Unz, Brown Air New Ads

In a new radio ad that began airing last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz suggests that qualified applicants to California's public universities are being turned away because of quota programs.

* THE AD: A male voice says: "We're concerned parents. Our son had excellent grades in high school." A female voice continues: "But he was turned away by the state university. Why?" A third voice--Unz's--offers this answer: "The reason is affirmative action. These quota programs reward people based on race or ethnicity, instead of merit. . . . Past racial discrimination was wrong, but two wrongs don't make a right." Unz then promises to "completely abolish" affirmative action, bilingual education and multiculturalism programs.

* THE ANALYSIS: The ad is built upon a false premise, according to university officials. The University of California and California State University systems never reject qualified students. Students in the top eighth of the state's high school graduates are guaranteed spots at a UC campus, while those in the top third may attend CSU. Not everyone gets to enroll in the campus of their choice, but no one is "turned away."

Moreover, neither UC nor CSU has a quota program. To ensure that the student body reflects the diversity of the state, disadvantaged students are considered on a case by case basis for "special admission" in both systems. Race and ethnicity are among several factors that are considered during this process, including merit. But students admitted under this system do not take seats away from other deserving students.

"As long as you meet the basic requirements, there's a place for you in the UC system," said Tom Debley, a UC spokesman.

Steve McCarthy, a CSU spokesman, concurred: "There has never been anyone qualified who was denied."

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Gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Brown has been airing a new ad that trumpets her record as state treasurer since 1991.

* THE AD: The commercial opens with black-and-white footage of unemployed workers and then shifts to a photo of Gov. Pete Wilson.

"The Wilson recession--550,000 jobs lost. More than any other state," an announcer says.

Then Brown appears on the screen to say that, as state treasurer, she has managed America's largest investment fund and earned $4 billion for taxpayers.

"With tough fiscal management," Brown says, "I've kept California solvent through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

* ANALYSIS: As in Brown's earlier commercials, this ad tends to exaggerate both Wilson's role in creating the recession and Brown's role in helping state government survive it.

California's economy peaked in the spring of 1990 and began its downturn well before Wilson took office. The state has lost at least 550,000 private sector jobs since then. Most economists believe these job losses stemmed more from the weak national economy and from defense cutbacks than from anything Wilson did.

Some economists say the tax increase Wilson supported in 1991 exacerbated the state's problems, but Brown does not level that charge. Instead, her rap against Wilson is more guilt by association: He is the chief executive, therefore he is responsible.

Brown's claims about her role in keeping the state solvent are factually correct, but probably overstate her importance. Her job as treasurer is largely to carry out actions begun by the Legislature or the voters. She has borrowed money by selling bonds and notes to private investors and banks to tide the state over until there was sufficient cash in the treasury to pay the bills.

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