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State Journal: Claiming vindication; Stuck in park

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The California Teachers Association and school-choice backers are still sparring over last year's petition drive to get a voucher initiative on the state ballot.

Led by a group called EXCEL, choice advocates last year collected enough petition signatures to get the school-voucher plan on the November ballot. But state officials later ruled the initiative off the ballot, delaying a statewide vote until June 1994, after finding an excessive number of duplicative or otherwise invalid signatures on the petitions.

In the wake of the setback, choice advocates, including the editorial writers of The Wall Street Journal, accused the C.T.A. of using "dirty tricks'' to sabotage the campaign. They alleged that teachers'-union members had purposely added improper names to the petitions in order to drive up the rate of invalid signatures.

Claiming "vindication,'' the union recently took out an ad in the Journal to highlight a report by the San Diego district attorney that found no evidence that any ãŸôŸáŸ members had signed more than once.

The ad also said the report had found that at least half of those signing more than once were homeless people.

The ad suggested that homeless signers were moved by the petition drive's offer of $1 per signature. "The only way EXCEL could get the signatures it needed was to buy them,'' the union charged.

"We will now accept apologies--from EXCEL, the Journal, or both,'' the ad concluded.

Such regrets were hardly forthcoming from EXCEL, however, which quickly issued a statement faulting the district attorney's probe of the matter.

"Without investigating all major leads, the people of California will never know the truth in this case,'' said the group's campaign director, Kevin D. Teasley.

William F. Weld, the Republican Governor of Massachusetts who is up for re-election next year, recently directed some fire at the educational policies of one of his potential Democratic challengers, Mayor Raymond Flynn of Boston.

Mr. Weld in 1991 signed a bill, sought by Mr. Flynn, to give the Boston mayor authority to appoint members of the city school committee.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, however, Mr. Weld charged that Mayor Flynn had done little to improve the Boston schools, which the Governor said remained "stuck in park.''

"I haven't seen the kind of change I anticipated when the Mayor got control of the committee,'' he said.--H.D.

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