Vote Smart – PACs Pour Money into CC, Looking to Influence the Election

There’s an old proverb that says “How sorry we should be if all our wishes were granted,” and in the case of our municipal election, this may prove true. Both the Culver City School Board and the Culver City City Council shifted their calendars to be on the ballot in November. Now they are looking at what will be the highest voter turnout in history, and the fact that there will be tens of thousands of voters in this election who have never voted for council or school board before.

With the pandemic preventing the kind of events that used to be ‘voter education’ of municipal choice, how do campaigns get the word out? Mostly importantly, how do voters choose?

Money is pouring into campaigns, for flyers, postcards and the like, and while most candidates are staying positive, the PACs are not. And Political Action Committees are popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

The newest PAC to get into the game is the Committee to Protect Culver City Homeowners – No on Measure RE. Unsurprisingly, they have quickly raised $56,000 from three donors; Culver Studios, Venice Pacific Investments, and NAIOP SoCal Commercial Real Estate Development Association. Since these are the kind of real estate interests who will have to pay if Measure RE goes into effect, it’s totally worth their time to invest in postcards, flyers and door-hangers to scare you into thinking it’s going to have some devastating effect on individual homeowners.  (It’s not.) The tag line on all this is that these companies could certainly afford to pay the tax if and when they are selling some multi-million dollars property in Culver City. It’s just the way the game is played – whatever amount of money they throw into the local election has been calculated as less than they would spend on the tax.

Mailers and postcards, which used to show up only in the last week before the election are now filling mail boxes on a daily basis, in recognition of the fact that many are voting early. The high tide on voter info is likely to crest at mid-October rather than early November.

Protect Culver City, the PAC that funded the petition that became Proposition B, is also amply funded by landlords who do not want to see any form of rent control. While the voices at the city council meetings have been from the smaller housing providers, “mom-and-pop” landlords, the money has been from the corporate interests. They have allied with the CCPOA (which is a union, not a PAC) to support candidates who they think will return the City Council to the pro-business flavor that it had in the 20th Century.

Dark blue “Defend Don’t Defund” door hangers are so abundant, some neighborhoods are getting re-tagged on a weekly basis. The Culver City Police Officers Association seems to have so much money to spend on the race, they can paper over their own paper. As an organization, they have a curious habit of making an argument against themselves; people spending this kind of money on a campaign to say that that they need money is contradiction. Voters are likely to notice that.

Next in the chute is Onward Culver City, which filed on September 29, 2020, but has no online presence as of yet. Quite possibly looking to confuse themselves with Culver City Forward, the Hackman Capital Partners funded non -profit that has Council member Thomas Small at the helm. In the same way the “Protect Culver City” linguistically rips off “Protect Culver City Renters,” it seems that Onward might like to be mistaken for Forward.

The only way out is through.

Just as ballot proposals are written to be confusing, so is campaign literature. Vote No on Yes/Vote Yes on No is an old joke that, sadly, still plays. There will be many voters choosing council members by just throwing darts, or skipping that section of the ballot because they don’t feel they have enough information to vote.

You can get accurate information about local elections. That is why local news is essential.

Vote smart.

Judith Martin-Straw




The Actors' Gang

1 Comment

  1. There is not one word about the merits of the issues. This op-ed only describes one person’s inaccurate view of where campaign money originates.

    Vote smart means vote cheap.

    Don’t argue the merits. It’s too confusing. Or so this op-ed implies.

    One solution is to read the actual language in the ordinances. Find out what is changing. Ask questions. Why is Measure RE on the ballot? Why is Measure B on the ballot? Why do people want a police department?

    It’s very simple, if one only looks at money. It’s really YOUR money.

    Measure RE increases transfer tax tables for mom & pop rental property owners all the way up to corporations. Will that reduce rents and prices we pay for goods and services?

    Measure B puts statewide rent control in place and leaves tenant protections alone. Let voters decide if they want the city budget expanded a million dollars for marginal improvement. Truly marginal improvements for a million dollars.

    And then there’s the police. Failure to fund the police department will have an adverse impact on public safety. Your pocketbook will suffer from higher insurance rates (if you can buy insurance) and theft of your own property, assuming you don’t lose your life to violent crime.

    Let’s explore the merits of the proposals and not worry about where the money for campaigns comes from. Your family’s budget and safety are on the ballot.

    This op-ed doesn’t mentioned Ground Game LA, an outside non-profit taking advantage of Citizens United loopholes to hide donor information to influence voters in Culver City.

    Choose wisely.

    No on RE. Yes on B. Vote for Eriksson, Vera and Wollin.

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