Slick as Oil: Despite Opposition from City Officials, Oil Company Slides in Controversial Ballot InitiativeSubmitted by jbrown on Thu, 02/25/2010 - 18:29
The independent oil company Venoco Inc. is banking on (quite literally) citizens of the city of Carpinteria to pass a ballot initiative funded by the oil company to essentially run a 10-story oil derrick round-the-clock right near a residential neighborhood with 225 homes. Venoco Inc. is based in Denver but it also operates an oil storage facility in the small coastal city of Carpinteria. So why is the oil company spending so much to get the ballot initiative passed? Michael Hiltzik from the LA Times reports that if passed, the initiative would exempt the company from the “the city's industrial development and environmental rules” and city officials won’t have much say in the matter when Venoco Inc. overrides city-requirements that industrial developments face review and regulations regarding noise and pollution will also not apply. Venoco has already spent more than $155,000, which may not seem like a lot, but it is an initiative solely for the municipal ballot of a small city. Hiltzik sees the efforts of Venoco Inc. as a disquieting direction for the state:
A new study released about the effects of high speed rail, which voters passed through Proposition 1A last November, may worry some airports who could lose travelers once the trains are up and running. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and is expected to cost over $40 billion. Estimates show that it is possible that this new system of travel could end up costing the three Bay Area airports 6 million passengers each year. Mercury News reports, “San Jose would be hit hardest, according to consultants at SH&E, a Virginia-based aviation firm the Metropolitan Transportation Commission contracted to study the bullet train's impact on Bay Area airports.
Airport executives, Bay Area officials and transportation experts will review the report Friday.”
It is also estimated that these three airports may have to reduce operations between 5-9 percent. That being said, the airports have been supportive of the rail project even if they have to change their focus to longer routes since some customers may be lost to the conveniences offered by train. It is expected that high speed rail will make the trip betweeen San Francisco and L.A. only 2 1/2 hours.
As we relayed here, a ballot measure that would have scaled back government worker pensions was suspended after failing to raise sufficient funds for signature-gathering. The initiative known as the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility had hoped to bank on the support of GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman, as well as Gov. Schwarzenegger, as both voiced support for cutting public employee pension costs. But both Whitman and the governor backed away from supporting the ballot, which the foundation hoped to steam forward not only from vocal support but funds as well from the two prominent Republicans. The president of the foundation, Marcia Fritz, told the Sacramento Bee that $2 million would have been necessary to gather signatures and was disappointed by the lack of support: “The governor felt he'd be a hindrance to us. Meg is not supporting us. That's pretty much it."
It is likely that Republicans feared that such a ballot would mobilize unions and inspire more liberals to turn out and vote, which would perhaps affect Whitman’s chances of securing the governor’s seat. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Schwarzenegger and Whitman from talking up support, but to the Foundation’s dismay, that was the extent of their help in the end.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission created by Proposition 11, which grants the power to draw legislative districts into the hands of the citizen-backed commission, is on its way to moving forward, despite criticism from Democratic leaders who want to back an initiative that would return redistricting privileges to the Legislature. More details have emerged about how the commission was able to garner a wider applicant pool at the close of the application period. The Capitol Weekly reports that the State Auditor’s office was given not nearly enough funds to complete its delegated tasks and that once it became apparent that minorities were poorly represented, much of the money the office did possess was spent on a campaign to encourage more diverse applicants. They contracted with Ogilvy Public Relations in order to begin the campaign and build a web site.
Towards the end of the application deadline, there was a disproportionate number of minorities who applied and the effort was mostly funded by nine different grants from the James Irvine Foundation. However, only certain minority groups were targeted in calculated moves to attract a very small segment. The Weekly details the group effort from very disparate interests that came together to give the campaign momentum towards the end that was in many ways like a political campaign, although the auditor’s office was in communication with the range of efforts from multiple interests.
A summary of how the commission came together is also available in the Daily News.
Attorney General Jerry Brown has officially reworded the description of Proposition 17 after facing pressure from opponents of the measure who contend that the initiative would unfairly raise rates for thousands of Californian drivers. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that consumer advocate Henry Rosenfield criticized Brown’s original description because it failed to inform voters that their premiums could be raised if enacted. The new description of Proposition 17 now mentions that it "will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who do not have a history of continuous insurance coverage."
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