Capitol Alert

California bans use of ‘Redskins’ as school mascot or team name

In this June 17, 2014, file photo, Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field during an NFL football minicamp in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled.
In this June 17, 2014, file photo, Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field during an NFL football minicamp in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. AP

Amid national debate about the use of a term many critics call outdated and offensive, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation banning the use of “Redskins” as a school mascot or team name.

But the Democratic governor vetoed legislation that would prohibit naming public buildings and roads in California after Confederate leaders.

The “Redskins” bill’s enactment comes 11 years after then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation. Brown signed the bill without comment.

Assembly Bill 30, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will affect only four high schools in California – in Calaveras, Merced and Madera counties. The bill will let schools keep uniforms bearing the name if they are purchased before 2017 as long as the school selects a new team name, mascot or nickname.

In his 2004 veto of similar legislation, said local school boards should retain “general control over all aspects of their interscholastic policies.” Opponents of this year’s bill made a similar argument.

Brown himself appealed to local control in vetoing Senate Bill 539, the Confederate bill. He said in a veto message that the issue is “quintessentially for local decision makers.”

“Local governments are laboratories of democracy which, under most circumstances, are quite capable of deciding for themselves which of their buildings and parks should be named, and after whom.”

That reasoning did not satisfy the bill’s author, Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who helped guide Brown’s 2010 run for the governorship. He took to Twitter to criticize his former boss, calling the veto a “hollow defense of unacceptable status quo.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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