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California Online Voter Guide

November 2006 General Election

14th Edition

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News Stories about the Propositions

CVF's News Stories section provides California voters with convenient access to a sampling of news articles that give an overview of the potential impact of each proposition on the ballot. If you have an article to suggest, please contact us.

Prop. 1A News Articles

State initiative would ban raids on gas tax funds
By Lynda Gledhill, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 2006


Voters will have the chance in November to make sure the sales tax on gasoline pays for transportation projects and is not repeatedly borrowed by the governor and lawmakers for other purposes without plans for repayment.

Advocates fought for the measure after years of seeing transportation funds raided by the state during lean budget years with no provision for paying the money back.

Proposition 1A would allow the state to borrow transportation money under very specific circumstances, and the measure dictates when the money will be repaid.

"It gives flexibility to the general fund to maneuver through a budget crisis, but we know we'll get the funds back," said Mark Watts, executive director of Transportation California.

Opponents warn, however, that other programs like education and health will suffer if Prop. 1A is approved. Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, said that money needs to go to transportation, but that locking in the money for roads will lead to cuts in other areas.

"This is saying roads are more important than schools, more important than health care," she said. "It's going to pass, and people aren't going to know what they've done until it's too late."

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The proposition still allows the state to borrow the gas tax money but specifies the money must be paid back with interest within three years. The state would only be allowed to borrow Prop. 1A money twice in a 10-year period and could not borrow unless previous loans were paid back. No borrowing done before the measure passes would be affected. The state has borrowed $2.1 billion of gas taxes and has paid back $1.4 billion so far. The balance is scheduled to be repaid over the next nine years, according to the state Department of Finance.

Watts said the guarantee that the money will get paid back is key because it will allow transportation planners to continue to move forward on projects.

"When you have an open-ended suspension without loan or repayment guarantee, you set a stop-and-start process in motion," he said. "You are wasting energy having to redo things, and it is a waste of money in the long run."

But Goldberg said the limits on borrowing essentially mean that the transportation money is off-limits in the case of an emergency.

"They're saying we can't use the money two years in a row, but a recession doesn't last one year," she said. "We don't get to use it when we need it the most. Instead we're going to have to cut education and health programs."

Prop. 1B News Articles

Bay Area would get at least $2 billion if Prop. 1B passes
By Michael Cabanatuan, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 2006


Proposition 1B, the transportation bond measure on the November ballot, would infuse at least $2 billion -- and perhaps as much as $4.5 billion -- into some major, long-stalled projects in the Bay Area.

Getting enough money to build a transportation project typically requires a time-consuming process of collecting money from a variety of sources: bond measures, transportation taxes, grants and development fees. Prop. 1B would provide a major infusion of cash and allow many big, partly funded projects to be constructed.

No projects are listed in the measure; instead, state and local agencies will decide what should get funded. But in the Bay Area, the money is likely to go to large and familiar projects that have already accumulated partial funding: carpool lanes on Interstate 580 in eastern Alameda County and on Highway 101 in Marin County or on the Peninsula; a fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel; and rebuilding the Cordelia Junction interchange of Interstates 80 and 680 and Highway 12.

If voters approve the measure, local agencies could decide to spend their allotted bond money on projects like bus-only highway lanes in the East Bay, BART extensions or railcar replacements, and Muni's Central Subway.

"Proposition 1B is going to be the best chance for voters to do something about transit in the Bay Area, about congestion relief in the Bay Area for a long time,'' said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "This bond gives big projects like that a chance to happen."

Backers, including the heavy construction industry and building trade unions, have already pumped more than $5 million into the campaign.

So far, there is little organized opposition. A taxpayers organization that is battling the bond measure has not raised enough money to register with the secretary of state as an opponent.

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, are neutral on Prop. 1B.

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hile the California Taxpayers Association is backing the bond measure, another taxpayers group, the California Taxpayer Protection Committee, is campaigning to defeat the proposition and the rest of the governor's infrastructure bonds.

Tom Hudson, executive director of the group, said it opposes the measure because it's borrowing money that will have to be repaid from an already-lean state general fund budget. It also steers too much money toward public transit when Californians prefer to drive and fails to revise the state's cumbersome environmental-review process, Hudson said.

Opponents expect to raise enough money to be considered formal opponents soon, he said.

Among the initiative's biggest backers is the California Alliance for Jobs, an Emeryville coalition of heavy construction companies and trade unions that also runs the Rebuild California campaign.

Dennis Oliver, a spokesman for the alliance and the campaign, said California has ignored its transportation infrastructure far too long and desperately needs to play catch-up.

"This is just the down payment we've known we would have to make for a long time,'' he said. "Voters know why it's needed. And I think they'll approve it.''

A July Field Poll found that 54 percent of California voters favored Prop. 1B while 27 percent were opposed and 19 percent undecided. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.

Prop. 1C News Articles

Housing bond would boost programs for the poor, Prop. 1C would also fund anti-sprawl projects in cities
By Greg Lucas, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 2006


A smorgasbord of programs aimed at making housing more available and affordable for lower-income Californians would receive the lion's share of the $2.85 billion housing bond on the November ballot, with much of the rest intended to help along anti-sprawl developments in urban areas.

Proposition 1C is part of a five-bond package approved earlier this year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and directs $1.5 billion to existing programs that provide grants or low-interest loans for everything from down-payment assistance to shelters for the homeless and farmworkers. The development programs, which account for $1.35 billion, are new, and lawmakers have yet to work out the details of how the money would be spent.

Builders and providers of low-income housing who support the measure stress how the measure would help victims of domestic violence, low-income seniors and the homeless. Opponents say the bond wouldn't make housing more affordable for most Californians and would increase California's debt by $6 billion over 30 years to pay off the principal and interest.

Prop. 1C appears to be registering with voters. An August poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 57 percent of likely voters surveyed supported the measure.

"It's not a handout. What we do with the bond money is we build additional housing so we increase the supply available to the state's most vulnerable people," said Julie Spezia, executive director of Housing California, one of the proposition's backers. "It's the kind of investment that, as our population grows, we need to keep pace with demand."

There is no active campaign against Prop. 1C other than a Web site created by Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who -- along with Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard -- signed the ballot argument against the proposition.

"The unspoken assertion of the bond is that lack of capital is the reason there isn't enough housing in this state. That's patently false," Leonard said. "Development restrictions, high labor costs, environmental barriers, neighborhood opposition -- there's a whole host of contributing factors. This proposition isn't going to make housing any more available or any more affordable."

Prop. 1D News Articles

New bond would hike school funds
By Connie Llanos, Los Angeles Daily News, September 18, 2006


A bond measure on November's ballot would bring billions to public schools, with a chunk earmarked for the state's community colleges.
If approved, Proposition 1D - the Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act - would increase funds for community colleges - from 40 percent to 50 percent - in the hopes of revitalizing the decades-old campuses.

