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Bradley Charges 'Flip-Flop' : Deukmejian Able to Seize Initiative on Divestiture

July 19, 1986|JANET CLAYTON | Times Staff Writer

SANTA CRUZ — Gov. George Deukmejian and his political rival, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, finally found something they could agree on--divestiture by the University of California of holdings with links to South Africa--but the truce between the gubernatorial candidates was short-lived.

Deukmejian persuaded the UC Regents on Friday to adopt his proposal for divestiture of $3.1 billion in university investments over a four-year period.

The governor, who last year vetoed a milder divestiture bill that had been passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, has managed this week to seize the issue and make it his own. While Bradley has been advocating divestiture for more than a year, it was Deukmejian who convinced some skeptical regents to support his proposal and fought repeated attempts to weaken it.

Gives Impassioned Speech

Bradley nonetheless attended the meeting to speak in favor of divestiture, and did so in an impassioned speech that recalled the lead the University of California had taken decades ago in fighting racial segregation. He said it was time once again for the university to lead the fight against racial injustice--this time, the apartheid policy of the South African government.

Recalling his days as a track athlete at UCLA in the 1930s, when many colleges were segregated, Bradley said he personally encountered "humiliation" while traveling with his team in the South. He was told, he said, " 'You can't stay in this hotel; you can't eat in this restaurant.' "

The UCLA administration, he said, then "said to those Southern universities, 'Either all of our players will compete, or none would.'

"That one little action of courage had an impact then, and a greater one in years to come," Bradley said.

Questions Governor's Position

Neither Bradley nor Deukmejian acknowledged each other during their speeches to the regents.

But later, talking with reporters, Bradley called Deukmejian's advocacy of divestiture a "monumental flip-flop."

"It has to raise questions of whether it was an expedient action during the course of the campaign or if he truly believes it," Bradley said.

The mayor reminded reporters that he successfully pushed his own divestiture plan last year in the City of Los Angeles.

That plan will eventually lead to the withdrawal of $1.5 billion in city funds from banks doing business in South Africa.

This year, with the approval of the City Council, Bradley's policy was expanded to limit city purchases from firms doing business in South Africa, an action the mayor suggested the state also should consider.

Considers Expansion of Policy

While Deukmejian said Friday that he will consider an expansion of the policy passed Friday by the regents, he added that it was "regrettable" that Bradley suggested that the governor may have been motivated by election-year politics.

The divestiture issue "should not be subjected to any petty partisanship," Deukmejian said at a press conference after the regents' vote.

The governor, who also is seeking divestiture of South African holdings by two large state pension funds, said he will soon discuss with Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) legislation that would put this policy into effect.

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