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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Proposed state-paid Cesar Chavez holiday won't make it to ballot

Proposed state-paid Cesar Chavez holiday won't make it to ballot

Proposed state-paid Cesar Chavez holiday won't make it to ballot
Elvia Díaz
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 23, 2004 04:50 PM


A measure seeking a statewide paid holiday to honor the late farm worker leader Cesar Chávez won't be on the November ballot, organizers of the effort said Wednesday.

Jim Lugo, a Glendale resident who led a group called Arizona United, said they won't have enough signatures for the Chávez paid holiday initiative.

"There really wasn't enough time to get money and organizer volunteers," said Lugo, who began collecting signatures for the Chávez measure at the end of March.

Arizona marks March 31 as a non-paid holiday for the Latino icon and organized-labor figure, who led California grape pickers on a successful strike to protest poor working conditions.

Meanwhile, supporters of Protect Arizona Now said they are close to gathering the necessary signatures to send voters their initiative designed, they say, to reduce voting and welfare fraud.

Rick Oltman, western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said his group's effort has gathered nearly 100,000 of the 122,600 signatures needed to put Protect Arizona Now on the Nov. 2 ballot. The deadline is July 1.

"It's our intention to qualify for the ballot," noted Oltman, who is planning a press conference Tuesday to give the signature petitions to Kathy McKee, the state director of Protect Arizona Now.

FAIR and other groups have shelled out roughly $410,000 to pay workers to gather signatures, according to Oltman.

Lugo said that although the Chávez proposed measure will fail to make it on the ballot, the effort gave him and his group a chance to also talk to people about what could be at stake for undocumented immigrants should Protect Arizona Now make it to the ballot.

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