Not Much ‘New Leadership’ in Whitman’s Anti-Poizner Ads
Daffy Duck would call it “despicable.”
It’s possible George “Don’t Call Me Daffy” Deukmejian, the choice of California’s Capitol for greatest governor in recent memory, would use the same word — accompanied by far less spittle — to describe one of the recent television ads created by Meg Whitman attacking her GOP gubernatorial opponent, Steve Poizner.
Particularly egregious – and scoring quite high on the Hypocrisy Meter — is Whitman’s 15-second ad saying Poizner can’t be trusted, presumably by Republicans, because he “joined with liberal unions to weaken Prop. 13 and raise your property taxes.”
In California, speaking ill of, let alone weakening, Proposition 13 is the political equivalent of licking the third rail. Particularly in a GOP primary where the rightest candidate is, wrongly, almost universally elected.
So what could Poizner possibly have been thinking?
Actually, Poizner was thinking the same thing as former Gov. Pete Wilson, the chair of Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign. The greatest governor in recent memory, Whitman calls the 76-year-old Marine.
Poizner was also thinking the same thing as California Chamber of Commerce CEO Allan Zaremberg and Bill Hauck, head of the California Business roundtable.
Poizner was also in sync with the president of the California State PTA, the state president of the American Association of Retired Persons, the past president of the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Dan Terry, president of the California Professional Firefighters – presumably one of the “liberal unions” weakening Proposition 13.
Poizner was also thinking the same thing as Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, who spent more than $3 million of his own money “to weaken Prop 13.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings spent $1 million to weaken Proposition 13 and John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, kicked down $520,000. Steve Kirsch, the CEO of Propel, gave $250,000 to weaken Prop 13. Sun Microsystems dropped $100,000. Richard Riordan, the mayor of Los Angeles at the time, gave $200,000 to weaken Prop 13, as well.
So hell-bent to weaken Prop 13 was Poizner that he wrote a $200,000 check himself.
What gruesome emasculation of California’s sainted property tax-capping law was this?
Proposition 39, which lowered the approval threshold for local school construction bonds from 66 percent to 55 percent. Voters approved the initiative 53 percent to 47 percent on the November 2000 ballot. It mirrored Proposition 26, on the March ballot, which was defeated.
Contribution reports for the “yes” side, to which all the aforementioned individuals contributed, show the financial involvement of “liberal unions” to be rather small.
In a campaign that raised and spent $31 million, the largest union contributor was the California School Employees at $35,000 – $15,000 less than Chevron gave and one-third of the $100,000 the California Business Industry Association contributed.
The California Teachers Association gave a little over $1 million to Proposition 26 in the primary but that is dwarfed by the $21.9 million the group spent to defeat Proposition 38, a school voucher initiative that was on the same ballot with Proposition 39. The school employees spent $16.5 million against Proposition 38 as well.
One likely reason Poizner elected to “weaken Proposition 13” in 2000 is because of his firsthand expertise involving local schools.
He spent one year as an actual teacher in an actual classroom. Perhaps he was lucky enough to sweat off a few pounds spending May in a poorly insulated portable classroom.
Driving the needle even further up on the Hypocrisy Meter, an investigation by The Sacramento Bee found the first evidence of the 53-year-old Whitman registering to vote was in San Mateo County in September 2002.
Not only did Poizner find the time to vote in November 2000, he put a sizable amount of his own money where his mouth was in support of a change in law that significantly improves the ability of school districts to meet their capital needs.
And he’s being criticized for it by someone who, for 30 years, couldn’t bestir themselves to find the time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. one day in June and one day in November to cast a ballot?
If Whitman had bothered to vote, would she have voted against Proposition 39?
Or is the ad simply red meat tossed at the slavering mouths of the GOP right. What worse crime against Republican humanity could Poizner commit than stabbing Proposition 13 in the heart and shacking up with “liberal unions” at the same time?
Whatever its intent, ads like this one on Proposition 39 don’t exactly buttress Whitman’s claim that she brings new leadership to California.
With respect: This is the same old disingenuous crap candidates have vomited onto the airwaves for decades.
And, finally, in response to the quote of Whitman’s communications director Tucker Bounds in The Sacramento Bee saying the “conversation” between Whitman and Poizner “should be longer and more in-depth.”
That would be swell.
No doubt the 30 second ads will be far more substantive.
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