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November 9, 1999 - An Historic Moment?
Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush
Ends Racial Quotas?

Adversity.Net Special Report

Florida Initiative to Restore Race-Neutral Policies!

          On Tuesday, November 9, 1999, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced an alleged end to racial quotas and preferences in the State of Florida!  Details of Gov.   Bush's plan are sketchy, and it is becoming clear that he really will not be able to end Florida's use of racial and gender quotas.  There are serious doubts about whether Bush really ever intended to end racial and gender quotas; it appears Jeb Bush really only wanted to gain political points among Americans who oppose quotas.

          Ward Connerly recently insisted that he will continue his fight to get the Florida Civil Rights Initiative (FCRI) on the ballot -- in spite of Jeb Bush's weak "One Florida" plan.  Connerly indicates he has well-justified reservations about the sincerity and effectiveness of Gov. Jeb Bush's "One Florida" in ending racial quotas and preferences in Florida.

Presidential Ballot Insanity in Florida!
Are the Democrats bashing George W. because Jeb eliminated quotas?  See: Florida Cartoons and Links

See Also: Liberal Florida Supreme Court

***See Especially:  U.S. Civil Rights Commission attacks racial equality!  Commission launches nationwide attack on race-blind justice.  (Posted 4/13/00)

Press Release



"An Innovative Plan to Increase Opportunity and Diversity while Ending Racial Preferences and Set-Asides in State Contracting and University Admissions"

TALLAHASSEE - -Providing strong leadership to unite all Floridians behind a plan of opportunity, diversity and fairness, Governor Jeb Bush today announced his One Florida Initiative.

          "With my One Florida Initiative, we can increase opportunity and diversity in the state's universities and in state contracting without using policies that discriminate or that pit one racial group against another," Governor Bush said. "Behind a common vision that unites us, we can ensure that the promise of Florida's future will be shared by all of Florida's residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, neighborhood, or background."

The education component of the One Florida Initiative includes the following elements:

* Eliminate race and ethnicity as a factor in university admissions.

* The "Talented 20" Program will guarantee state university admission to the top 20 percent of students in every Florida high school senior class. Even with the elimination of race and ethnicity as a factor in admissions, the "Talented 20" Program will result in a net increase in minority enrollment in the state university system.

* An increase in need-based financial aid by 43 percent, a $20 million increase.

* Proposed funding to make the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test available to all Florida tenth-graders so that Florida's eleventh-graders will be better prepared to take the Scholastic Achievement Test.

* Increased availability of Advanced Placement courses in low performing schools.

* A new partnership with the College Board to improve college preparation for students at low performing high schools.

* The creation of the Equity in Educational Opportunity Task Force to make recommendations on eliminating inequities in our K-12 educational system. Sen. Daryl Jones, of Miami, will serve as the Chairman of the Task Force.

The state-contracting component of Governor Bush's One Florida Initiative includes the following:

* The elimination of racial set-asides and racial price preferences. The time has come to eliminate these legally suspect practices that never fully achieved their goals. These programs are constitutionally suspect and account for a miniscule amount of money for minority businesses each year.

* Reform of the procurement process to encourage the pursuit of diversity by making the state's procurement agents more accountable for their purchasing decisions. Procurement officers will report directly to the Governor and their positions will be reclassified from career service to select exempt status.

* Reduction of the red tape in the minority certification process to encourage more minority businesses to become certified.

* Enhancement of minority business development through financial and technical assistance programs that target the legitimate development needs of emerging minority businesses, minority construction firms and minority franchisees.

          "My initiative ends racial preferences, racial set-asides and race-based university admissions, not affirmative action properly understood," Governor Bush said. "The One Florida Initiative transcends traditional notions of affirmative action and increases opportunities for Floridians of all racial backgrounds in ways that unite us, not divide us."

          Joining Governor Bush for today's announcement were the Chancellor of the State University System Adam Herbert, Speaker of the House John Thrasher, College Board President Gaston Caperton and D.J. Miller, president of D.J. Miller and Associates, the state's professional consultants.

