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Prop 107: Be aware. Be very aware

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The battle over discrimination in Arizona is back, and so is the influence of the californiano Ward Connerly, AKA the anti-affirmative action czar.

Among the ballot initiatives in the Nov. 2 general election is Prop 107. The official title is the “Arizona Civil Rights Initiative.” Prop 107 would amend the state Constitution to prohibit preferential treatment in public contracts, public employment and public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Connerly, who happens to be black, has spent megabucks on pushing anti-affirmative action legislation across the country, including our state, back in 2008. He failed.

But this time around the state’s Republican legislators saved Connerly mucho dinero. Prop 107 took a back-door entry onto the ballot. Rep. Steve Montenegro, a Republican legislator from Litchfield Park, and his mentor Sen. Russell Pearce spearheaded the legislation in their respective chambers.

In a move that bypasses the signature-gathering process needed for most ballot referendums, the Legislature took advantage of a state law that permits that body politic to send propositions to the November general election ballot by a majority vote of lawmakers. No Democrat voted for the bill.

Among opponents of Prop 107 are Protect Arizona’s Freedom (PAF), a coalition of  Arizona business, community, faith, and education leaders concerned about the negative impact the proposition could have on our state.

Member organizations include the American Association of University Women—Arizona Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board, Arizona Advocacy Network, Arizona Anti-Defamation League, Arizona Education Association, Arizona League of Women Voters, Arizona Minority Bar Association, Arizona NAACP, Arizona National Organization for Women, Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, LIUNA – Laborers International Union of North America, and Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Daniel R. Ortega Jr. are among the coalition’s honorary co-chairs.

PAF cites the fact that women continue to earn less than men for the same job; the disparity is even worse for women of color, and why Prop 107 matters and why voters should oppose it. “We’re all in this together. Equal opportunity gives communities a hand up, not a hand out,” states the coalition’s website (http://protectarizonafreedom.com).

Get educated. Read the text of Prop 107. Here’s a portion of it from the Secretary of State’s website:
House Concurrent Resolution 2019

1. Article II, Constitution of Arizona, is proposed to be amended by adding section 36 as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:

36. Preferential treatment or discrimination prohibited; exceptions: definition

Section 36. A. This state shall not grant preferential treatment to or discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.

B. This section does not:

1. Prohibit bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.

2. Prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal monies to this state.

3. Invalidate any court order or consent decree that is in force as of the effective date of this section.

C. The remedies available for a violation of this section are the same, regardless of the injured party’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for a violation of the existing antidiscrimination laws of this state.

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