No New News on “English” in Colorado or California

A story in today’s Denver Rocky Mountain News trumpeted the startling fact that nothing had recently changed in the political dynamics of our forthcoming “English” initiative aimed at Colorado’s November ballot.

More precisely, the story revealed that a third-party Talmey-Drake public opinion commissioned by local media outlets had found statewide support for our initiative running at 68% with opposition at just 24%. These April numbers were virtually unchanged from the previous January poll by the same organizations, which had found our measure ahead by a 68%-26% margin. Several previous statewide Colorado surveys during the past year, conducted both by these media organizations and by others, had also produced virtually identical numbers.

Obviously, maintaining a consistent lead of well over forty percentage points during nearly a full year of media coverage and intense debate surrounding the issue of bilingual education is very heartening. No new news is good news indeed.

Similarly, a story in Saturday’s Orange County Register carried an unsurprising report that Santa Ana School Board Member Nativo Lopez had become the subject of yet another investigation by the local district attorney’s office, potentially even of a criminal nature.

During recent months, Lopez’s determined opposition to “English” has made him the target of an ongoing recall petition drive by the outraged Latino parents of his city. There are now accusations that he has improperly used administrators under his authority and school premises under this control in an attempt to enlist political support for his cause. Particularly disturbing was a report that one of Lopez’s principals had offered extra credit to students who brought their parents to a school meeting at which Lopez denounced his political opponents and distributed flyers on his own behalf.

If these new reports of Lopez’s doubtful activities are correct, they certainly represent a mere continuation of the status quo. In the past, accusations that Lopez strong-armed those doing business with his school district into contributing large sums of money to his political campaigns have generated banner-headlines in the local edition of the Los Angeles Times. The Clinton Administration had previously accused Lopez’s social service organization of failing to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds. California’s own Department of Education is currently suing Lopez to recover millions in misspent public funds.

All these stories are hardly likely to strengthen the odds that Lopez will survive his recall ballot, especially when one considers that his November 2000 reelection campaign outspent his opponents by ratios of around 30-to-1 yet barely eked out a 2% victory.

Here as well, no new news regarding Nativo Lopez and his approach to politics and public funds is very bad news for him but very good news for the Latino parents of Santa Ana.

With any luck, the major media outlets for both Colorado and Orange County will be producing a consistent stream of such major No-New-News stories from now until Election Day.

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