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Commentary

Guards' Clout With Gov. Davis

April 06, 2002

I never thought I would become a single-issue voter. However, Gov. Gray Davis' granting an indefensible pay increase to correctional officers after their union gave him the largest single check he has received since taking office pushes me to the edge. I am a retired employee of the Department of Corrections with over 30 years of service, so I should be glad for my former brothers. But this is too much. As a taxpayer I object to giving such a gigantic increase to a single group of employees when the rest of the state departments are being asked to take cuts. I am angered at the denial by the governor that there is any connection between the pay raise and the political contribution. Of course there is a connection. The only question is how much of a connection.

Don't try to clean this one up, governor. It can only get worse for you. I can imagine how you and your staff must have laughed when the Republicans elected Bill Simon to run against you. Now I bet they are laughing about the big hammer you just gave them to use against you. My innocence about politics was lost a long time ago, but this one is so blatant that I may have sit on my hands this election.

Howard McGarry

Upland

*

It might be true, as you suggested in your April 1 editorial, that Davis is motivated by political payback in giving raises to our state's prison guards. But whatever the reason, the guards should be well paid for their work. I cannot imagine a more stressful or more necessary job than keeping order in prison. The prison guards deserve every penny they receive.

Michael David Smith

Long Beach

*

The Times was correct when it wrote "follow the political clout and the campaign money" of the prison guards union and you'll see the reasoning behind the governor's actions. This maxim also applies to the governor's plan to build a $335-million (plus interest), unneeded, unwanted prison in Delano.

A statewide coalition has been fighting plans to build this prison since 1999 when Davis made the Delano prison his first of a series of "thank you" presents to the guards for their 1998 endorsement and $2.3 million in contributions. The governor has boasted, "There is not a major supporter of mine who has not had at least one or two of their measures vetoed." The Delano prison gives him another opportunity to apply his axiom.

Rose Braz

Director

Critical Resistance

Oakland

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