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California’s ballot initiative process has gotten a bad name. For lots of good reasons. Hot button issues are put on the ballot to draw voters to the polls, a cheap reliable get-out-the-vote tactic that accelerates partisan bickering. Or politicians use the initiatives to cover expenses, allying themselves with one idea or another as a fundraising scheme.
But why should politicians have all the fun?

The week, SFWeekly columnist Matt Smith provides a lovely and straight-forward example of just how easy it is to corrupt the entire practice. All you need is a bit of patience, some nerve, a bit of money to hire petition workers, and an ability to take a heart-string issue – preserving the city’s big, elaborate movie theaters – and turn it into your own pet charity. The issue isn’t without it supporters; it came up again and again in last year’s mayoral town meetings.
Smith writes up the plans of one Greg Stephens a self-proclaimed “struggling filmmaker” and his “Save Our Theaters” initiative, Prop L, which will set aside $10.5 million for a nonprofit to be run by – guess who? – Stephens! Ballsy, no?
What would the organization created by Prop L do? Buy the city’s large stand-alone theaters, restore them, showcase independent films, and, oh yeah, fund the work of other “struggling filmmakers.” Hmmmmm. Struggling, perhaps, like Stephens? Not for long, apparently. Apart from the usual oversight of non-profits, Stephens theater-saving organization would be pretty much free to spend the money as it sees fit.
Well, I got an idea. If Stephens wants to stop “struggling”, he should consider getting back in the SL and driving down the PCH to Santa Monica. Don’t stop until you see the breast implants, dude. Guys who think like this do well in Hollywood.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:03 PM | Permalink

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