California voters will find Proposition 29 on their ballot this June.
Supporters bill it as important to cancer research and a sound investment by Californians for California. Opponents highlight some of the more spectacular problems with the measure at their website No On 29.
Among them, Prop 29 raises annual taxes on Californians by $735,000,000 while failing to address the current $10,000,000,000 deficit the state enjoys. The measure circumvents requirements of the state constitution that 40% of all new tax revenues go to schools. Adding insult to injury, nothing in the measure requires a single dime from Prop 29 to be spent in California. It just creates a slush fund on the backs of California taxpayers for those controlling it to spend however they choose anywhere in the country.
Problems are already surfacing and begin with two prime players.
Don Perata served in the California State Assembly and the California State Senate where he was President pro tempore for 4 years. He began his political career by leaving teaching for a seat on the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County. He got out of elected politics and began “consulting” after he lost a 2010 race for Mayor of Oakland.
Ignacio De La Fuente was a City Council Member in Oakland, eventually becoming President of that body. He stepped down when he became Vice Mayor of Oakland in 2009. De La Fuente is a union official serving as International VP for the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics, and Allied Workers International Union, AFL-CIO. He is also a co-chair of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, overseeing the City’s Coliseum-Arena complex and three professional sports franchises.
What do these two politicians, Prop 29 and the Oakland Coliseum all have to do with one another?
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting Perata paid De La Fuente nearly $40,000 from Proposition 29’s campaign fund while he was simultaneously lobbying that councilman on behalf of a client who wanted to run Oakland’s sports arena. In return, De La Fuente was to help generate support among labor groups for Prop 29. De La Fuente never disclosed the payments on his statement of outside earnings as a councilman and head of the Coliseum authority. When asked whether he saw anything wrong taking money to work for someone who’s lobbying him, he said “He doesn’t see an issue.”
The potential conflict is that Perata is also working as a lobbyist for SMG, one of three companies vying for the contract to manage the Coliseum for the next 10 years. Further, Prop 29 campaign disclosure forms show that Californians for a Cure, the group leading the charge to pass Prop 29, owes Perata’s committee about $300,000. That means that people who donated thinking their money was going to groups like the American Heart Association are actually paying off loans to fund lobbying payments made to political cronies! Per the Chronicle, “Perata also denied any ulterior motives, calling De La Fuente “a close and dear friend” but adding, “I do not see a conflict of interest.””
Prop 29 needs to go. California should Vote “NO” on 29. It will not help cure cancer and it will harm California and Californians. In addition, Perata and De La Fuente should be fired, recalled or whatever else can be done to stop the havoc they are wreaking on their city and state. If those in charge act this badly while it’s just a ballot proposition, consider their actions should it become law and put $750,000,000 in the hands of men like Perata and De La Fuente to spend as they wish.
We all want a cure for cancer. But Prop 29 is not the answer. Nor are men like Perata and De La Fuente. California deserves better. That’s my proposition.