          Governor Bush also signed an agreement and two executive orders with Caperton. The agreement with the College Board will assist in identifying, motivating and better preparing students in low performing schools. Executive Order 99-281 reaffirms the Bush/Brogan administration's commitment to non-discrimination in state hiring, contracting, education, and directed the Governor's agency heads not to use optional race and gender set-asides and preferences in their agencies.

          Executive Order 99-280 creates the Equity in Educational Opportunity Task Force.

          "I firmly believe that with the One Florida Initiative, we can prevent our state from being divided along racial lines," Governor Bush said. "It is my hope that the One Florida Initiative can replace conflict with consensus in providing opportunity with diversity and fairness in our state."

          For more information on Governor Bush's One Florida Initiative, visit the Governor's Website at

News Coverage of Bush's Announcement

[This Associated Press story was carried by both the Washington Post and by FoxNews.  Both the Post and Fox started their stories with very misleading and inaccurate headlines:  "Fla. Governor Bans Affirmative Action".  What Gov. Bush announced was an end of racial quotas, preferences and set-asides, not an end of affirmative action.  Furthermore, this historic news story was buried by the Washington Post on page 30.  Editor]

Associated Press Story (as it appeared in the Washington Post 11/10/99)

Headline:  Fla. Governor Bans Affirmative Action (Wash Post link dead)
Subhead:  Order Ends Racial Preferences in Admissions, Contracts

Same Associated Press Story (as it appeared in FoxNews 11/09/99)

Headline:  Florida governor bans affirmative action, says he has found another way (FoxNews link dead)

Abstract (same for both stories):

          "TALLAHASSEE, Nov. 9—Gov. Jeb Bush (R) signed an executive order today wiping out race and ethnicity as factors in Florida university admissions and barring racial set-asides and quotas in state contracting decisions.

          "Bush's plan guarantees state university admission to the top 20 percent of the state's high school seniors, adds $20 million to the state's financial aid budget and makes it easier for minority businesses to be certified to work across the state. Some of the proposals must be approved by the Legislature.

          "We can increase opportunity and diversity in the state's universities and in state contracting without using policies that discriminate or that pit one racial group against another," Bush said at a news conference.

          "Bush's actions come as California businessman Ward Connerly pushes a petition drive to eliminate the state's affirmative action programs. ... Connerly spokesman Kevin Nguyen said the group will review Bush's plan before deciding whether to call off the petition drive. "The governor deserves high marks for his efforts to provide outreach programs to allow kids to compete on their own individual merit," Nguyen said.  (Associated Press via Washington Post 11/10/99, Page A30)
[former link **]
[former link **]

Bush details anti-bias plan (11/09/99)
          "Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday announced sweeping changes to state affirmative action policies, vowing to end race-based preference programs while launching ambitious outreach efforts to increase minority participation at universities and in state contracting. A year before Florida voters could face a ballot question asking them to eliminate preferences, the popular Republican governor moved to establish a middle ground that would banish preferences but encourage what he called "race consciousness."

          "This is not the end of affirmative action," Bush said. "This transcends affirmative action." With a giant backdrop behind him illuminating a silhouette of a state map filled with multicolored faces and the words "One Florida Initiative," Bush said embracing diversity is crucial to the state's economic future. On higher education, he wants to guarantee university admissions to the top 20 percent of every high school class in Florida. In contracting, he wants to urge state procurement officers to find qualified minority businesses. He signed an executive order that bans preferences and discrimination but promotes diversity in all agencies under the governor's control. He proposed other changes through legislation, agency restructuring and gumption.

          "…Bush insisted that his wide-ranging proposal was not meant to blunt plans by California businessman Ward Connerly to place an initiative banning affirmative action on next year's ballot. But it already seemed to have an effect by Tuesday evening: Connerly's spokesman offered mild praise. Kevin Nguyen said Bush deserved "high marks" for encouraging "individual merit" in his educational programs. "We note that the governor and his staff came to the same conclusion that race preferences are unconstitutional. We credit the governor for taking the state of Florida significantly toward a more colorblind society." Bush has called Connerly's proposal divisive, but he also said Tuesday that the state's existing preference policies are "constitutionally suspect" and that they have failed to create equal opportunity. He cited court rejections of the policies in some cases along with "minuscule" numbers of minority businesses that shared in the $12.6-billion the state spent on procurement last year. The governor said educational and economic success for minorities lies not in government-mandated preferences but in early intervention. …His "Talented 20 program" -- similar to a plan his brother, George W. Bush, helped launch as governor of Texas -- could give 1,200 additional minority students the chance to attend a state university.