The $10.4 billion bond would be shared among schools, two-year-colleges and four-year institutions. The state's 110 Community colleges, including College of the Canyons and Antelope Valley College, would share $1.5 billion.

Proponents of the bond measure say campuses need money to revitalize. Across the nation, two-year systems educate 10 percent of students and, in California, are leaders in vocational training.

"Community colleges are not equipped to service their students that are looking for a pathway to study careers in demanded fields," said Scott Lay, spokesman for the Community College League of California, noting that some campuses struggle to teach biotechnology in 50-year-old labs with dated equipment and materials.

Some taxpayer watchdogs oppose the measure.

"Education is not going hungry in this state," said Kris Vosburgh, spokesman for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. "It is not that this money is for education, these bonds are becoming a bottomless pit."

Prop. 1E News Articles

Schwarzenegger: $37 billion bond package is the focus of his statewide tour this week
By Greg Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, October 2, 2006


After nearly a month of squeezing positive publicity from signing bills, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger now begins a whistle-stop tour of the state -- with Democratic leaders of the Legislature in tow -- urging voters to approve a $37 billion package of public works bonds.


Traveling the state this week in support of the package gives Schwarzenegger another chance to score political style points, particularly with decline-to-state voters.

Democratic legislative leaders say the trip has nothing to do with the governor's re-election bid.

"This is just about the bonds," said Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. "Early on, we said we would be interested and willing to campaign with the governor and Phil Angelides on the bonds. It has nothing to do with partisan re-election efforts."

Placed on the ballot by lawmakers and the governor in May, the bond package is a significant investment in improving California's schools, highways and flood-control systems.

Proposition 1A demands that sales tax revenue on gasoline be used for highway projects. Proposition 1B contains nearly $20 billion for highway and transit projectsintended to reduce congestion. Proposition 1C contains $2.85 billion for housing programs mainly for low-income Californians.

Proposition 1D earmarks $10.4 billion for public school construction and modernization and improvements to community college and state university campuses. Proposition 1E would spend $4.1 billion to strengthen the state's deteriorating levee systems and other flood-control projects.

Schwarzenegger has also endorsed another bond, Proposition 84, which was placed on the ballot through signature-gathering. It splits $5.4 billion between water-related projects and land conservation efforts.

Backers of the five-bond package, Props. 1A through 1E, are stressing in their campaign that it is the product of Democrats and Republicans working together.

Prop. 83 News Articles

Crackdown urged on sex offenders; critics see flaws
By Andy Furillo, The Sacramento Bee, October 24, 2006


California's worst sex criminals would be in line for more prison time, lifetime satellite monitoring and virtual banishment from urban society under a crackdown measure set for the Nov. 7 ballot.

Proponents say that Proposition 83, the so-called "Jessica's Law" initiative, will save lives if it passes, and that children such as Samantha Runnion and its namesake, Jessica Lunsford, might be alive today if it had been on the books in the states in which they were kidnapped, raped and murdered.

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Opponents say Proposition 83 would drive sex offenders underground and away from treatment, thereby making them more dangerous.

Many of the initiative's provisions were recently set in law with a bill that passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the opponents say. Moreover, they say the law is too expensive, and that one of its key components -- the residency restrictions that would bar sex offenders from living near schools and parks -- has been repudiated by some previous supporters.

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The way the initiative is written, all 90,000 sex offenders now required to register with their local police departments would be barred from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks -- which, for tens of thousands, would force them to move out of cities and into more rural districts.

"I think that will destabilize many people who have been convicted of sexual offenses but who have settled into a fairly stable life," said Tom Tobin, a public policy analyst for the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, a Stockton-based group that seeks to reduce sexual abuse through education and relapse prevention training.

"That stable life and their support systems enable them to continue crime free in the community," Tobin said. "If we destroy those systems and those networks and those residences, it's more likely to lead to a sex crime than continuing stability."

Despite the actual wording of the initiative, supporters of Proposition 83 say it would be unconstitutional to apply the residency restriction retroactively against registered sex offenders who have been discharged from probation or parole and have stayed clean. The intent of the law, the supporters say, is to apply the residency restrictions only to the new cases.

California District Attorneys Association Executive Director Dave LaBahn, a Proposition 83 supporter, said he fully expects a lawsuit would be filed over the residency provision and that the courts ultimately would have to sort the issue out.

Sex Offender Crackdown Measure Ties Into a National Trend
By Jenifer Warren, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2006


A national movement to restrict where released sex offenders may live has swept into California this election season, with voters set to approve or reject a far-reaching crackdown on society's most loathed ex-convicts.

Proposition 83 on the Nov. 7 ballot — dubbed Jessica's Law by proponents — would lengthen prison and parole terms for the most violent sex offenders and make possession of child pornography a felony.

In addition, its most controversial provision would ban all released sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Local governments could declare additional locations off-limits, and sex offenders would be monitored for life with an electronic tracking device.

If passed, the measure would cost the state at least $200 million annually within a decade, according to the nonpartisan legislative analyst, largely because of the satellite tracking and police needed to enforce it.

The initiative's sponsors, a husband-and-wife team of Republican legislators, say the measure is worth the expense. Although there are no studies showing that residency limits reduce the number of sex crimes, they say common sense and public anxiety make it a smart idea to ban former offenders from areas where children gather.

"When a child walks to school, he or she shouldn't have to walk by a molester's home to get there," said state Sen. George Runner of Lancaster, lead proponent of the proposition with his wife, Sharon, an assemblywoman.

Foes say the measure is based on hysteria, not facts, and ignores a central truth: that nine out of 10 sex offenders are not monsters lurking in the bushes but instead prey on people they know. Opponents, including a coalition representing victims, also note that the law would not forbid loitering near schools and say it could put children in greater danger by giving parents a false sense of security.

Citing the experience of other states, some scholars say the residency rule would banish the former convicts from urban settings that offer the services, jobs and family connections that help them remain law-abiding — and dump them on rural communities ill-equipped to supervise them. In Iowa, prosecutors who once backed such a law said the residency limit had backfired, and they now want it repealed.

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The constitutionality of zoning out sex offenders is somewhat murky. Iowa's 2,000-foot restriction was overturned in 2003. But the state's Supreme Court later ruled that any infringement on sex offenders' freedom of residency was superseded by the state's interest in protecting its citizens. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear it.

The California initiative comes at a time when public concern over crime is low, surveys show. And sex crimes against children have declined in recent years, said Franklin Zimring, a professor of criminal law at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law.

Zimring added that despite the persistent myth about strangers presenting the greatest threat, only 7% of juvenile victims are assaulted by strangers, according to a 2000 report by the U.S. Department of Justice. Fifty-nine percent of victims are attacked by an acquaintance and 34% are preyed on by a family member, the report showed.

"It may just be that kids know a lot of pedophiles," Zimring said. "Or it could be that sometimes Uncle Willy gets drunk, and God knows what Uncle Willy is going to do, and to whom and where."

