John Diaz, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle editorial page has written an opinion piece in support of Proposition 11 that suggests that Latinos would benefit from the initiative. Mr. Diaz, criticizes minority advocacy groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund that have suggested that minority representation would be inhibited by proposition 11.
The backlash against Proposition 11 has been predictable, fierce and duplicitous. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, in fundraising pitches against Prop. 11, has characterized it as a Republican power grab – which is ludicrous in view of the measure’s drafters and supporters. Since when have the ACLU and Democratic stalwarts such as Gray Davis and Steve Westly been part of the GOP conspiracy?
The opposition of a few civil-rights groups has been both surprising and disappointing. Representatives of three of those groups (including MALDEF) met with our editorial board last week. Their concerns could best be described as a fear of the unknown. Steven Ochoa, director of voting rights and policy research for the William C. VelÃ¡squez Institute of Los Angeles, said after 2001, “We were mad as hell and we tried not to take it anymore.” He insisted “we are not anti-reform” but “the devil is in the details.”
One of their concerns, paradoxically enough, is that the commission might not have the expertise to understand the myriad complexities of redistricting. It’s a fair point. But just remember where the Legislature went for “expertise” in 2001: To the brother of a congressman who had a vested interest in diffusing the Latino vote.
You can find previous Rose Report coverage on minority advocacy organizations’ opinions of Proposition 11 here.