          "University system Chancellor Adam Herbert praised the plan, saying it "acknowledges Florida's past but also connects us to Florida's future." If minority students go on to become business owners, Bush said they will find a Florida government that seeks out their services rather than overlooks them. …But the governor stopped short of the comprehensive changes sought by Connerly in his proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that would end race- and gender-based preferences in all government contracting, hiring and state university admissions. Connerly's amendments await approval by the Florida Supreme Court while his campaign plans to collect the more than 435,000 signatures necessary to place the issue on the ballot. As Bush sought common ground in the emerging affirmative action debate -- and some say tried to groom Florida's political terrain for his brother's presidential campaign next year -- activists on both sides said they would return to their camps and decide how to proceed. Connerly, who spent part of Tuesday raising money in New York for his California-based American Civil Rights Coalition, could not be reached for comment. At the coalition's headquarters, spokesman Nguyen said that the drive was still on, and that Connerly would comment this week.

          "Part of the problem," Nguyen said, "is we weren't consulted throughout the review process." …Leon Russell, president of the state NAACP and leader of a pro-affirmative-action amendment drive, said the governor's plans were cause for cautious optimism. But as long as Connerly is still campaigning, Russell said, so would his group, FREE. "The key issue for us is to come out with a policy that the governor can buy into," Russell said."   (St. Petersburg Times 11/09/99 by William Yardley)
[link ]

Governor calls for eliminating set-aside plans (posted 11/10/99 - dead link)
          "Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday called for an end to two decades of race-based admissions to universities and racial set-asides in state contracts and promised to lead Florida to unprecedented diversity and opportunity -- but without laws mandating it. Bush endorsed state university admission for high school seniors who finish in the top one-fifth of the class, which would reduce the importance of SAT scores that critics say are culturally biased.

          "The plan requires approval by the Board of Regents, which will consider it next week. Bush also issued an executive order prohibiting executive branch agencies under his control from using racial or gender set-asides. In style and substance, Bush's ``One Florida Initiative'' is meant to blunt the momentum of the anti-affirmative action drive of California businessman Ward Connerly, whose Florida Civil Rights Initiative Bush has called ``divisive.'' ``This is a statement of inclusion, not of division,'' Bush said. ``This is a statement that is progressive and thoughtful and forward-thinking and that's where we want to stay.'' The first-year Republican governor is staking his considerable popularity on a lofty notion: a Florida where people are ``sensitized'' to racial equality.

          "Before he went public Tuesday at a long news conference, Bush moved cautiously, spending dozens of hours in talks with black leaders, educators and agency heads in what he called a ``vetting'' of his new policy.

          "…Reaction to Bush's program was strongly favorable. ``It has some great concepts in it. I've seen a lot of good intentions, but what I have not seen is the leadership required to make the difference in implementation. I hope this governor has what it takes to do that,'' said Sen. Daryl Jones, D-South Dade. ``It's impressive, and I think the governor is very sincere.'' Jones, who was among dozens of African-American leaders briefed on the new policy in recent days, was named by Bush to head a new 17-member task force to recommend ways to end inequities between rich and poor public schools in Florida. ``This is not some political scheme. This is something all of us ought to embrace as citizens of this great state,'' said the governor's ally, House Speaker John Thrasher, R-Orange Park.

