Bird.
As he did once before, Bradley urged Deukmejian to return campaign contributions from "toxic polluters" and "convicted criminals." The latter was a reference to political corruption figure W. Patrick Moriarty. Bradley called on Deukmejian to return $17,000 in campaign contributions the governor received during his 1982 campaign from Moriarty associates. Moriarty, an Anaheim fireworks manufacturer, was recently sentenced to seven years in federal prison on charges of mail fraud in connection with banking transactions and bribery of public officials. Deukmejian was not accused of any impropriety in the case. In response to the Bradley challenge, Deukmejian campaign director Larry Thomas said the governor has "absolutely no hard evidence that we ever received a contribution from Moriarty." Bradley also said Deukmejian should return $19,250 contributed by Deukmejian friends who own a Monterey Park hazardous waste landfill. The Deukmejian Administration has tried to have federal environmental controls removed from a dump site owned by the contributors. The governor has said that state officials seeking the federal exemption did not know the owners were 1982 campaign contributors.
And Bradley called upon Deukmejian to sign a "fair campaign code" that would, among other things, allow candidates to review each other's campaign material before it is mailed or broadcast. Bradley made a similar proposal during the 1982 gubernatorial campaign. Deukmejian countered with his own "code," and the two candidates never agreed on one.
Despite his attempts to deflect them, Bradley still found that questions about Bird continued Wednesday in Northern California, from both the audience and the press.
"I wish I had a dollar for every bit of advice, every question" on Bird, Bradley told a union member who also posed the question. "You'll get your statement . . . but I'm going to do it according to my priorities, not somebody else's."
Bradley accused Deukmejian of "one of the great acts of hypocrisy" because the governor has not stated his position on justices other than Bird on the November ballot.
Thomas said Deukmejian "already has made his mind up on three (supporting two justices he appointed, Malcolm M. Lucas and Edward A. Panelli, and opposing Bird). That's three more than Bradley." Deukmejian is "leaning against" Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph R. Grodin, Thomas said.
Asked if he has been pressured by advisers to settle the Bird question, Bradley replied:
"They should know, if they've watched me throughout my political career, I'm my own man. I make decisions according to my timetable. I'm not going to be persuaded, pushed, rushed--by anybody." Asked if when pushed, he becomes more stubborn, Bradley replied, "Maybe."