“FOR SALE TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER”: So goes one of the “Yes on 89” ads, featuring a photo of the California Capitol. It might as well be a picture of the White House or U.S. Capitol Building. Today, we take part in the most corrupt enterprise in the history of the country. We close our eyes to reality, we believe everything we learned in civics classes, and we vote.

More than $400 million has been thrown into the battle, pro and con, over California’s ballot initiatives, making the election a virtual PR agents’ full employment act. Nationally, about $2 billion is being spent on elections and this isn’t even the big enchilada of electoral corruption, a presidential race.

In California, the wonderful Big Oil people who brought you high gas prices (but cut them as the election approached) have spent $90 million trying to tell you that Prop 87 would be bad for you.

In reality, the proposed California tax would hurt Big Oil’s bottom line, but not much. It would, however, fund alternative energy programs, which we badly need.

Lo and behold, Big Oil’s TV propaganda campaign seems to be working. According to polls, people apparently believe this avalanche of baloney, because Prop 87 has lost its early support.

Prop 87 is on its way to becoming the most expensive referendum in U.S. history, racking up over $150 million in a war for your vote. The initiative may or may not be a good thing, but getting your information about it from ads only slightly different from beer commercials, and created by the same ad agencies, isn’t anything civics books recommend.

As for Prop 89, involving public campaign financing and spending limits, we have some of the same people opposing it, including Big Oil and a litany of corporations used to big spending to promote or defeat initiatives they dislike.

According to the California Nurses Association, sponsor of Prop 89, it would restrict campaign contributions from corporations and unions, limit corporations from spending more than $10,000 on initiatives, ban contributions from lobbyists (you can see how much they hate this baby), “provide limited public funds to qualified candidates who want to serve their constituents free from obligation to private donors,” and provide that “lawbreakers would be removed from office or jailed.” (This is really getting radical, eh?)

Well, you can see why the corporations would be against anything like this that smacks of good government.

In favor of Prop 89, besides the nurses, are the League of Women Voters, AARP (American Association of Retired People), Sierra Club, retired teachers, and other selfish interests. You’d think it would be a cinch to win, but at this point the issue is in serious doubt.

Hey, I voted and you should too. But not based on TV hucksters’ scare tactics. Then back needed reforms so we can get back to the democracy we read about in civics classes.

COOL FRANK FROST: Back in 1972, Frank Frost won the 1st District supervisorial seat after spending a piddling $11,000 or so. And that was for both the primary and runoff. His newspaper ads featured a bulldozer. Frank was against rampant growth. In fact, he and fellow candidate Jim Slater, running in the 3rd District, were arrested for trespassing when they protested a Goleta development.

Ah yes, a time when candidates had convictions (in that case, both kinds).

In the current 2nd District race, Janet Wolf has raised $447,700 in the runoff to be decided today, and Dan Secord $457,000. As usual, the issue is development and whether the Board of Supervisors will continue with a 3-2 pro-growth majority, with Wolf on the short end, or with a 4-1 pro-growth majority, with Secord.


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