Author Archives: Jon Brooks

Group That Gave Huge Donation Against Brown Tax Measure Led By Anti-Union Activist

by Will Evans, California Watch

The Arizona group that dumped $11 million into California’s ballot measure melee this week is led by a Republican activist who calls labor unions “the parasite that is killing our jobs.”

Robert Graham, a candidate for Arizona Republican Party chairman, heads Americans for Responsible Leadership, a little-known group that delivered $11 million to a committee fighting a tax increase on November’s ballot and supporting a measure that would weaken the political clout of unions. The money will either go toward opposing Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, or supporting Proposition 32, which would ban the use of payroll-deducted dues for political purposes.

Americans for Responsible Leadership was formed last year by three Arizona businessmen, including Graham. The other directors are Eric Wnuck, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in the Republican primary in a 2010 congressional race, and Steve Nickolas, a bottled water entrepreneurContinue reading

Attack Ad Says Eric Mar is From Mars, David Lee is From San Francisco

Here at the Election Funhouse, we’ve seen a lot of over-the-top political ads. But this one paid for by the San Francisco Association of Realtors in support of District 1 supervisorial candidate David Lee — and distinctly not in support of incumbent Eric Mar — may be over the top and back around to the other side.

You don’t need an advanced degree in semiotics to get the drift of the message: that Eric Mar is an alien life form sent to the San Francisco Richmond district in order to ruin the lives of kids to the point they have been forced into the streets in roving, dirty-faced packs, suitable as extras in the children’s version of “The Road Warrior.”


The left-leaning Bay Guardian, which has endorsed Mar with some reservations, has published a series of articles about this, with Executive Editor Tim Redmond suggesting the ad is homophobic, among other things…

The voice-over announces that Mar is famous “for suggesting that his meetings be held in the the hot tub of a local YMCA” — while a photo shows three apparently naked men cozying up around a big flume of steam. Ah — Mar is linked to a steamy male bath scene! Eeew.

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Movie Theater Chain Lines Up Against Richmond Soda Tax

No on N, Richmond soda tax billboard

Billboard (Photo: Kristin Farr)

Cinemark – owner of the Century movie theater line – has jumped into the debate over Richmond’s proposed tax on sugary beverages, known as Measure N.

Last quarter, the company contributed more than $107,000 in non-monetary contributions against the measure, from Jul 15 to Sep 30, according to KQED News Associate Richmond Confidential.

Rachel de Leon of Richmond Confidential visited the only movie theater in town, Century Hilltop Sixteen, to see how some of the money is being spent. “I saw that the employees behind the concession stands were wearing ‘No on Measure N’ t-shirts, and there were several large posters hanging up saying ‘No on Measure N’ and listing off why this would be harmful to businesses.”

The theater also plays an anti-soda tax trailer before movies begin. So far, the “No On ‘N'” campaign has spent more than $2 million fighting the measure.

Listen to the story:

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Read the full Richmond Confidential report here

Watch PBS Frontline’s ‘The Choice’

After dozens of original interviews and nearly a year of production, Frontline’s two-hour documentary The Choice 2012 goes behind the spin and the slogans to look at who the men running for president really are.

Watch The Choice 2012 on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Two of the documentary’s producers are answering questions in a live chat starting Wednesday morning at 10:30am, PT. Join them live:

The chat has three segments:

10:30-11am: Audience questions for the filmmakers.

11-11:30am: A conversation between the filmmakers and the biographers.

11:30-noon: The biographers discuss the candidates and take your questions on the race.

Quick Read: Chevron Spends Big on Richmond City Council Election

Chevron Corp. has put $1.2 million into a campaign committee backing three candidates for City Council. A California Form 460 submitted to the City Clerk on Friday shows the energy giant’s contribution to a committee called “Moving Forward.” The committee is described in the form as a “coalition of labor unions, small business, public safety and firefighters associations,” but all of the $1.2 million donated to the committee this year has come from Chevron, which operates a major refinery in the city. The committee reports that it has just over $1 million in cash on hand, suggesting that much of the spending is still to come between now and the Nov. 6 election.

Read more at:

Will San Franciscans Vote to Move Their Water Supply?

Lauren Sommer from KQED Science has a report up on San Francisco ballot measure F, which would “require the public utilities commission to draw up a plan, at the cost of $8 million, for draining the reservoir and finding new water storage. In 2016, that plan would go before San Francisco voters.”

Here’s the audio, below. You can read the text version here.

Consumer Group Fighting Insurance Rates Draws Fire

By Will Evans, The Bay Citizen

A consumer group that has reaped millions of dollars in fees from insurance companies thanks to a state initiative it wrote is facing a new wave of criticism from Democratic and Republican political consultants and lawmakers.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Consumer Watchdog leaders deliver signatures for health insurance measure in May. (Consmer Watchdog campaign/Flickr)

Critics note that the advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, profits from the special insurance regulation process it not only created, but dominates. The consultants argue that the group is trying once again to use a ballot initiative to generate more revenue.

“It’s one of the all-time great scams,” said Republican consultant Rob Stutzman, who is working with an opposition research firm but wouldn’t say who is paying for the effort.

Other consumer advocates defend the system and the group.

“Insurance companies do not like effective advocates,” said Mark Savage, senior attorney for Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports.

Scrutiny of Consumer Watchdog has intensified as it battles Proposition 33, an industry-backed measure on car insurance, and pushes its own proposition for the 2014 ballot, which would create similar regulation of health insurance rates that could earn the group even more money. Continue reading