          "…In Sacramento, Connerly's spokesman gave Bush ``high marks'' for ending race-based state university admissions policies. But Connerly is not yet prepared to end a yearlong campaign for a constitutional amendment to end affirmative action in Florida. ``We wouldn't rule out any options,'' said Connerly's spokesman, Kevin Nguyen. ``We need to assess which preferences still need to be eliminated.'' Although Connerly has struggled to raise money to underwrite his initiative and still must collect nearly 400,000 voter signatures, his crusade has struck a popular chord. A Herald-St. Petersburg Times poll of 600 Floridians shows voters oppose government programs to treat people differently based on their race by more than a 2-1 margin. Bush, who said he has greatly increased the number of blacks and women in the executive branch, hopes to set an example for others to follow." (Miami Herald, posted 11/10/99)
[former link **]

Bush details anti-bias plan (11/09/99)
          "In calling for an end to racial preferences in university admissions, Gov. Jeb Bush aimed most of his message Tuesday at the public's distaste for a system that he said pits "one racial group against another." It's well meaning, he said, but ultimately self-defeating to send unqualified kids off to college only to see them fail. That's why Bush's plan is likely to be felt more in Florida's troubled public schools than in its universities. The reason is as simple as Bush's proposed alternative to race-based admissions: his guarantee that those who graduate in the top 20 percent of their public high school class will get a spot in any of eight Florida universities, regardless of their test scores. Unless the state's K-12 system can produce a pool of top graduates that reflects Florida ethnic diversity, Bush said, the plan won't do a thing to increase opportunity.

          "Preferences in higher education have been used to mask the failure of our low-performing schools," said the governor, who was flanked Tuesday by university system Chancellor Adam Herbert and House Speaker John Thrasher. "The old solutions are not working." Bush's proposal for the public schools involves a hodgepodge of partnerships, challenges and financial incentives. All are designed to assist students at low-performing schools and get them qualified for college. "We can come up with all the programs we want for college admissions, but if they don't have the base to be successful, it's not going to amount to much," said state Education Commissioner Tom Gallagher, whose department would play a major role in implementing Bush's plan.

          "…California voted three years ago to end racial preferences in university admissions, and some analysts say the change has forced initiatives similar to those proposed Tuesday. The University of California-Berkeley, one of the nation's top research schools, started an outreach program to improve poor-performing public schools in neighboring cities. Methods include after-school and in-school tutoring, teacher training and Internet-based curriculum enhancements. "I think Gov. (Bush) has the right focus; you don't solve the higher education problems without looking at K through 12," said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform. "When you have kids entering college and taking remedial courses, you're not solving the problem." (St. Petersburg Times 11/09/99)
[link ]

Bush ends affirmative action (Posted 11/10/99 - dead link)
          "Racial preferences in state contracting and college admissions are being scrapped in Florida. Gov. Jeb Bush, in another attempt to shake up state government and chart a course that challenges tradition, said the decades-old reliance on quotas and set-asides is no longer needed to increase minority participation. Bush on Tuesday [11/09/99] signed an executive order ending all racial preferences immediately in the 15 state agencies directly under his control, such as departments of Transportation and Children and Family Services. He is urging each of the Florida Cabinet agencies, such as education, insurance and agriculture, to follow suit.

          "Bush acknowledged he is sweeping away historic state programs born in the long civil rights struggle, but he promised his plan will achieve even greater diversity. ``I want to emphasize I do not question the previous need for policies that we're moving beyond today,'' Bush said. But, he said: ``The old solutions have become increasingly controversial and divisive."

          "What is viewed as an opportunity for one Floridian is too often correctly viewed as an unfair advantage by another Floridian.'' Rather than quotas and goals, Bush is counting on a voluntary commitment among the state's top executives and purchasing agents. The governor, who successfully courted black and Hispanic voters during his 1998 campaign, said his own commitment to diversity is reflected in his staff and political appointments.

          "Blacks, Asians and Hispanics, for example, make up 30 percent of his senior management team.

          "Called the 'One Florida Initiative', Bush's approach to racial equity will prohibit universities from continuing to consider race when deciding which students to admit into graduate and undergraduate programs. …Others voiced concerns that the 20 percent cutoff could penalize students who, because of poor early schooling or family troubles, show potential late in high school. ``I have no problem with the program as the governor's suggesting it,'' said Samuel Wright, an admissions director at the University of South Florida. ``But I think it probably would exclude students who ... are late bloomers academically.''

