The California flag hangs upside-down in Glenn Spencer's hilltop home, the international SOS sign and the symbol, he says, of a state with its priorities topsy-turvy.
Until now, that is.
Spencer said last week's passage of Proposition 187 has given California a chance to survive--by barring illegal immigrants from most government services. Passage of the initiative also culminates two years of effort that began on the patio of his Sherman Oaks home.
That is where Spencer--alarmed by what he said was a noticeable increase in the number of minorities in the city--began a grass-roots movement against undocumented residents--called Voice of Citizens Together. The group later joined with the so-called "save our state" campaign, with Spencer turning his home into the hub of the Proposition 187 drive in the San Fernando Valley. His home office has been a principal research center on illegal immigration, with volunteers answering phones.
Spencer said Monday that his group has a new goal--to ensure that the initiative is implemented. The group, working with Proposition 187 campaign Chairman Ron Prince in Orange County, plans a recall drive against Los Angeles Board of Education members--likely to include board President Mark Slavkin--because of their efforts to challenge the measure using public funds.
Spencer is holding a meeting Thursday at Riverside Drive Elementary School in Sherman Oaks to discuss recall plans and other legal avenues to stop city and county officials from trying to block implementation of Proposition 187.
Illegal immigration, said Spencer, 57, a semi-retired geothermal engineer, simply cannot continue.
"We have people who are flooding across our borders with a very high fertility rate and a very low educational level," he said. "We're exporting jobs and importing poverty. And unless something is done, this state has nothing to face but fiscal havoc."
Spencer, the son of a songwriter who co-wrote the theme to the television show "Gunsmoke" and the grandson of one of the members of the singing group Sons of the Pioneers, says the federal government should give illegal immigrants free transportation and a cash bonus if they return to their native countries. Illegal immigrant parents of children born in this country should be included as well, he said.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials, who won a temporary injunction last week against the measure being implemented at schools, said the district could lose up to $650 million in federal funds if they are forced to question students' legal status. Under Proposition 187, schools would be required to verify the immigration status of students and their parents.
Board members said they believe that any recall efforts will fail, and that Proposition 187 will be declared unconstitutional.
"In the end, I think that people will find that upholding the Constitution is not something for which people should be punished," Slavkin said. "People are in an angry mood and are looking for targets to vent their anger."
To get an election scheduled to oust board members, recall proponents must gather the signatures of 15% of the registered voters in the board district. Slavkin's district, which includes part of the west San Fernando Valley, has about 350,000 voters. Getting signatures, Spencer said, will not be a problem because of the groundswell of support shown by voters.
Prince, the Tustin accountant who ran the Proposition 187 campaign, said Spencer played an important role in the effort.
"His research has been very significant in informing the public about the problem of illegal immigration," Prince said. Spencer's group was key to gathering signatures that qualified the ballot initiative, and later, in campaigning for its passage, Prince added.
Spencer formed Valley Citizens Together but the group changed its name after residents from other parts of Los Angeles wanted to be involved. Spencer said he counts about 2,000 members but admits that not all pay the group's $15 to $25 annual dues.