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Deukmejian Opposes 3 Controversial Propositions

September 03, 1986|GEORGE SKELTON | Times Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian announced his opposition Tuesday to three controversial measures on the Nov. 4 ballot--proposals to decree English to be the official state language, restrict activities of AIDS victims and aggressively control toxic discharges into drinking water.

The governor also took positions on the other 10 statewide ballot propositions, endorsing nine and opposing one--a measure to limit the salaries of top state and local officials.

Acting one day after the kickoff of his fall reelection campaign against Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Deukmejian formally drew a line in the political sand between himself and his Democratic opponent on the anti-toxics initiative, Proposition 65. Bradley is a strong supporter of the measure and has made criticism of the governor's record on toxics cleanup a centerpiece of his underdog campaign.

'Would Drive Away Jobs'

Deukmejian, in a three-page statement outlining his stands on the 13 ballot measures, said of Proposition 65: "It would drive away jobs by putting an unbearable burden on farmers and small businesses. . . . (It) will create a lot of new business for lawyers, but it won't result in one single glass of cleaner water. It is poorly drafted, unfair and transparently political."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 4, 1986 Home Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 1 Metro Desk 2 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
A story in Wednesday's Times about Gov. George Deukmejian's stand on ballot propositions incorrectly identified as Proposition 61 an initiative sponsored by the late Howard Jarvis that would make it more difficult for local governments to raise taxes. The Jarvis measure, which Deukmejian supports, is Proposition 62 on the November ballot.

Looking at Deukmejian's positions from outside the political arena, probably the most interesting from a purely human standpoint is his opposition to the English language measure, Proposition 63.

Deukmejian's parents were Armenian immigrants who learned to speak English after settling in New York state. Proposition 63, strongly backed by former U.S. Sen. S. I. Hayakawa, would require the Legislature and state government to "ensure that the role of English as the common language . . . is preserved and enhanced." Opponents, including Asian and Latino immigrant groups, contend that the measure could mean, among other things, the curtailment of bilingual education.

Deukmejian said the proposal is "unnecessary" because "in practice, English is already California's dominant language, and there is no compelling reason to add such a provision to the state Constitution. (It) would not result in any individual learning English any faster or better. . . ."

Then in words relatively emotional for him, the governor added: "(The proposal) would also cause fear, confusion and resentment among many minority Californians, who see the measure as an effort to legislate the cultural superiority of native English-speaking people. Without questioning the sincere motives of its sponsors, the initiative as drafted is insensitive to our state's ethnic diversity, which is one of our great strengths."

Deukmejian's opposition to Proposition 63 apparently puts him at odds with the public, according to the most recent survey of the independent California Poll. The poll showed that registered voters favored the proposal by more than 3 to 1. However, Bradley also opposes the measure, so any potential political damage to either candidate would seem to be neutralized.

The AIDS initiative, Proposition 64, is the product of a group tied to ultraconservative political activist Lyndon H. LaRouche. It would list AIDS as an infectious, contagious disease, despite a lack of medical evidence that the AIDS virus can be transmitted except through sexual contact or the exchange of blood. Listing AIDS as infectious could require health officials to quarantine victims and bar potential sufferers of the disease from schools and restaurant kitchens.

Deukmejian said the proposal--also opposed by Bradley--is "wholly unnecessary and unwarranted."

The governor added that "complex, sensitive medical judgments about various medical conditions . . . are best left in the hands of medical experts." And he argued that "health officers already have the tools they need to protect the public and to take the necessary actions to minimize the spread of this deadly disease."

On the anti-toxics measure, Deukmejian made it clear that he is very irritated with Bradley's use of the issue in his gubernatorial campaign. The governor charged that the proposition "misrepresents our record and our commitment to clean water." And he criticized the initiative because, among other things, "it exempts large admitted polluters like the City of Los Angeles."

Bradley's campaign chairman, Tom Quinn, responded that "once again George Deukmejian has sided with toxic polluters and against the people."

In opposing the measure to limit the salaries of state and local officials to 80% of what the governor is paid--Proposition 61, by tax crusader Paul Gann--Deukmejian said: "It would drain our governmental, educational and medical institutions of some of our most experienced talent. . . . (It) could make California a second-rate state." Bradley also opposes the measure.

Deukmejian endorsed an initiative sponsored by another tax crusader, the late Howard Jarvis. The proposal, Proposition 61, would make it more difficult to raise local taxes by requiring a two-thirds vote of a government body, plus majority approval of the voters. The governor said the measure would keep California firmly on the "common-sense path" that has kept down taxes since voter approval in 1978 of Proposition 13, sponsored by Jarvis and Gann. Bradley opposes the proposal.

Deukmejian endorsed $1.8 billion in bond issues: Proposition 53, providing $800 million for school construction; Proposition 54, $500 million for new prison construction; Proposition 55, $100 million for drinking water systems, and Proposition 56, $400 million for higher education facilities. Bradley also backs the measures.

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