Bond Glut May Leave Cultural Institutions Outside Looking In
POLITICS by Howard Fine
Voters will consider the costliest set of bond measures ever on a single ballot this November, with more than $20 billion in statewide bonds and another $4 billion in local bonds.
With so many pressing measures at stake, including $168 million a year from a local property tax assessment to fund L.A.’s trauma care system, there may not be much enthusiasm for what could be considered non-essential: a $250 million bond measure to be funded with another property tax assessment for improvements to local cultural institutions.
Couldn’t this have been put off to another election, when conditions might be more favorable to garner the needed two-thirds vote?
Not necessarily, said County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “There’s no guarantee that the conditions in March of 2004 (the next time this measure could be placed on a countywide ballot) would be any better,” he said. “The projects are ready to move forward now.”
If the bond measure fails to get the two-thirds vote, projects like the $300 million renovation of the Natural History Museum and the $300-million-plus makeover of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would have to find other funding sources to make up the difference.
Last week’s SurveyUSA/KABC-TV (Channel 7) secession poll was yet another dose of bad news for San Fernando Valley cityhood advocates. The poll of 962 people in Los Angeles showed secession failing by a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent.
In the Valley, support for secession remained relatively constant, slipping only slightly to 57 percent in early August from 59 percent in May.
But in the rest of the city, support slipped sharply to 26 percent from 36 percent, while opposition surged to an overwhelming 69 percent.
“If these numbers are any indication, the battle is essentially over in the rest of the city,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior scholar at the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development. “The only question is whether secession will garner enough support in the Valley to keep the momentum for change going,” she said. If support in the Valley dips below 55 percent, that momentum would likely fade, she said.
The news for secession advocates may be even worse than this poll indicates. The office of one elected official who has not taken sides in the secession debate polled Valley residents recently and found that support for secession was only about 47 percent. That poll, though, had a smaller sample size and thus a larger margin of error.
Jeffe cautioned against reading too much into poll figures. “It’s one thing to respond to a telephone poll, quite another to actually go out and vote,” she said.
Lots of talk around town about a huge fundraiser for Gov. Gray Davis sometime next month at supermarket magnate and investor Ron Burkle’s Green Acres estate in Beverly Hills. Former President Bill Clinton is expected to headline the event.
A spokesman for the Davis campaign would neither confirm nor deny the rumors. But sources with ties to Davis said the fundraiser would likely be the single biggest campaign event in the final weeks of the re-election campaign. All that remains before the invitations go out, these sources say, is getting a free date on Clinton’s calendar. Clinton signed on this past April to advise Burkle’s investment firm, Yucaipa Cos.
It’s not as though the Davis campaign needs the money. Since taking office, Davis has raised $52 million for his re-election campaign and, as of June 30, had $31 million in the bank.
By contrast, Davis’ opponent, Republican businessman and investor Bill Simon, had a mere $5 million in the bank as of June 30.
Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or by e-mail at