Although Runner has said sex offenders have the highest recidivism rates among felons, government statistics show the opposite. Over a three-year period after their release from prison, 5.3% of sex offenders were rearrested for a new sex crime, according to another Justice Department report. Sex offenders also were less likely than other felons to be rearrested for any different type of crime.

"This is solid data," Zimring said, "but it is strong feelings — not facts — that dominate in this arena."

Runner acknowledged that he has strong feelings about the topic. He said he decided to launch the initiative drive after Democrats in the Legislature balked at proposals to increase prison time for molesters, lengthen parole for the worst offenders and ensure that those who rape children spend at least 25 years behind bars.

"It was time to take it to the people," Runner said. "We believe this is something they want."

Although Runner said it was his intent that the measure apply only to sex offenders released from prison in the future, there is no language to that effect in the initiative. Opponents say it would also sweep up the more than 85,000 registered sex offenders who have already served their time. Both sides agree that such disputes will probably be resolved as part of a court challenge if the measure passes.

Also contentious is the question of using satellite monitoring to watch every sex offender until his or her death. Under Proposition 83, offenders would wear a wireless, waterproof bracelet the size of a deck of cards on an ankle. They would wear the bands at all times, and their movements would be tracked from a distant location.

Supporters say tracking would keep predators from committing new crimes by acting as a deterrent. Foes say requiring offenders to be monitored, regardless of the severity of their crimes or the current threat they pose to the public, would overwhelm police and divert attention from the truly dangerous.

In California, about 440 high-risk sex offenders are monitored electronically now; 1,500 more parolees will be added next year.

The technology can alert authorities when paroled offenders stray into banned areas, but officials said agents around the state more typically rely on it after the fact, to verify that parolees were truthful in reporting their whereabouts. Whether more real-time monitoring would occur under Proposition 83, given the manpower needed to watch so many blinking lights on a map, is unclear.

Among those watching the campaign most anxiously are sex offenders themselves, thousands of whom would be required to move if the initiative passes. Mel Hellman, 62, of Whittier is one. He lives near two elementary schools and a high school. He has owned his home since 1971 and also owns a local electronics store.

In 1969, he pleaded no contest to false imprisonment of two teenage girls he knew and attempted insertion of a foreign object. He served no prison time but was on probation for five years and now must register as a sex offender every year.

"I made a terrible mistake, and every day I live with the guilt of that and feel horrible inside," said Hellman, who is married and has three children and three grandchildren. "But it was 27 years ago, and I've never had another incident…. Everyone hates people like me, and that's OK. But we're not all the same."

Restrictions will drive offenders underground, measure's foes say
By Sean Webby, San Jose Mercury News, September 27, 2006


The concept is simple, popular and spreading across the country: keep registered sex offenders from settling down near the places where children gather -- schools and parks.

If Proposition 83 is enacted by voters in November, all registered sex offenders, including those who have not molested children, would be barred from living within 2,000 feet -- more than six football fields -- from any school or park in California.

But because of the numbers of schools and parks in urban areas, the measure could turn entire California cities -- San Jose and San Francisco among them -- into virtual ``Predator Free Zones.''

While that may be popular among voters, some law enforcement officials responsible for monitoring sex offenders say Proposition 83 will squeeze sex offenders into homelessness or remote areas that lack the police to monitor them or the support network to keep them out of trouble.

Like Megan's Law, which created a publicly viewable database of the state's 66,000 registered offenders on the streets, Jessica's Law is named after a young homicide victim and based on the disputed concept that many sex offenders are incorrigible time bombs liable to reoffend at any time.

"The bottom line is that parents don't want to have their children going to school next to a child molester,'' said Becky Warren, a spokeswoman for Yes on 83.

"To deal with that you need a full package of stronger laws. And like with Megan's Law, we think it's an important protection.''

Jessica's Law is named after Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old Florida girl who was killed, allegedly by a convicted sex offender working as a laborer at her school.

The lead sponsors -- state Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, and his wife, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster -- picked 2,000 feet because that is about as far as kids walk to school on their own, Warren said.

There are similar laws in place elsewhere. Miami Beach, for example has a 2,500-foot zone around schools, school bus stops, day-care centers, parks and playgrounds.

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The ballot measure -- which also requires global positioning systems for all felony-convicted offenders and increases penalties for some sex crimes -- is looking like it has broad support. From the governor to the attorney general and a large array of public safety organizations, they tout it as an effective new set of law enforcement tools to deal with recidivist sex criminals, particularly those who would prey on children.

There are obvious critics of the proposition: Many defense lawyers say it would be unfair and unconstitutional.

But a surprising crowd is also aligning against Proposition 83, including vehement critics in law enforcement whose job is to monitor offenders. They say the law -- forms of which have been adopted in about two dozen other states -- is an expensive and ill-thought out legislative NIMBYism that ignores facts about sex offenses and recidivism. They worry that the law will force many sex offenders into homelessness or into suburban or rural areas poorly prepared to handle them.

"There are a lot of flaws in this,'' said police Sgt. Ron Helder, who heads San Jose's much emulated sex offender monitoring team. ``This is less about protecting children than politics.''

In San Jose, there would be only a handful of small pockets where a registered sex offender could live, including an industrial stretch of Monterey Highway and a tony neighborhood abutting the Almaden Country Club.

If passed, the measure would cost the state more than $100 million annually within a decade, according to the legislative analyst.

Proponents say it's worth the cost.

"There are likely to be new challenges that arise if Jessica's Law is passed,'' said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer. ``But these challenges will be well worth overcoming if it succeeds in reducing the amount of sex crimes against children.''

Prop. 84 News Articles

Even without a rival group, Prop. 84 faces a tough fight
By Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, September 20, 2006


Millions of Californians spent the summer relaxing on public beaches, hiking in redwood parks and boating on lakes.

Those activities were made possible by the investments of past generations. That's the message that environmentalists and other supporters of Proposition 84, a $5.4 billion bond measure on the Nov. 7 statewide ballot to fund parks and water projects, want to get out. Why? They hope voters in seven weeks will make new investments for future generations.

But with 12 other measures on the ballot -- including $37 billion in four other bond proposals for highways, schools, affordable housing and flood control -- persuading voters to check "yes'' could be a challenge, experts say.

"It's a tough election for initiatives this year. It's hard to get noticed,'' said pollster Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan research firm in San Francisco.

Proposition 84 is the largest parks and water bond in state history.

If approved by a majority of voters, the measure would raise $5.4 billion through the sale of general obligation bonds to shore up aging levees in San Francisco Bay's delta, build drinking water treatment plants, fund flood control, restore salmon runs and purchase new parklands from Lake Tahoe to Monterey Bay to Los Angeles. Roughly half the money would fund parks and half water projects.

The measure qualified for the ballot after a coalition of 11 environmental groups turned in 632,000 signatures in April. The group includes the Nature Conservancy, California Audubon Society, Save-the-Redwoods League, Peninsula Open Space Trust and Big Sur Land Trust.

