Mucho dinero

Oct 12, 2012

The ballot initiative campaigns roll on as the money rolls in -- with enormous amounts coming from a relatively few sources.


From Will Evans at California Watch: "The top 10 donors to November's state ballot measures – a smattering of extremely wealthy people, powerful unions and large corporations – have dumped more than $150 million into the fight so far, according to campaign finance tracker"


"The mega-donors include politically opposed siblings, a 91-year-old car insurance magnate, a conservative group that keeps its donors secret and a teachers union that has outspent every other special interest in the last decade. tracks the top donors of each ballot initiative on its Voter's Edge website."


"At the top of the list this year is civil rights attorney Molly Munger, who has given nearly $30 million of her own fortune to pass Proposition 38 [PDF], which would raise taxes to fund K-12 education. Her father is a billionaire business partner of Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway."


The already bitter showdown between incumbent Democratic Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman heated up still further -- much to the delight of a rowdy crowd.


From Harrison Sheppard in the LA Daily News: "In the midst of what has already been a rough campaign, things got testy and a little physical between Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman at a debate Thursday at Pierce College."


"During a heated exchange between the two over a federal immigration bill, Sherman got up close to Berman's face, threw his arm roughly around his shoulders and challenged "You want to get into this?"


"The rowdy crowd started cheering and shouting, as a sheriff's deputy and a debate organizer stepped in between them to prevent an escalation. Berman's campaign immediately seized on the incident, sending out a 22-second YouTube snippet and a press release headlined "Brad Sherman attempts to start fight at college debate."


Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, a long-time critic of the city's public pension system, is launching a signature campaign to put a pension-reform measure before voters next spring.


From the LA Weekly's Patrick Range McDonald: "On Friday morning, Riordan will file papers with the City Clerk so he can start a signature-gathering campaign and ultimately place a pension reform initiative on the May 2013 ballot. The former mayor says that if voters approve the measure, the city will save "hundreds of millions of dollars" every year by 2017 and an upwards of a billion dollars by 2020."


"In an exclusive interview with L.A. Weekly, Riordan explains that his dramatic move, which will pit his campaign against powerful city employee unions and City Hall politicians, is to "prevent the city of Los Angeles from going bankrupt, and preventing the closing of our parks and severe damages to services. In short, it's to stop us from becoming a third-world city."


"Riordan calls his plan the "Fair Share Pension Reform Act of 2013." Friend and billionaire Eli Broad and attorney David Fleming are helping with the effort."


Molly Munger, the Pasadena attorney who is rapidly becoming a very sharp thorn in Gov. Brown's side, isn't backing off on her attacks on Brown's tax initiative.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "The Democratic governor now faces a serious threat to the linchpin of his longer-term budget plan. Brown has been particularly frustrated by attorney Molly Munger's ad, which calls his campaign "misleading" and uses an animated sequence to depict politicians taking money from a schoolhouse."


"Her rival measure, Proposition 38, would hike taxes on all but the poorest income earners to help schools and initially the state budget. Though hers has lagged Brown's initiative in polls throughout the year, Munger still believes she will win come Election Day."

"As counties issued mail ballots this week, the Munger ads sent chills through education circles. School districts have placed big bets that Brown's initiative would pass in November, planning to eliminate school days and cut programs if voters reject Proposition 30."
Politically, San Francisco is in turmoil just weeks before the November election, as the fallout from the reinstatement of ousted Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi intensifies.
From the Chronicle's John Coté: "Since the Board of Supervisors' vote Tuesday that reinstated Mirkarimi, critics of the sheriff have called for him to be recalled or to relinquish some authority, heated rhetoric has arced across the city's political spectrum, and Lee's brand of City Hall cooperation and consensus governance appears threatened just weeks before the Nov. 6 election."

"The vitriol and the hate has intensified because the leadership of this city is not calling for civility," said former Mayor Art Agnos, a staunch Mirkarimi supporter. "It's created an atmosphere in this city that is reminding me of the Dan White murder period."


"White, a former supervisor, gunned down colleague Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1978 in City Hall during a particularly tense and politically divisive time in San Francisco.

Lee's spokeswoman, Christine Falvey, declined to comment on Agnos' contention but pointed to Lee's track record as a consensus builder."





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