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Wilson Failed Test of Leadership for State

October 23, 1994

I don't accept Michael J. Boskin's argument that as governor of California, Pete Wilson has only limited indirect influence on national and global economic events ("Wilson Is Better Candidate to Lead State Out of Long Nightmare," Oct. 16).

To the contrary, as head of the nation's most populous state with one of the world's largest economies, a wise and politically cogent California governor conceivably could wield substantial influence domestically and abroad. Other than his persistent hounding for more federal dollars and a scant few economic development victories, Wilson hasn't used the California pulpit effectively for California.

However, we should not easily let Wilson off the hook for his failure in the one area where a governor clearly does have enormous influence: as a forceful and active advocate for the state he was elected to lead.

Shortly after taking office, Wilson failed this test of leadership by publicly labeling California "a bad product," a damaging comment for any governor to make whatever his or her personal views of a state and its problems. Predictably, California's detractors and some economic development officials from competitor states promptly used Wilson's blanket condemnation of the state as license to denigrate California at every turn.

Like all states, California has its share of problems and challenges, but it does not deserve the "bad product" label. Wilson should apologize to all Californians for having uttered such a disgraceful comment.

FRANK J. GARZA

Los Angeles

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