The supporters' argument is simple: Because California's population, driven largely by immigration, is growing by more than 500,000 people every year, the state must do all it can to preserve beaches, forests, rivers and streams before they are lost to sprawl. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans reinforced the need for new spending to improve levees and flood control, they add.

"We're going to see huge population growth in the next 25 years,'' said Colleen Haggerty, a spokeswoman for the Yes on Proposition 84 campaign. ``Our investments in water management and water safety haven't been keeping up. And protecting land and beaches are important quality-of-life issues as population grows.''

Critics complain that Proposition 84 only includes money to study new reservoirs, not to construct them. Some also note that state lawmakers have not provided enough funding for rangers to adequately staff the existing public lands.

"I want people to read it. It is misnamed. They put the words "water supply'' in the title, but there is no new water in it. It is unbelievably vague,'' said Bill Leonard, a former Republican state legislator from the San Bernardino area who serves on the state Board of Equalization.

Opponents do not have an organized campaign and have not raised money.

Prop. 85 News Articles

Latino votes seen as key to Prop. 85
Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, October 23, 2006


The outreach in Latino communities -- by both anti-abortion and abortion rights forces -- reflects the competitive stakes of the parental notification initiative. The measure, a modified version of last year's Proposition 73, would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian before performing abortions on girls under 18.

Proposition 73 lost by 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent as voters were resoundingly rejecting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's unrelated special election initiatives. So parental notification backers gathered signatures anew, hoping the initiative would fare better in a general election with a broader voter turnout.

While the parental notification initiative is strongly supported by anti-abortion Republican groups and widely opposed by Democratic leaders, the issue plays out differently among Latinos. Though predominantly Democratic, they are seen as a crucial vote because they are more likely to part with their party's abortion rights views.

At Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, a Los Angeles parish with a history of backing immigrant rights, the Sanctuary Movement sheltering 1980s war refugees from El Salvador and other liberal causes, the Rev. Steve Niskanen melds sermons favoring Proposition 85 with criticism of the Iraq war. "I mention 85 in the context of a wider net of pro-life issues, including opposition to war and euthanasia," Niskanen says.

Meanwhile, at Planned Parenthood offices in Pasadena, campaign volunteer Claudia Estrada Powell speaks in Spanish as she trains bilingual women and girls to walk Latino communities to tell parents to vote "no."

Writing on a poster board, she reviews talking points, including warning parents that the notification requirement could imperil the safety of pregnant girls by causing them to delay medical care or counseling or forcing them to seek dangerous or illegal abortions.

"Instead of spending all this money on a campaign, they (initiative backers) should spend it on pregnancy education and prevention," Estrada Powell, who is Catholic, says in an interview.


Margaret Crosby, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, maintains that Proposition 85 would still undermine an "explicit right to privacy" under the state constitution and result in "a major restriction on abortion rights for young women.

"The purpose of this is to discourage doctors from providing reproductive health care to California teenagers," Crosby said. "And there's a segment of society that wants to harass and discourage doctors from performing abortions."

Katie Short, a Ventura County lawyer who helped draft both Proposition 73 and Proposition 85, said the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld parental notification and consent laws as consistent with the high court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

She argues that 35 states now have parental involvement laws for abortion and says California joining the list won't roll back any legal rights.

Prop. 73 returns as 85, backers think a law affecting abortions may pass this year
By Martin Wisckol, Orange County Register, September 27, 2006


The message hasn't changed: Proponents want parents notified before minors get abortions.

The same measure lost in November's special election. Backers of Proposition 85 expect to be outspent again by their opponents, but they say they'll win this time around because of a different type of voter turnout – one more sympathetic to their cause.

"If it was on any other ballot besides that special election, it would pass," said Newport Beach's Mike Schroeder, a supporter and former chairman of the state Republican Party, referring to last year's defeat.

Last year, Proposition 73 lost 53 percent to 47 percent. Some say the loss was attributable to a "vote no on everything" mentality, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's four proposals the primary target.

Democrats and union members were particularly motivated to turn out last time, which also cut into support.
"It got wrapped up in the anti-Arnold mood," said elections handicapper Allan Hoffenblum, who thinks the measure – now Prop. 85 – can pass this time.

But that view is far from universal. Last year, opponents outspent advocates by more than 2 to 1. Both sides say opponents will again come out on top in the spending.

"They're the only ones who have the money to campaign extensively on television," said Republican political consultant Dave Gilliard. "And if it's a one-sided campaign, they win. If they can make it a pro-choice issue, they win."

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Stephanie Kight of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties points to efforts in South Dakota to outlaw abortion and to the changing makeup of the Supreme Court as indications that legal abortion is vulnerable.
The Prop. 85 campaign's position is that the measure is not an abortion-rights issue – it's simply an effort to ensure parents' rights.

In any event, key backers of the measure are anti-abortion activists. Chief among them is San Diego Reader publisher James Holman, who was the major bankroller for last year's measure. He has lent this year's campaign more than $2.2 million.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a group that opposes abortion rights, has pitched in $10,000. On a smaller, local scale, Fountain Valley's Bob and Beverly Cielnicky of Crusade for Life have given $1,000 each. The California ProLife Council, the Campaign for Children and Families, and the California Catholic Conference – all abortion-rights foes – got behind last year's measure and are expected back Prop. 85.

Opponents point to the list as evidence that the measure is an attack on abortion rights.

"When you look at who's backing this, it's no secret what their agenda is," Kight said.

Kight's own family planning organization, Planned Parenthood, is leading the charge against the measure and is a primary source of campaign funds. Of some $2.9 million raised for the opponents' primary campaign organization this year, $2.3 million has come from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.

The "no" campaign topped $5 million last year and could do so again.

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Proponents have adjusted the wording of the measure in an effort to weaken some arguments against it. One change is removing the definition of a fetus as "a child conceived but not yet born." Opponents last year pointed to that as an indication of the philosophy and ultimate intent of the backers.

Steve Smith, campaign manager for "No on 85," said proponents showed their hand with that comment even if it doesn't appear this time around.

Another change is stating explicitly that a parent can sign a standing waiver for their daughter, which would allow her to get an abortion any time without special notification. This is designed to defuse the argument of the parent who says, "I just want my daughter to be safe if she's going to have an abortion, I don't care if I know," said Albin Rhomberg of "Yes on 85."

But opponents say they're not worried about such minor changes.

"They don't take away the argument that the most vulnerable teens would be a risk," said Kight. She's worried that teens who are afraid to tell their parents would also be afraid to seek the court waiver option provided for in the measure. "Those are the teens that come from abusive homes and can't tell their parents."

