Simple Version of Palisades Drilling Measure Is OKd
Voter pamphlets in Los Angeles will contain a second, simpler description of the rival November initiatives on Occidental Petroleum’s oil project in Pacific Palisades, the City Council decided Friday over the objections of drilling foes.
Ordinarily, the voter pamphlets include only the official language of ballot measures, often in legalese, and arguments submitted by the campaigns that are sponsoring and fighting the measures.
But in recent years, a second version of some city ballot measures--written to be understood by voters with eighth-grade reading skills--has at times been included. In this case, a citizens committee prepared the simpler wording.
Under a city policy to promote the use of plain language free of political leaning, the City Council is allowed to decide only whether the simplified versions should be published in the voter pamphlets. But the council is not empowered to change the wording.
Two Opposing Measures
The two measures on the Nov. 8 ballot are Proposition O, which would strip Occidental of permission to drill near Pacific Coast Highway beneath the Pacific Palisades cliffs, and Proposition P, which would allow the drilling project to go forward.
Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Marvin Braude are the chief sponsors of Proposition O. Occidental is the main force behind Proposition P, which would also set aside some taxes the city levies on oil drilling for toxic waste enforcement and police.
Opponents of Occidental, led by Yaroslavsky, argued that the simpler wording was prejudiced in favor of Occidental’s interests. But Yaroslavsky could not convince a majority of the council to go along with removing the simpler version from the ballot, even though a majority of the council’s members have endorsed the initiative that seeks to block Occidental.
Yaroslavsky also requested Friday that Los Angeles television station KCBS stop airing a 90-second campaign ad that promotes Proposition P but does not mention that most of the money for the ad came from Occidental.
Campaign disclosure reports show Occidental has contributed $360,000 of the $410,000 raised by the Los Angeles Public and Coastal Protection Committee, formed to push Proposition P. Because Occidental has donated about 87% of the total, Occidental and not the committee should be identified as the interest asking for votes, Yaroslavsky said.
Interpretation of Law
An attorney for the Proposition P campaign, Barry Fadem, released a statement Friday that says the law only requires Occidental to be named if it is deemed to be giving “all or nearly all” of the funds. Fadem said the contributions would have to exceed 90% to fall into that category.
The state Fair Political Practices Commission has not acted on this or complaints filed earlier by Yaroslavsky and his supporters. The commission also has not acted on a complaint filed this week by the Proposition P campaign that charges Yaroslavsky’s forces with numerous violations of the campaign reporting laws.
Meanwhile, over objections of Occidental’s attorneys, the South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted Friday to hold a public hearing before deciding on an 18-month extension to a construction permit for the drilling project.
The hearing was requested by No Oil Inc. President Roger Jon Diamond. An AQMD spokesman said the permit was originally granted in July, 1985, six months after the city approved the drilling plan, and expires Oct. 19.