Saturday, May 06, 2006

Misleading Advertising In The Race For Governor

Back in 1974, when I was an L.A. Times political writer, I was driving to Sun City one day when I suddenly heard a new advertisement on the radio. It said that Ken Cory, an Orange County assemblyman then running for state controller, was
"the man the oil companies fear the most."

This cannot be, I thought to myself. It cannot possibly be that a lowly assemblyman is the man in all of California the oil companies fear the most.

Yet Cory was able to use that slogan to be elected State Controller, where he played around, fencing with the oil industry, for years, without achieving anything substantial.

I was reminded of that 30-year-old ad last night while watching television and seeing an ad touting State Treasurer Phil Angelides as supported by the police unions. "One hundred thousand" police in California support Angelides for governor, the ad said.

Angelides, a Democrat along with State Controller Steve Westly, is one of two major challengers to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bid for reelection.

But I have the same reaction to Angelides' police ad as I had to the Cory ad about the oil companies. It is simply not to be believed.

It is not to be believed that the average rank and file policeman or woman, as distinct from their police union endorsing in hopes of special treatment, would support the most liberal of the three candidates for governor, as Angelides appears to be.

It is well known that the police unions habitually support the highest bidder, the official who promises to be most subservient to their desires. This is bad politics for the people of California.

The prison guards union has also endorsed various candidates, and some of them, such as former Gov. Gray Davis, have been real turkeys. The prison guards have gained special salary increases and thwarted efforts to investigate official misconduct by guards in the prisons, including some brutal murders. Now, with the prisons in a mess, the guards union and compliant governors bear much of the responsibility. Schwazenegger, who also has had the guards support, has been one of the most compliant.

Angelides has less money to advertise than Westly and in recent polls Westly has led him in the Democratic primary race. My reaction to the police ad for Angelides is that it raises the question of what Angelides has promised the police union.

Almost whatever it is, it is bound not to be in accord with sound fiscal policy for California. Exorbitant police pensions contribute to budget shortfalls, and decisions are always being taken that fly in the face of sound discipline of police officers who commit transgressions. Just a few months ago, the Los Angeles Police Commission was paying off political debts when it decided not to identify the officers involved in suspicious shooting cases, reversing a 25-year policy.

The only answer to ads like the police union ad for Angelides is to vote for other candidates, in order to protect ourselves.

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