Prop. 86 News Articles

Measure called both lifesaver, tax abuse: Backers say tobacco levy would cut smoking, boost services; foes say hospital industry would profit.
By Clea Benson, The Sacramento Bee, October 25, 2006


California smokers will be paying an average of $6.60 for a pack of cigarettes if voters approve Proposition 86 on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The measure would add a $2.60-per-pack tax on top of the current state levy of 87 cents, giving California the highest tobacco tax in the nation.

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Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have raised about $57 million so far for a blitz of negative television ads that hammer hospital emergency rooms for taking more than a third of the proceeds from the new tax.

"This doesn't even come close to paying for the true financial impact of tobacco on our health care system, said Jim Knox, a vice president of the California branch of the American Cancer Society, which is backing Proposition 86. "So it's entirely appropriate that the tobacco tax be used for a wide variety of health care programs because tobacco affects a wide variety of health care needs."

The California Hospital Association is campaigning for the measure alongside advocates of universal children's health insurance, which would get about a fifth of the funds. Another fifth would go to various tobacco-control and anti-cancer efforts.

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Hospitals say they desperately need the money to stop more emergency rooms from closing. About 70 emergency departments have closed in California over the last decade because of financial problems, said Jan Emerson of the California Hospital Association.

"Twenty-five percent of all emergency room visits are linked to tobacco usage, so we feel there's a definite connection there," Emerson said.

The funds would be distributed to hospitals based on a formula including how many uninsured patients they treat and volume in their emergencyrooms.

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The focus on hospitals has overshadowed the other potential beneficiaries of the measure. With about 800,000 uninsured children in the state, supporters of universal children's coverage are hoping that Proposition 86 will provide a way to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in costs of enrolling all of them in public insurance programs.

The measure is expected to bring in about $2.1 billion a year, but that amount would decline over time. New taxes usually decrease cigarette sales as the cost drives existing consumers away and deters new users.

Revenue from the existing cigarette taxes approved by California voters has declined about 10 percent since 2000, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office. Proceeds from the existing taxes fund breast cancer research and treatment, early childhood development and various health programs.

Opponents say the steep increase would lead to a precipitous decline in tobacco purchases, starving existing programs that are supported by tax revenue and failing to support the new programs that the measure would create.

"This is going to create a new funding gap and exacerbate the state budget problems that already exist," said Donna Arduin, a former finance director in the Schwarzenegger administration who is a paid consultant to the No on 86 campaign.

Arduin estimated that the tax would bring in only about $1.4 billion annually, about $700 million less than supporters expect.

Knox disputed Arduin's findings. But if her analysis were correct, he said, "twice as many lives would be saved from the reduction in smoking. That would be a very positive impact."

Cigarette tax plan would insure kids, reimburse ER care, tobacco firms call Prop. 86 a power grab by hospitals
By Lynda Gledhilll , San Francisco Chronicle, September 26, 2006


Hospitals and health care groups are betting that California voters don't care whether smokers have to pay higher taxes on cigarettes if the money collected goes to fund health care programs.

Proposition 86 would raise the excise tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.60, generating an estimated $2.1 billion a year for everything from emergency health services and children's health care to prostate cancer treatment, as well as some tobacco cessation and prevention services.

The bulk of the money would go to reimburse hospital emergency rooms for the cost of treating the uninsured and would expand programs so that every child in California would have health insurance. Money would also fund research on cancer and tobacco-related diseases, community clinics and nurse education.

In 2005, California's adult smoking rate was at a historic low of 14 percent, according to the Department of Health Services. That represents a drop from 22.7 percent in 1988, when California voters approved Prop. 99, a 25 cent tobacco tax that established the state's anti-tobacco programs. The Department of Health Services also states that tobacco use remains the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in California, killing more than 40,000 Californians each year.

Most small or moderate tobacco tax increases do result in consumers purchasing fewer products, the nonpartisan legislative analyst said, but because the proposed increase in Prop. 86 is so large, it is harder to predict consumer behavior.

Supporters of the initiative cite a Department of Health Services analysis stating that Prop. 86 would stop 700,000 children from becoming smokers and prevent 300,000 premature deaths.

"This measure is good for public health, good for kids and good for California," said Paul Knepprath, vice president for government relations for the American Lung Association.

Opponents charge that Prop. 86 is nothing more than a power grab by hospitals, allowing them to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money. They charge that hospitals would overcharge the uninsured in order to reap more money, although the proposition does require the funds to be audited every year.

"If this were truly an effort to get people to stop smoking, then more than 10 percent of the money would be earmarked for prevention and cessation programs," said Carla Hass, a spokeswoman for the opponents.

Tobacco companies have contributed the bulk of the $50 million amassed to fight the measure.

The tax hike would extend to all tobacco products in the state, something that has Joe Barron, co-owner of Grant's Tobacconist on Market Street in San Francisco, worried about the future of his store.

Barron said he is worried that many of his customers would turn to the Internet to buy cigars and other tobacco products.

"I'm going to have to figure out how much I'm going to be able to mark things up," he said. "There is no way that I can pass it all on to the customers. I'm going to have to take some of the hit."

Some public safety groups oppose the measure because of concerns how it might affect their ability to keep the streets safe.

Tobacco and oil ballot issues draw big money
By Lynda Gledhilll and Matthew Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 2006


Election season is barely under way, but two ballot measures that strike at the bottom lines of oil and tobacco firms have already attracted more than $100 million in campaign contributions.

In separate media blitzes, tobacco companies are trying to defeat a measure that would tax cigarette sales to fund health care programs, and oil companies are trying to sink a measure that would tax oil production to increase research into alternative fuels.

With the barrage of television ads likely to continue until election day, other ballot measures, such as a package of five public works bonds that together have collected $20 million in campaign contributions, could get overshadowed, some observers say.

"When you have so much spending occurring on a couple of initiatives, you have to wonder how the voters will get information on other measures on the ballot," said Mark Baldassare, executive director of the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco.

Tobacco firms already have committed $40 million to defeat Proposition 86, which would raise the state cigarette excise tax by $2.60 a pack to $3.47. The money would fund emergency services, children's health care and tobacco-prevention programs.

Oil companies since January have pumped in the bulk of about $35 million contributed to kill Proposition 87, which would impose a tax on oil producers in California. The tax would range between 1.5 percent to 6 percent, depending on the price of oil per barrel. The aim is to raise $4 billion for researching and producing alternative fuels and energy.

It's not a coincidence that the oil and tobacco industries are out front in spending money, said Steve Swatt, a senior consultant in media relations for Porter Novelli.

"These are two of the most P.R.-challenged industries. To make up that credibility problem, they have to spend huge amounts of money," Swatt said. "When you have a wealthy, deep-pocket special interest that is at risk because of one initiative, they will write checks like there is no tomorrow because so much is at stake."

Although election day is nearly two months away, the campaign contributions on these two measures already rival such previous big expenditures as an estimated $300 million that poured in from all sides for last November's special election.

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"In some ways, the bond measures are the really big one on the ballot, but voters might be going to go into the election without hearing much one way or the other," said Matsusaka. "They will end up voting on their instincts."

