Campaign Ads by Bradley
Your story (May 19) examining the Bradley campaign’s advertisements did a fair job of explaining in some detail the factual basis for our attacks on the Deukmejian Administration’s sorry record of dealing with the insurance crisis and threat of toxic pollution. In light of this, I don’t see how you came to the conclusion that charges in our ads were not fully documented.
Our ads do not say that Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed every toxic waste bill the Legislature put on his desk. We simply state that he vetoed 21 major measures, including (as your story mentions) a ban on the disposal of liquid toxins in landfills, a bill to improve drinking water quality and remove toxins from underground water supplies, and a major reorganization of the state bureaucracy to improve coordination of toxic waste disposal.
As for the bills Deukmejian has signed, yes, he did permit a $100-million bond issue to clean up hazardous waste sites to go on the ballot, but how much of that money has been spent? According to the auditor-general, a measly $800,000. Yes, he signed legislation to establish permitting standards for underground storage tanks, but he has also twice vetoed funding to hire the people to clean up underground storage tanks leaking contaminants into our groundwater. Of the 60 toxic sites needing cleanup that appeared on the original 1983 state Superfund list, 48 sites still pose a toxic threat to the public, according to the auditor-general, and 178 sites have been added.
Your story also questions our criticism of Deukmejian for blocking Sen. Alan Robbins’ 1984 bill to improve the way the Insurance Department handles consumer complaints, because Deukmejian signed Robbins’ legislation when it was introduced again in 1985. You failed to note the significant difference between the two bills. The bill Deukmejian helped kill would have required the Insurance Department to tell the consumer within 15 days what steps it is taking to address his or her complaint. The bill he signed merely requires the department to notify the consumer that his complaint had been received. Consumers get enough form letters; the original Robbins bill mandated the kind of action against irresponsible insurance companies that Deukmejian has been reluctant to take.
Moreover, the auditor-general recently reported that it took the Department of Insurance an average of 89 days to process more than half of the 14,000 consumer complaints received in 1984-85. As a result, “the public did not receive prompt protection from unfair insurance practices,” the report stated. The bill Deukmejian signed offers no hope that this ever-worsening insurance situation will change, but the bill he fought would have put the insurance commissioner’s feet to the fire.
It’s an unfortunate fact of political life that so much of a campaign’s message is reduced to 30- or 60-second commercials. We wouldn’t feel comfortable broadcasting such serious charges against Deukmejian if we weren’t able to supply news reporters with ample documentation to substantiate them. We invite the public and the media to go beyond our ads and scrutinize the fruits of our research. The more you dig into the record, the more you will fully comprehend the failure of Deukmejian’s leadership.
MARY D. NICHOLS
Nichols is campaign manager of Friends of Tom Bradley.