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Davis' Picks Look a Lot Like Wilson's

Appointees requiring Senate approval are fairly alike in terms of gender and race, records show.

October 13, 2002|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO -- In gender and racial makeup, Gov. Gray Davis' appointees who require Senate approval are not much different from those of Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican criticized by minorities for his opposition to affirmative action and illegal immigration, Senate records show.

Davis appointments secretary Michael Yamaki disputes the statistics, saying that limiting the analysis to appointees who require Senate approval excludes hundreds of others named to Cabinet posts, judgeships and scores of boards and commissions.

State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, which must review nearly 600 appointees to more than 75 boards and commissions, is questioning the ethnic and gender makeup of boards and commissions.

"The administration, it seems, does not take the necessary steps to ensure that persons of color are provided adequate opportunities to serve the public as gubernatorial appointees," Romero said in a letter to Latino lawmakers earlier this year.

She sent a similar letter to women lawmakers.

Romero stopped short of concluding that the bulk of the appointments go to white men because they are the ones who contribute most campaign money. But in an interview, she said: "Maybe it is time to ask additional questions: Have they contributed, and how much?"

Sen. Ross Johnson of Irvine, the lead Republican on the Rules Committee, also noticed the composition of Davis' appointees: "The general impression is that we're confirming an awful lot of white men. It is dramatically out of line with the rhetoric of the governor."

The Senate's count, based on information supplied by the Davis administration, shows that of his 592 appointees requiring Senate confirmation, 28.9% were women, 10.6% were Latino, 7.3% were African American and 6.6% were Asian American.

Wilson's first-term appointees were similar: 28.4% women, 9% Latino, 6.1% African American, and 4.2% of Asian decent. One difference is that Wilson was more partisan; 90% of his appointees were Republicans and 80% of Davis' appointees are Democrats.

Yamaki counters that the Senate figures ignore large numbers of appointees who required no confirmation.

His statistics include posts that require Senate confirmation, plus Cabinet jobs, judgeships, many professional boards and others, including nearly 500 county fair board members.

The administration's numbers show that Davis' full list of appointees is 40% women, 7.4% Asian Americans, 7.3% African Americans, and 10.9% Latinos. Wilson, according to the Davis administration, appointed 38% women, 4.7% Asian Americans, 4.8% African Americans and 6.3% Latinos.

"I'll go toe to toe with anybody on this," Yamaki said. "We've got the diversity.... I can't go back to L.A., I can't go back to my community, if we don't."

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