Anthony Rubenstein, a former Hollywood screenwriter and executive who is the mastermind behind Prop. 87, said his team decided to start its TV campaign early because it had heard that the opposition was about to start running television commercials. Prop. 87 seeks to reduce petroleum consumption by 25 percent by establishing an estimated $4 billion program for research and development in alternative fuels and energy.

Nick DeLuca, a spokesman for No on 87, said the campaign decided to run the ads early because the issue was complicated and the public needed to know why the initiative was a bad idea.

"Our intent was to communicate that this was a significant issue that can affect gas prices," DeLuca said.

If the money pouring into both campaigns so far is any indication, Prop. 87 could end up being a bloody fight until the bitter end.

Large oil companies have led the charge in opposing Prop. 87 -- they have pumped in most of the $35 million contributed since January.

The fight is being led by San Ramon's Chevron Corp., which has contributed $13.1 million, followed by Aera Energy LLP's $12.6 million and Occidental Oil and Gas Corp.'s $4.75 million.

Not to be outdone, supporters also have been writing big checks, totaling $21.8 million since the beginning of the year.

The supporters are led by Stephen Bing, a Hollywood mogul who has been a generous donor to largely Democratic causes. So far he has contributed about $16.5 million.

Other big donors to the Yes on Prop. 87 campaign are from the Silicon Valley. Google co-founder and president Larry Page has plunked down $1 million, while legendary high-tech venture capitalist John Doerr and his colleague Vinod Khosla at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers in Menlo Park have given $950,000 and $1.1 million, respectively.

Carla Hass, spokeswoman for the No on Prop. 86 campaign, said advertising early was part of their strategy as well.

"With 12 other propositions on the ballot, it is important for voters to be able to distinguish one from another," she said.

To date, supporters of Prop. 86 have aired only one television commercial in the Sacramento area, and they said they expect to get outspent 10 to 1. The proponents have put in $11 million, about 80 percent of that coming from hospitals.

"We're never going to be able to keep up with big tobacco," said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association. "People need to see through that -- they are going to spend whatever they have trying to protect their bottom line."

Fact Check: Proposition 86 TV Ads
By Mark Matthews, ABCNews7, September 7, 2006


Proposition 86 would impose a $2.60 tax on a pack of cigarettes. That's expected to raise $2 billion a year to be spent on hospital services, emergency rooms, cancer treatments and tobacco prevention programs. Hospitals are kicking in most of the financial support for 86.

Thanks to Rod Peterson who e-mailed me and asked to have these ads fact-checked. I think he was talking mostly about the No on 86 ad because that's the one we've seen on the air. The Yes on 86 ad has only played in Sacramento, so far. But we'll show you both in this Fact Check.

No on 86 TV Ad: "When I heard about Prop 86 I liked the idea of raising cigarette taxes, then I read the whole 38 pages. It's full of special interest loopholes."

Fact Check: Discount the music shift from light to scary. What the ad is expressing here is an opinion and it's focusing on one small part of the much larger proposition -- an anti-trust provision for hospitals.

No on 86 TV Ad: "It gives hospitals an exemption to anti-trust laws written to protect California consumers."

Fact Check: The ad is accurate here, but it misses the details. What the measure says is hospitals in the same region can work together to provide enough medical specialists on duty at any one time, without being penalized under anti-trust laws. Prop. 86 also mandates that any collaboration would have to be approved by local governments, and those hospitals would be subject to new limits on what they could charge low income emergency room patients.

No on 86 TV Ad: "Letting them divi up and limit many medical services and raise prices without worrying about competition."

Fact Check: "This statement is misleading. It ignores the oversight by local governments which presumably would be able to sort out hospital agreements that might harm consumers from agreements that would benefit the community.

No on 86 TV Ad: "No accountability for the money, it gives hospitals and HMOs too much at our expense."

Fact Check: The "no accountability for the money" statement is not accurate. Distribution of the tax money is spelled out in detail. And the measure provides for audits and puts limits on spending. As for giving hospitals and HMOs too much, that's an opinion.

Here's the Yes on 86 ad.

Yes on 86 TV Ad: "Remember when tobacco executives testifed to Congress that cigarettes and nicotine were not addictive? They lied. Now they're at it again. Big tobacco will say anything, do anything and spend anything to defeat Prop. 86 because it reduces smoking by increasing cigarette taxes."

Fact Check: This statement is misleading. It accuses the tobacco companies of lying, but doesn't say what they're supposed to be lying about in opposing 86. Analysts say the measure will reduce smoking by raising the cost of a pack of cigarettes to $6.60 a pack.

Yes on 86 TV Ad: "Prop. 86 is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Heart Association and Lung Association."

Fact Check: This statement is also misleading. It ignores hospitals which would get a third of the money raised by the new tax. Hospitals are by far the biggest contributors to the Yes on 86 campaign.

Yes on 86 TV Ad: "It will reduce teen smoking, prevent premature deaths and save billions in health care costs."

Fact Check: The state's legislative analyst says teen smoking will go down because teens will be affected by the price of a pack, but the analyst would not put a number on reducing deaths or saving money, other than to say the impact could be significant.

Prop. 87 News Articles

Fact Check: Proposition 87 TV Ads
By Mark Matthews, ABCNews7, September 7, 2006


Proposition 87 would establish a 1.5% to 6% tax on oil extracted from California fields, depending on the price per barrel.
It would prohibit oil companies from passing the tax onto consumers. Revenues estimated at $400 million a year would be used to fund alternative energy programs. The goal is to cut California oil consumption by 25% over 10 years.

Film producer Stephen Bing and venture capitalists from Silicon Valley with financial interests in alternative energy are the big financial backers of Prop. 87. The opponents are the big oil companies and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

Big oil and tossed in more than $30 million to defeat 87. The Yes on 87 forces have raised close to $18 million.

Here are the ads:

Yes on 87 TV Ad: "The oil companies are making us pay. They made 78 billion last year."

Fact Check: The $78 billion refers to the combined profits of Exxon, Shell, Occidental and Chevron.

And it's true outgoing Exxon Ceo Lee Raymond got a $400 million golden handshake.

Yes on 87 TV Ad: "They pay billions in drilling fees to Texas but not to Californians."

Fact Check: That's sort of accurate. Over the years oil companies have paid Texas billions, last year it was $680 million. Texas takes 4.5% cut from it's oil fields, California has no oil production tax.

But opponents of 87 say it's not fair to compare the two states because Texas has no state coporate income tax and California does it's 8.8%. Though analyst say the oil companies pay far less than that because of tax breaks. Oil companies won't say how much they pay and those tax records aren't public.

Yes on 87 TV Ad: "It's time for them to pay their fare share. Yes on 87 make oil companies pay and make it illegal to pass the cost to us."

Fact Check: Fair share is anybody's opinion but making it illegal to pass the cost to consumers is accurate. The proposition forbids passing on the cost of the tax by raising price of gas or diesel.

