Debra J. Saunders

 No surprise, the bilingual-istas sued, and the Legislature passed a bill that overrode the Board of Education's decision; with the recall looming, Davis signed it. The Legislature succeeded in undermining voters, and still, that's not enough: Escutia wants to make Hastings pay.

 As Hastings told me Monday, "Ultimately, the bilingual lobby is trying to make an example out of me. If they're successful, then they'll have a near veto of appointees."

 If the rump rules, the Legislature will be able to block citizens who, like the majority of California voters, support English instruction.

 Republicans also may play a role in this shameful political thuggery. The pro-Proposition 13 Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association has targeted Hastings because he helped bankroll Proposition 39, the 2000 ballot measure that lowered the threshold to pass school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent of the vote. Jon Coupal of Jarvis noted, "The guy, I guess, is very sincere about education reform, and he pushes English-only, but he jammed us on Prop. 39."

 It's not clear if the two Republicans on Rules -- Roy Ashburn and Jim Battin -- will toe the Jarvis line. Ashburn told me, "I never announce my vote before anything occurs. That's why we have hearings." Battin didn't call back.

 State schools chief Jack O'Connell believes that Democrats should support Hastings because of his overall record and his support of Prop. 39. "He was such a hero to school construction," O'Connell told me. "We would have never been successful or reduced the (bond) threshold without Reed Hastings."

 As for Republicans, well, they are hardly in a position to reject a board member for supporting Prop. 39 -- considering that voters approved it. Especially since they'll be the first ones to demand that the Dems respect the voters' will on Prop. 227.

 I opposed Prop. 39. The state was running a big surplus -- remember surpluses? -- and I didn't want to make it easier for local governments to tax homeowners. But it's important to look at a man's entire record, and Hastings' record is too impressive to ignore because of one philosophical departure. If the Rules Committee gives Hastings the boot, it will be a victory for those who put ideological purity over performance.

 Now you see what happens when lawmakers have no fear of voters. Every Assembly member and senator running won re-election in 2004. So, barely a year after the 2003 recall, lawmakers have decided they can do whatever they want. And they don't care about what voters want. They don't care about what's best for California kids. Like Perata, they see a man who has done good things for California, but they'll bury him anyway.

Debra J. Saunders

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