          "The contracting component of the governor's plan includes improving the state procurement process and helping develop minority-owned businesses. Bush wants direct control over purchasing agents, with regular reports from them on their progress in increasing the amount of business awarded to companies owned by minorities. The governor said that while he has no intention of imposing target goals, he would reassign any procurement officer who failed to perform. House Speaker John Thrasher, R-Orange Park, pledged his support in getting the Legislature to fund the aspects of Bush's plan that require legislative appropriations, such as increased financial aid."  (Tampa Tribune, posted 11/10/99)
[former link **]

Ward Connerly promises to continue fighting
for the Florida Civil Rights Initiative;

Connerly questions the sincerity
of Jeb Bush's "One Florida" plan

          In this Wall Street Journal article, Ward Connerly exposes the insincerity of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's "One Florida" plan.  Connerly says it is imperative to continue the drive to get the Florida Civil Rights Initiative on the ballot in Florida in 2000.

Why I'm Still Fighting Preferences in Florida (11/18/99 - PAY site)
          Connerly:  "Since January I have been leading a campaign in Florida to qualify an initiative for the November 2000 ballot that, like California's Proposition 209, would end government preferences based on race, sex and ethnicity.

          "Last week Mr. Bush announced his alternative, dubbed the One Florida Initiative, which he declared would bring Floridians together and lead to harmony and unity.  Nice try, but within minutes of Mr. Bush's announcement, several black elected officials announced that the governor was contributing to the "resegregation" of Florida, "turning back the clock on progress," and ignoring "400 years of slavery and Jim Crow laws."

          "In recent days, some of Mr. Bush's allies and several Florida newspapers have suggested that I save face, declare victory and head back to California. I respectfully reject this advice. Here's why I consider it urgent to continue this battle. The issue of race, in one form or another, is a drag on the American spirit. Even as Americans marry and have children across racial and ethnic lines at a rapidly increasing rate, government agencies continue to classify us according to race. Many of our social conflicts have a racial dimension, and it's not just black and white. Those conflicts can be any conceivable configuration -- black/Hispanic, black/Jewish, Latino/Jewish, Armenian/Latino, Korean/black, American black/immigrant black. You name it, we've got it somewhere in the U.S.

          "Politicians [of both parties] are playing the race card, often from the bottom of the deck.

          "The die is cast for the November 2000 campaign. Democrats will demagogue and accuse Republicans of being "mean-spirited" and "antiminority," and Republicans will quiver and quake and utter mindless blather about "diversity" and "inclusion." The day after the election, both parties will return to their stale agendas. And the beat goes on.

          [Affirmative action as constituted in Florida today is] "a regime of policies and programs that has become convoluted, confusing and frequently corrupt.  Mr. Bush's [One Florida] initiative falls short in several areas.

          "For one thing, [Gov. Bush's] executive orders are not set in stone. Just as he is trying to end explicit preferences with a stroke of the pen, Gov. Bush or some future governor could restore them with a stroke of the pen. It was executive orders and judicial decrees that got us into this mess, and they could get us into it again if we the people fail to let our elected representatives know that we don't want them perverting the principle of equality ever again.

          "The governor avoids dealing with preferences by local governments, saying he doesn't want to "micromanage" cities and counties. That leaves about 80% of the preference programs in place. Maybe Mr. Bush can't "micromanage" local government, but the electorate certainly can -- through the ballot box.

          "Floridians support our initiative. A statewide survey earlier this month showed the initiative held more than a two-to-one margin of support among likely voters. Hispanics supported it by 50% to 39%, and among blacks, supporters and opponents were in a statistical dead heat. When asked about "affirmative action," opponents outnumber supporters by more than four to one.

          "Of all the arguments that have been made against the Florida Civil Rights Initiative, the most disingenuous is that it is "divisive." The issue of race should not be off limits for debate in a democracy. Those who support racial preferences should be willing to defend them in healthy debate. And I certainly hope Mr. Bush does not subscribe to the view that it is inappropriate for the people to exercise a little self-government when their elected officials demonstrate reluctance to act according to the people's will."   (Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal)
[link to PAY Site: ]

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