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State Journal: California squabbling

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State Treasurer Kathleen Brown of California and Del Weber, the president of the California Teachers Association, have been waging an unusual shouting match in the local media.

A casual observer might assume the two would be allies, as Ms. Brown is expected to be a leading Democratic candidate in next year's gubernatorial election, and Mr. Weber's union generally supports Democrats.

But Ms. Brown recently outlined an education-reform platform in a speech that was critical of the state of California's schools.

Party officials turned up the fire with news conferences attacking the education record of the Republican incumbent, Pete Wilson, in which they compared the state unfavorably with traditionally low-achieving Deep South states.

That didn't sit well with Mr. Weber. In a memo to other union officials, he said he had found Ms. Brown's comments "repulsive, invidious, repugnant, despicable, ugly, revolting, base, gross, invidious, obnoxious, and abhorrent.''

The public squabble erupted when the memo was leaked to the local media by Governor Wilson's office.

Ms. Brown's campaign then released a letter in which she charged Mr. Weber--who, unlike most teachers' union officials, is a Republican--with a "transparent attempt to bolster your ally in the Governor's office.''

"If people like you in leadership roles in education lapse into a state of angry denial and block real efforts to reform the system, it will be a tragic and possibly irreparable mistake,'' she wrote.

In a four-page response to her response, Mr. Weber said he and Mr. Wilson are not exactly friends. Indeed, the C.T.A. has often waged battles with the Governor.

"Until all of this started, I would have predicted that the C.T.A. was well on the way toward eventually endorsing your candidacy,'' Mr. Weber wrote.

He also said her campaign had recruited individual C.T.A. members to appear at her news conference on education reform after the union declined to participate.

"If I wanted to receive this kind of treatment, I'd go to more Republican Party meetings where I have already received a lot of experience at being on the end of the club being wielded in school bashing, teacher bashing, and association bashing,'' he said. "I honestly expected better from you.''--JULIE A. MILLER

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