Here's the No on 87 ad:

No on 87 TV Ad: "So now they want to increase oil taxes, really a four billion dollar state tax increase on oil, ouch"

Fact Check: The location of the ad is misleading. 87 is not a tax on gasoline it's a tax on oil production paid for by oil companies when they pump oil out of California fields. And prop 87 prohibits passing the cost of the tax onto consumers at the gas pump.

No on 87 TV Ad: "And for what to fund a new alternative energy beaurocracy with no accountability to tax payers and no requirement they produce any results."

Fact Check: That's not accurate. The proposition sets up a nine member panel of experts including the Secretary for Environmental Protection the chair of the State Energy Resources Commission. The proposition provides for independents audits of how the tax money is spent along with annual reports to the governor and legislature and the formation of a citizen oversight committee.

No on 87 TV Ad: "Vote no on 87, it's a recipe for waste not progress."

Fact Check: That's the opinion of the No on 87 campaign.

But will 87 raise the price of gas? The price of oil is set on a world market, not state by state.

Backers of Prop. 87 send out clean-air cars from San Diego
By John Marelius, San Diego Union-Tribune, September 7, 2006


Supporters of the Proposition 87 oil tax initiative on the November ballot yesterday launched a caravan of alternative energy-powered vehicles from San Diego across the state to promote their measure, which would pay for research into cleaner-burning fuels.

“Prop. 87 will bring cleaner air and cheaper energy to make us healthier, wealthier and safer,” said Anthony Rubenstein, sponsor of the initiative. “Prop. 87 replaces imported oil with fuels made right here at home.”

He made his case at Pearson Ford Fuels, the only service station in the state that features a full menu of alternative fuels.

Proposition 87 seeks to reduce gasoline and diesel consumption in California by 25 percent over the next 10 years by taxing oil extracted in the state to finance a $4 billion alternative energy program.

Although the Nov. 7 election is two months away, a major anti-87 television advertising campaign has been airing for weeks, financed largely by energy companies.

As of June 30, supporters of Proposition 87 had barely $700,000 in the bank, while opponents were sitting on a war chest of nearly $9 million.

“We're not fighting Goliath, we're fighting Goliath's big brother,” said Rubenstein, a one-time screenwriter who calls himself a community activist. “There's nobody more powerful in California than the oil companies that run Sacramento and Washington.”

Opponents of Proposition 87 contend the measure would drive up gasoline prices.

“If you're going to tax oil production in California, you're going to get less of it,” said Scott Macdonald, spokesman for the No on 87 campaign. “You have to replace that with something else and that's going to be foreign oil.”

Macdonald said opponents of the initiative have no objection to developing alternative energy sources.

“This is not a discussion of whether we need alternative fuels and alternative-fuel vehicles,” he said. “We are all on board with that need. The question is whether Proposition 87 is the answer and the answer is no.”

On that score, oil companies have no credibility, said Mike Lewis, owner of Pearson Ford Fuel and chairman of the San Diego Environmental Foundation.

“The reason we need Prop. 87 is because when you leave it to the large energy companies, in my experience, you end up with a lot of billboards – a lot of people talking about alternative fuels,” Lewis said. “It takes three guys in San Diego to build a thing like this. This station offers choices; Prop. 87 offers choices.”

Prop. 87 has a $40 million donor
By Laura Mecoy, The Sacramento Bee, September 22, 2006


Movie producer Stephen L. Bing set a new California campaign contribution record with Thursday's announcement that he has donated $40 million to Proposition 87, the oil tax initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot.

While other wealthy activists have contributed large sums to their own political campaigns, campaign finance experts said no individual has ever contributed this much to a California proposition.

"This is completely unprecedented to have an individual pump this much money into a ballot measure," said Robert Stern, Center for Governmental Studies president.

Ned Wigglesworth, California Common Cause policy advocate, said Bing's donations rival the amounts given by entire industries in ballot measure battles.

"It's ridiculous that one person thinks they have a right to assert so much influence over public policy because they have the money to do so," Wigglesworth said. "This is a power grab, albeit a well-intentioned power grab, by a rich guy."

Bing, perhaps best known for his paternity battle with actress Elizabeth Hurley, declined to comment through his spokeswoman. The 41-year-old real estate heir is among the nation's leading donors to Democratic and environmental causes but rarely speaks to the media.

Former President Clinton announced Bing's donation at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City on Thursday and praised Proposition 87 as a "big deal," according to a transcript of his remarks from the "Yes on 87" campaign.

The "Yes on 87" campaign held a telephone news conference later in the day to confirm Bing was depositing more than $13.5 million into its campaign coffers to bring his total to more than $40 million.

Prop. 88 News Articles

Initiative backers contend top supporter still involved
By Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News, September 15, 2006


Backers of Proposition 88, the ballot initiative that proposes a statewide parcel tax to pay for additional public school funding, insisted Thursday that their campaign is going forward.

The Sacramento Bee reported that Reed Hastings, CEO of Los Gatos-based Netflix and the measure's biggest financial backer, had been advised to stop funding the measure.

Hastings was traveling out of the country Thursday and could not be reached for comment. But his colleagues at EdVoice, the group leading the campaign, said Thursday that Hastings is still very much involved in the campaign. Hastings is a founding member of the organization.

"Reed is definitely supporting Prop. 88,'' said Paul Mitchell, EdVoice's political director and chief operating officer, who stressed that the campaign has more than $1 million in the bank. ``The fact that he hasn't given money lately is hardly a sign that he's backing away from the campaign.''

The Nov. 7 ballot is filled with 13 initiatives, including harsher punishments for sex offenders, a new cigarette tax to pay for health programs, and a tax on oil companies to help pay for alternative energy. With such a crowded ballot, Proposition 88's backers have discussed the need for a different kind of campaign. Instead of going the traditional route and spending millions on television ads, they've discussed using guerrilla marketing and social networking Web sites to get the word out.

Still, the initiative faces an uphill battle. Opponents are using the phrase ``It's easy to hate Prop. 88,'' and have established a formidable coalition that includes traditional opponents, such as the California Labor Federation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, as well as the state Democratic and Republican parties.

Statewide education groups like the California School Boards Association, the California State PTA and the California Federation of Teachers also have joined the No on 88 campaign.

Anti-tax advocates have characterized Proposition 88 as an attack on Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 measure that limits increases in California's property taxes, which many view as sacred in California.

While the measure would collect an additional $50 from homeowners across the state, the Legislature would ultimately decide how the money would be distributed. That could mean that homeowners in Santa Clara County would pay a parcel tax that would fund smaller classes and additional textbooks in Oakland or Los Angeles, but not locally.

Prop. 89 News Articles

The ‘clean’ campaign finance idea grows, Arizona experience mixed as California considers Prop. 89
By John Wildermuth, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2006


Six years into its brave new world of publicly financed campaigns, Arizona's "clean money" elections system already is creaking with signs of age.

