California Healthline Rounds Up Recent Proposition 54 Coverage
California Healthline today rounds up recent media coverage of Proposition 54, which will appear on the Oct. 7 recall ballot. Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/12). Summaries appear below.
- The Washington Post today looks at the debate over Proposition 54, which "has been overshadowed" by the Oct. 7 recall vote for Gov. Gray Davis (D) but "has galvanized opposition" in recent weeks from a "broad spectrum" of medical, public health, civil rights, law enforcement and environmental organizations. Currently, the only major gubernatorial candidate in the recall who supports the initiative is Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Ventura County), according to the Post (Nieves, Washington Post, 9/13).
- The AP/Fresno Bee yesterday examined the feasibility of Proposition 54's promise to "revolutionize" the way the state treats race. While the initiative reads that "the state shall not classify any individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin," that purpose has been "eroded by a series of loopholes," analysts told the AP/Bee. The ballot measure's "many gaps and ambiguities would likely take years of legal and legislative wrangling to solve" if the initiative is approved because it is written "to appeal more to ideology than the exacting idiom of a state constitutional amendment," the AP/Bee reports (Pritchard, AP/Fresno Bee, 9/14).
- The Chicago Tribune yesterday looked at the composition of Proposition 54's groups of supporters and opponents. The ballot measure's supporters "consist mostly of people but no large organizations," while opponents belonging to the Coalition for an Informed California include nearly 500 individuals, elected officials and organizations, such as the California Medical Association, the California Federation of Teachers and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, according to the Tribune. Support for the initiative "has been evaporating," and many Republicans who are trying to "repair their image among some as racially insensitive" after supporting a 1996 measure opposing affirmative action "have been absent from the campaign," the Tribune reports (Haynes, Chicago Tribune, 9/14).
- Gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) pledged last week to shift $3.8 million in controversial campaign contributions from his campaign to the campaign to oppose Proposition 54, but "it appears that Bustamante's campaign handlers -- not any existing 'No on 54' organizations -- are going to have full control of the funds," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Both Bustamante's gubernatorial campaign and his committee formed to fight Proposition 54 share the same phone number and address, which are identical to the address of Bustamante's campaign manager, Richie Ross (Matier/Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/14).
- NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show" on Friday interviewed Davis about several issues related to the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, including Proposition 54 (Smiley, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 9/12). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Summaries of recent editorials addressing Proposition 54 are provided below.
- While Proposition 54 calls for a "race-blind world," which "might be a good thing" in an ideal world, California is not a "colorblind utopia," a Los Angeles Times editorial states. "As imperfect as the system to collect data on color, race, ethnicity, gender and national origin is, Californians extract more benefits from having it than they would gain from abolishing it in ham-handed fashion," the editorial states, adding that voters should vote against the measure because it would "undermine equal education, public health and civil rights protections" (Los Angeles Times, 9/15).
- Proposition 54, which argues that "racial differences no longer matter in California," is a "premature, rose-colored" initiative that "denies reality," a Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial states (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/14).
Additional Proposition 54 coverage is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.