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Take Strong Stand

August 24, 1986

I am a San Diego city employee unequivocally opposed to the investment of San Diego City retirement funds in corporations with business holdings in South Africa. Additionally, when the City Council Retirement Board Subcommittee makes its final proposal, corporate signatories to the Rev. Leon Sullivan Principles should absolutely not be exempt from any city investment ban.

Of course it is easy to understand why city councils, city treasurers or retirement boards might want to settle for Sullivan Statement endorsements, which reaffirm basic American principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action. The rhetoric to some may sound well-meaning or even enlightened. But in the South African context, the Sullivan Statement has little meaning.

It is a dubious proposition that reforms of South African institutions are possible within the framework of apartheid. Affirmative action does nothing to address or even challenge the system.

The issue in South Africa at this time is black political power--it is not slightly higher wages or better benefits or training programs, unless these lead to basic social change. As one South African church leader put it, "These (Sullivan) principles attempt to polish my chains and make them more comfortable. I want to cut my chains and cast them away."

The issue in San Diego is clear. We must have and can have a pension fund investment policy that preserves the economic integrity of the funds without compromising the moral integrity of the intended beneficiaries--the citizens and employees of the City of San Diego.

I categorically reject any implication that there must be contradictions between a morally sound and economically sound investment strategy. The City/County Reinvestment Task Force has identified numerous viable economic investment alternatives which do not jeopardize the security of the pension funds and which can maintain the profitability of the funds. Numerous socially responsible investment funds have proven that the prudent investor can preserve his or her morality while advancing his or her economic self-interest.

If the City Council agrees, as it must, that this system of apartheid is repugnant and offensive to the concept of human dignity, then I urge the City Council to take the logical step of ceasing investment activity which supports that system.

I urge the City Council to establish and live by the principle of no equivocation in city opposition to apartheid.


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