PROPOSITION 187: Davis’ Middle-Road Approach Angers Both Sides
Gov. Gray Davis' announcement yesterday that he was taking the Proposition 187 case to a federal mediator "left neither side satisfied," Capitol Alert reports. Davis said he chose the course of action to "respect the will of the electorate and put divisive issue behind us," adding that he would veto it if it were legislation but because it's an initiative passed by nearly 60% of the voters he was bound by duty to enforce the measure. Of the mediation plan, Davis said, "It is my belief that this well-established procedure, which settled 600 cases last year alone, will resolve the dispute over Proposition 187 entirely without a lengthy court battle." But supporters of the measure saw Davis move as "a stalling tactic," while opponents said the governor went back on his campaign promise to end "wedge-issue politics" (Chance/Capps, 4/16).
Get Along Gang
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that both sides "questioned the legality of the unusual maneuver" (Hardy, 4/16). "This is a purely legal issue, and there really isn't much room for give and take," said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney John Findlay, who said he had "never heard of a constitutional issue being mandated." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, however, that Davis said he would "knock heads" if the two sides cannot reach an agreement (Mendel, 4/16). Davis aides disagreed, saying compromise was possible, the New York Times reports. For example, "the plaintiffs could agree to accept provisions of Proposition 187 imposing criminal penalties for the manufacture, sale and use of false documents" and the defendants could agree to abide by a Texas ruling that barred withholding educational benefits from illegal immigrants (Purdum, 4/16).
Cheers and Jeers
In a different take than most dailies, the Washington Times reports that the compromise "virtually ensures" that the initiative curbing health and educational benefits to illegal immigrants "will never become law" (Elias, 4/16).
A Sacramento Bee editorial "cheers" Davis' decision, saying it "nicely balances his two competing duties: to represent the will of the people ... and to put the anti- immigration mood of the early 1990s squarely behind us." The editorial concludes: "In this case, Davis' choice of the middle ground is an act of statesmanship" (4/16).
Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters is not so kind, calling the decision "a devilishly clever way of postponing a real decision for months, perhaps years and maybe forever" (4/16).