In California, 'S' stands for SEIU

What does the "S" stand for in Proposition S, the $243-million phone tax on the Feb. 5 ballot? Some political backers want voters to think it stands for "safety" because they've loaded their campaign mailers with photos of firefighters and police officers.

It could stand for SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which has poured $250,000 into the campaign -- just weeks after City Hall gave members a hefty pay raise.

In reality, the City Council voted to make it S, although never explaining why.

Who's going to vote for this tax?

The brain trust in charge of the Prop. S campaign thinks it will fare well among black voters, Latinos, Democrats and Republican women.

Campaign mailers submitted to the city Ethics Commission were accompanied by a cover letter stating that four fliers were each tailored to appeal to one of the groups. Proposition S political consultant Steve Barkan said the letter should have stated that the campaign is also targeting Republican men.

Each of the mailers has the same front, with pictures of firefighters and 911 operators dutifully taking calls. But things look different on the final page. The mailer to Republicans featured the smiling mug of former Mayor Richard Riordan -- Get it? He's a Republican! -- and a photo of Police Chief William J. Bratton.

The version for Latinos is written partly in Spanish and has a picture of Villaraigosa, L.A.'s top Latino pol, as he chats up -- surprise! -- a police officer. Black voters received images of a half dozen politicians, including African American council members Bernard Parks, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson.

And Democrats? They got large photos of Bratton and Fire Chief Douglas Barry. Bo-ring!


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