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Martha Montelongo - Contributor
Martha Montelongo is a political commentator and radio talk show host on KION in Monterey, Calif. [Montelongo website] [Montelongo index]

A Latino Perspective
Props. 74-77 Offer Personal Empowerment
[Martha Montelongo] 11/8/05

This November 8th, the fortunes of California's Latinos are with the Governor's economic reform initiatives, Props. 74, 75, 76 and 77. Above all, Prop. 77 promises to have the most profound impact on the political landscape of California.

Unfortunately, several Latino leaders, including Los Angeles' new high profile Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez have been highly visible and outspoken against the reform initiatives that would, in fact, serve the emerging Latino middle class both by helping to keep taxes down, and not burdening entrepreneurs and small business owners. The Latino lower class community benefits from a healthy economic climate with job growth and higher wages which result from lower unemployment, and from an improved gateway to upward mobility via entrepreneurship, and a more competitive, efficient and effective education system.

Villaraigosa's and Nuñez's opposition to Proposition 77 reveals, in particular, their opposition to public policy that empowers each individual Latino, and illustrates how willing they are to barter away the empowerment of Latinos in exchange for their own political gain. In 2001, the LA Times reported, "Democrats had the luck of the draw in redistricting, and secure in their dominance, they cooperated with the GOP leadership in an effort to maintain the status quo, with an eye toward surviving term limits."

A recent report published by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government based at Claremont McKenna College looked at the significant contribution Prop. 77 would make in promoting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which guarantees minorities election opportunities for "protected classes," and which was violated during the gerrymander redistricting of 2001.

The Rose Institute report states that "the 2001 gerrymander (of California) controversially divided Latino communities, in particular in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and in San Diego. This questionable division of Latino communities is unlikely to be repeated by the retired judges proposed in Proposition 77 primarily because of two compelling arguments: first, in the past the retired judges put primary emphasis on compliance with the Voting Rights Act; and second, retired judges lack the personal ambition and self-interest that drove the incumbents in 2001 to intentionally divide up Latino communities."

Prop. 77 would increase the number of minority-Latino voting age population (VAP) congressional districts by at least two -- one district in San Fernando and the other in San Diego -- and would also make all districts more compact and more competitive. Whole communities, cities, towns and whereever possible, counties, would have to be left intact instead of being carved up to protect incumbents or a political party's held seat.

If Latinos vote their individual interests this election, they will vote yes for personal empowerment- and that means voting yes to Props. 74 through 77. CRO

copyright 2003 - Martha Montelongo






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