Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ward Connerly watch: Ward Connerly's anti-Affirmative Action initiative will be back on the ballot in Arizona

Well it appears our old friend Ward Connerly is at it again. Connerly's effort to outlaw affirmative action programs and any special programs or preferences for women and minorities will be back on the ballot in Arizona next year.

On a 17-11 vote the Arizona State Senate gave final approval to a proposed constitutional amendment which purports to prohibit preferential treatment or discrimination by government on the basis of race, sex or ethnic origin. The measure, which already has been approved by the House, will now be placed on the 2010 ballot.

A similar initiative drive in 2008 failed when backers failed to gather enough signatures.

Federal courts have long-since outlawed numerical quotas that spell out that a certain percentage of school admissions, jobs or contracts must go to minorities or women. But judges have upheld various "affirmative action' programs designed to help those whose groups have been underrepresented. And the courts also have allowed certain bid preferences if the government can show that minority or women are not getting a share of contracts.

But Ward Connerly hopes to end all that. His deceptively simple language would formally prohibit any outreach efforts to women and minority owned businesses. It would also prohibit informational forums, such as "how to do business with the City" type forums if they were at all targeted towards providing information to under-represented groups. In short, it would prohibit any official efforts to address under-representation or disproportionalities in public employment, contracting, or education.

So if 99.3% of City contracting dollars were spent with firms headed by white males (as once was the case here in Wichita) that would be fair in the eyes of Connerly. But if that same City were to host informational forums designed to encourage more Women and Minority owned firms to bid on City contracts, that would be an offense to Connerly's sense of justice, hence the need for his tireless efforts to protect the strong and connected from the tyranny of the weak or disadvantaged.

Connerly talks mo' shit than a little bit about fairness and the elimination of preferences and unfair advantage, but make no mistake, Connerly is no 'King'... Ward Connerly is the President and CEO of Connerly & Associates, a California based lobbying firm. Connerly & Associates clients have included the Roofing Contractors Association of California, California Building Officials, the California Vendors Policy Committee, the Roofing Contractors Association of Southern California, and the Associated Roofing Contractors of Northern California. C&A also originates home repair loans, does housing rehabilitation consulting and administers community development block grants.

His efforts are funded by individuals such as:

John Moores: a San Diego-based software millionaire, developer and owner of the San Diego Padres, and chairman of JMI Realty. Moores contributed $400,000 to Connerly’s losing 2003 Prop 54 campaign in California, the so-called Racial Privacy Initiative, which sought to forbid the state from collecting statistics on race and gender. Moores worked with Connerly on the University of California board of trustees, and was censured by the board for releasing his own study criticizing UC admissions policies as favoring minorities. He resigned in November 2007.

Harlan Crow: Considered by Connerly “one of the most important” of his “major allies.” Crow, son of Dallas real estate tycoon Trammell Crow, owns Crow Realty Investors and is president of Crow Holdings, a real estate company.

Thomas L. Rhodes: Co-founder and director of Connerly’s organizations, who along with Zamrzla played a key role in Connerly’s decision to launch the “Super Tuesday” campaign. Rhodes has been vice chairman since 1998 (and a board member since 1996), of the Clearwater, Florida-based American Land Lease, which is engaged in the ownership, development and financing of residential land lease communities. Rhodes sits on the board of directors of the Bradley Foundation, which has contributed millions of dollars to Connerly’s ACRI.

John Uhlmann: Chairman of the Kansas City-based Jabez Territories LLC, which provides construction, general contracting and development services, and is another major backer of Connerly’s initiatives.

John Zamrzla: President and chief executive officer of the Western Pacific Roofing Corporation and a former president of the Chicago-based National Roofing Contractors Association. Zamrzla serves as Connerly’s American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) board chair. He has also been identified by Connerly as one of “the directors of the American Civil Rights Coalition.”

To be clear, Ward Connerly is no friend of Civil Rights, level playing fields, or fundamental fairness. He is simply a professional lobbyist, funded by Contractors, Developers, and Real Estate Executives, ALL of whom stand to benefit if Connerly can eliminate the competition by re-writing state constitutions and rolling back civil rights programs that help level the playing field for qualified minorities and women.

It is particularly telling that Connerly who publicly affects a moral opposition to preferences, never actually seeks to eliminate all preferences... His efforts in education have never addressed legacy preferences, specific geographic preferences, or preferences awarded to the alumnus of certain pre-determined 'Top" schools, all of which overwhelmingly accrue to the majority. All of which have escaped his scrutiny and his outrage in each and every campaign he's launched.

While he purports to be a man opposed to discrimination in contracting and employment, it is also peculiar that neither Connerly nor his "Civil Right$" institute have ever offered a bill, policy, or proposition to address the underlying institutional discrimination and/or disproportionalities that affirmative action plans were intended to counteract.

While appropriating the language and cloaking his agenda under the mantle of Civil Rights, Ward Connerly is merely continuing his antithetical, multi-state, highly funded, deceptive and disingenuous defense of the status-quo.

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