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Sacramento Politics

January 06, 1991

The voters of California resoundingly rejected politics as usual in the November election. Apparently, the Assembly Democratic leadership didn't get the message. According to a Times story ("Hayden Says He'll Head New Panel Amid Bid to Strip Him of Labor Post," Dec. 20), it's politics as usual in Sacramento.

Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) was one of a handful of legislators who supported the one measure on the November ballot that promised real political reform: Proposition 131. Endorsed by Common Cause, the Sierra Club, NOW and other public interest organizations, as well as The Times, 131 would have enacted comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform. It also would have enacted responsible term limits, thus engendering the wrath of many politicians, including the Assembly Democratic leadership.

Hayden was not a vocal proponent of 131. He simply stated that he supported the measure's strong campaign finance and ethics provisions, even though he, too, would be subject to 131's term limitations.

For his quiet act of political courage, Hayden is now being punished. Reportedly, he is being replaced by Terry Friedman (D-Los Angeles), who, not surprisingly was one of the leading Assembly opponents of 131--contributing some $20,000 of his campaign funds to defeat the measure.

Surely, the Assembly Democratic leadership has more important things to do than exact revenge on an elected official with the courage to stand with the people instead of his fellow politicians.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown should return the Labor Committee chair to Hayden. Friedman should refuse the chair if it's offered. It's time for political posturing to end and for real governing to begin.

LISA FOSTER, Executive Director, California Common Cause

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