Bouquets and Brickbats

It’s time to derail the anonymous money train

October 19, 2012 

Forget the binders; we have file cabinets full of brickbats for the barrage of negative and deceptive campaigning that continues at nearly every level. Even worse, voters sometimes don’t know who’s behind the ads.

As the Sacramento Bee recently reported, a loophole in California law allows nonprofit organizations to contribute to campaigns without identifying the actual donors. According to the Bee, nonprofits can shield donors, as long as their contributions weren't earmarked for specific purposes.

Case in point: This week, the Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership contributed $11 million to the defeat of Proposition 30, Gov. Brown’s proposed tax increase, and Proposition 32, which, among other provisions, would prohibit labor unions from using automatic payroll deductions to help fund political campaigns.

According to its website, Americans for Responsible Leadership “seeks to promote the general welfare by educating the public on concepts that advance government accountability, transparency, ethics, and related public policy issues.” Apparently, ARL doesn’t believe that rules of accountability and transparency apply to its own operations.

It’s obviously too late for this election, but it’s time for the state of California to close this egregious loophole.

Forging a compromise in A.G.

Here’s something we never thought we’d see: A long-running brouhaha over development of apartments at the corner of Elm Street and The Pike in Arroyo Grande ended amicably last week.

By removing a proposed commercial building and replacing it with a pocket park, developers made the mixed-use project more palatable to city officials and neighboring residents.

“You all deserve applause because this was a joint effort between a willing developer and a willing community,” said City Councilman Tim Brown. Along with a round of applause, we offer never-say-never bouquets to all involved in crafting this compromise.

Thank you Anne Wyatt, et al.

We toss a bibliophile’s bouquet to former county planning commissioner Anne Wyatt for her generous, $28,237 gift to the Friends of the Cambria Library. With that donation, the group met its goal of raising $1.4 million to help fund a new library that will double the size of the current location.

Wyatt and all the other donors and fundraisers who have been raising money for this worthy cause are making a contribution that will serve Cambria for generations to come.

Libraries fill a void that can never be replaced by e-books or the internet: Libraries provide a community gathering place where people can connect with their neighbors, take part in reading groups, listen to guest lecturers or simply curl up in a comfy chair with a good book.

If you’d like to contribute to the fundraising effort, it’s not too late. Friends of the Cambria Library will continue to collect donations to cover cost overruns and to upgrade the new library’s interior. For information on how to help, go to www.cambri   afol.org  .

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