Veto Payback

State Legislature's Latino Caucus refuse to endorse Gov. Gray Davis' reelection bid

By Gil Contreras
Published on LatinoLA: October 10, 2002

Veto Payback

As Election Day in California approaches, so-called Latino leaders show just how out of touch they and the California Democratic Party are on issues most Californian?s, Latino and non-Latino, care about, and how the inconsistencies, double talk and pandering to the states illegal population (who do not vote on Election Day) are causing more and more Hispanic?s (Latino?s, or whatever the politically correct term is these days) to turn to the Republican and Libertarian parties as being much more in-step with traditional Latino values and conservative positions on issues such as crime and immigration.

On October 4, 2002, the State Legislature?s Democratic Latino caucus took the interesting, yet contradictory, position of opting not to endorse their party?s candidate for governor, Gov. Gray Davis. According to the Los Angeles Time (10/5/02), state senator?s and assembly person?s circulated a letter informing Davis that they were ?unable? to endorse him because his veto of SB 804 and AB 60, legislation that would have allowed some illegal immigrants (not just Latino) the right to obtain a California driver?s license.

Chairman of the Latino caucus, Senator Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), stated in the letter that the governor?s vetoes, ?contradict our Democratic core value of inclusion.? This, of course, is the same Latino leader who, along with Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, former Representative Esteban Torres, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and former Los Angeles mayoral candidates Xavier Becerra and Antonio Villaraigosa, wrote letters and made phone calls to then-president Bill Clinton on behalf of convicted drug trafficker Carlos Vignali, whose father is a major contributor to the Democratic Party in California, seeking a presidential pardon for Vignali.

And now ?Latino leaders? are not endorsing Davis because he vetoed legislation that would have allowed lawbreakers to obtain one of the most important pieces of identification one can have in the country, a California driver?s license (CDL)? As anyone in Los Angeles already knows, CDL?s and SSN cards can be purchased in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles for about $75.00, which I have personally seen and could not tell the difference between my own state issued CDL and the fraudulent one.

And, while the position of the Latino caucus on CDL?s for illegal immigrants is interesting, I would like to know what their position is on enforcement of those mostly illegal immigrants who are making the fraudulent ID?s with a computer and laser printer, and openly selling them at 8th and Alvarado!

I suppose Polanco could argue that those dollars now going to Pico-Union counterfeiter?s could go into the state?s general fund, although if the INS just did their job, this wouldn?t even be an issue worth writing about, because no one would ever propose legislation that would allow any criminal to be rewarded with the same privileges as those of hard working non-criminals (no matter their race), as most citizens hope to deter criminality by writing new and enforcing existing laws.

However, not so, apparently, in the California Democratic Party?s Latino caucus!

Senator Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) told the Times that she was not going to ?lift a finger for the governor [campaign],? indicating that her volunteers would not be going door to door asking voters to cast their's for Davis. The bill?s author, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo told the Times, ?I?m not going to vote for Gov. Davis, I can?t. He gave me his word that he would get this done, and it didn?t happen. I can?t reward that.? And even though the bill was endorsed by Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer and Sheriff Lee Baca, once the criminal background check and tax ID number requirement were added to the measures, they made little sense.

In post 9/11 America, enemies of the state have shown that they have, and will continue to, take advantage of the lax position this country takes with regard to immigration both legal and illegal. The lax issuance of student and tourist visas, granting of political asylum and amnesty, and the lack of enforcement of illegal immigration violators has not gone unnoticed by Al Qeada. The fact that at least seven of the September 11th hijackers used illegal Latino day laborers to obtain fraudulent driver?s licenses and other state picture IDs in Virginia cannot be ignored. Hani Hanjour, KhalidAlmihdhar, Majed Moqed, Salem Alhazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Abdulaziz Alomari and Ahmed Saleh Alghamdi should never have been able to obtain fraudulent identification in Virginia 1, and certainly, should not qualify to obtain a California?s driver?s license!

While Gov. Gray Davis may have his faults, like pandering himself to the California Correctional Officers Union, he did at least, see the danger in this legislation, and appropriately vetoed it. Davis said that September 11th, ?made it abundantly clear that the driver?s license is more than just a license to drive.?

For so-called Latino leaders to make statements such as, Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) who said she intends to tell her constituents to vote for the Democratic ticket, but supports the Latino caucus? decision in not endorsing the ticket (Davis) is absurd. It is this kind of political double talk that has many Latino?s who were children when President Kennedy was assassinated and being raised as Democrats, to begin searching other political parties looking for some common sense.

Latino, Hispanic, etc., leaders should remember that just because roughly 40% of the state's population is Hispanic, only 60% can vote, and of that 60%, mostly educated and more affluent Latino?s will even go to the polls (U.S. Census Bureau). Voters who are not illegal immigrants, and do care about the safety and welfare of our country and our children, and do go to the polls on Election Day, won?t be withholding a vote (or encouraging others not to!) because a piece of legislation that only made sense to them and their political panderers and cronies got vetoed.

(c) 2002 All Rights Reserved

About Gil Contreras:
Gil Contreras is an award winning journalist and freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Email:

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