Backers of California's Proposition 89, which would provide $200 million a year for public financing of California candidates, point to the success of the Arizona system as an example of what could happen in California. But many of the political pros who work every day with the system have curbed their enthusiasm.

"On the whole, it has opened up the political process to a new pool of candidates,'' said Michael Frias, campaign director for the Arizona Democratic Party. "But we need to look and see where it can be improved.''

Some Republican leaders have harsher feelings about Arizona's public financing system.

"There are a lot of good things California and other states could pull from Arizona, but this isn't one of them,'' said Glenn Hamer, executive director of the Arizona Republican Party.

Critics complain that the spending limits set in Arizona's 1998 campaign finance initiative are too low and that the clean money rules give too much power to the five-member Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, which referees disputes involving campaign funding.

But voters who know about the public finance rules increasingly like the idea. Although it passed by 51 percent to 49 percent in 1998, a January survey done for the state commission found that 85 percent of those familiar with the system now believe it is either very or somewhat important to Arizona voters.

"It's much more popular than it was,'' said Todd Lang, executive director of the clean elections commission. "People see that it allows strong candidates who don't have access to special interest money to run competitive campaigns."

The commission's survey, however, found almost 50 percent of the electorate remained unfamiliar with the system.

By any measure, the 1998 initiative has taken plenty of special interest money out of statewide and legislative campaigns. Participation is voluntary, but the prospect of having the state pay all campaign expenses, combined with strict limits on private fundraising, are persuading more and more people to "run clean."

Prop 89 - Secret plan alleged on campaign financing
By Jim Sanders, The Sacramento Bee , September 19, 2006


A California Nurses Association publication indicates the group is pushing the Proposition 89 campaign-finance measure as a Trojan horse to get what it covets most: universal health care, opponents said Monday.

Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said the strategy basically was spelled out in a document that appeared on the nurses association Web site.

"They have a two-step process here," he said. "One is to eliminate the ability of business to communicate with the voters. The second step is to have government-run health care on the next ballot ... and deny voters the ability to hear the other side."

Proposition 89 would allow public financing of campaigns for state offices, an overhaul touted as a way to discourage undue influence by well-heeled special interests.

The measure, crafted by the CNA, is on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Chuck Idelson, spokesman for both the CNA and the Yes on Proposition 89 campaign, said the nurses group has supported universal health care for many years but that the campaign-finance initiative is not specifically linked to that goal.

Universal health care is a bitterly controversial concept to replace California's system of private health insurance with a state-run system to provide medical care to every resident.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced earlier this month that he will veto universal health care legislation, Senate Bill 840, which was sponsored by CNA.

Idelson joked about Monday's allegations of a Trojan horse in Proposition 89.

"So, this is the great secret that they've discovered -- that we believe in single-payer health care?" he said, laughing.

But Zaremberg and other leaders of the No on Proposition 89 campaign say the CNA document, "California Nurses, Clean Money and Fair Elections," is no laughing matter.

Opponents of the ballot measure contend that the CNA publication lends insight into why the group has spent more than $2 million thus far to qualify Proposition 89 for the Nov. 7 ballot and to launch an extensive campaign to pass it.

The 16-page document covers a wide range of nurse-related topics, but several pages tout an overhaul of campaign financing as a step toward achieving health care changes.

Prop. 90 News Articles

Prop 90 - Scope of property rights issue debated
By Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 2006


In November, voters will be asked to decide on Proposition 90, the so-called "Protect Our Homes Act" -- a property-rights initiative that would amend the state Constitution to limit the use of eminent domain

The initiative would make it impossible for cities or counties to seize land in order to eventually transfer the property to a different private owner, such as a shopping mall developer.

It would also require public agencies to compensate property owners for "regulatory takings" -- times when a government decision prevents a property owner from developing or using land. This could happen, for example, when a city puts land off-limits to developers in order to protect the environment.

And though supporters deny it, two nonpartisan organizations -- including the state Legislative Analyst's Office -- say the initiative may affect more than land. It might also cover intellectual property, such as patents affected by government actions.

Proponents almost exclusively talk about stopping cities from colluding with developers to take the homes and businesses of small property owners. Prop. 90, they say, is a reaction to the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed a Connecticut city to seize the home of Susette Kelo and others. The city wanted a different owner to build a hotel, condominiums and commercial space on the land.

Supporters of the initiative also point to what they say are local abuses of governments' use of eminent domain. For example, the city of Oakland last year seized two auto shops where a developer wanted to build a condominium project that will include some below market-rate housing.


Groups such as the California League of Conservation Voters say the initiative could increase the price that governments would have to pay to build things like roads and schools because of the new costs of reimbursing property owners. They also argue it could hamper cities' ability to regulate where development should happen.

The state Legislative Analyst's Office concluded the measure "could have a major effect on future state and local government policymaking and costs."

Under the initiative, governments would have to pay landowners if they set limits on how tall buildings or homes could be built. The analyst's office said the initiative could force governments to pay landowners after establishing limits on pollution levels or high apartment prices.

Yes on Prop. 90 campaign spokesman Kevin Spillane said the legislative analyst's report was full of "wild-haired distortions" and pointed to overwhelming public support for curbing eminent domain powers.

A Field Poll released last month showed Prop. 90 ahead, especially among Republicans, although only about 28 percent of voters were aware of the initiative. Prop. 90 has been endorsed by the California Republican Party and 42 Republican state legislators.

The most high profile Prop. 90 supporter is New York real estate investor Howie Rich, a Libertarian linked with organizations that have given millions of dollars to as many as 19 initiative drives under way this year in a dozen states. Most seek to expand property rights or limit government spending; some have been disqualified for various reasons.

"This is an ideological thing," Rich said. "I believe that property rights in many respects have been taken away from many property owners."

Organizations that Rich leads have given $1.77 million so far to the Yes on Prop. 90 campaign. In addition, an early contribution of $600,000 came from Montanans in Action, a new political group that has not disclosed its donors. Another $200,000 came from a longtime funder of the libertarian Reason Foundation think tank.

On the other side is a coalition of opponents, including cities and counties, environmental groups and the banks that underwrite redevelopment bonds. Collectively they have given at least $1.5 million to fight Prop. 90, according to the most recent campaign filings.

The biggest chunk -- $755,000 -- came from municipalities, primarily through the League of California Cities. Environmental groups, led by the Nature Conservancy, have given more than $300,000. The California Public Securities Association, which represents banks involved in municipal finance, gave $400,000, the single biggest donation.

James Cervantes, the association's chairman, accused Prop. 90's backers of being "intellectually dishonest" for hyping the eminent domain angle and downplaying the wider potential impacts.

Spillane countered that the opposition is driven largely by people who benefit from abusing eminent domain.

"Their campaign is funded by people who make money from taking your home or small business," he said.



This page was first published on September 27, 2006 | Last updated on October 25, 2006
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