Tag Archives: San Francisco Bay Guardian

Mercury Insurance Gave $25K to Greenlining Institute for Flip-Flop Prop 33 Endorsement


Consumer Advocates Call On Group To Withdraw Support For Measure That Would Raise Car Insurance Rates on Good Drivers

The nonprofit Greenlining Institute acknowledged in a San Francisco Bay Guardian story published today that it received a $25,000 donation from Mercury insurance company, and expects more for its work in support of Mercury-backed Proposition 33. Prop 33 is funded by Mercury insurance’s billionaire chairman George Joseph and would raise car insurance rates on good drivers who have a break in insurance coverage, even if they’re not driving.

In a letter, Consumer Watchdog urged Greenlining to reverse its decision to support Proposition 33. Greenlining opposed a nearly identical ballot measure proposed by Mercury insurance company in 2010, Prop 17.

Download the letter here

Read the San Francisco Bay Guardian story

“We are writing to urge you to reconsider your shocking support for Proposition 33 and the auto insurance redlining it seeks to legalize,” wrote Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield and Washington DC director Carmen Balber. “Greenlining purports to represent the very low-income drivers who will be hurt the most if Proposition 33 is approved next November, allowing insurance companies to surcharge Californians who stop driving for legitimate reasons and then choose to get back on the road.”

Prop 33 would overturn a 24-year-old law banning discriminatory practices by auto insurance companies that were brought to light in the 1987 California civil rights case, King v. Meese.

“The rampant practice of surcharging, or refusing to sell insurance to, people who were not previously insured was one of the most pernicious of the discriminatory techniques employed by the insurance industry,” said the letter. “In signing the ballot argument for Proposition 33, you have aligned yourself with George Joseph and Mercury Insurance, the most persistent partisans for the legalization of the old redlining tricks that made auto insurance inaccessible to low-income families and communities of color for decades.”

The letter notes that Proposition 33 targets Californians who stop driving for legitimate reasons:

  • When low-wage workers who commute by bus need to get a car in order to maintain their job, they will be surcharged by about 40% for auto insurance;
  • When immigrant drivers are finally able to obtain a California driver’s license and try to buy insurance, they will be forced to pay hundreds and possibly thousand of dollars more than the drivers who purchased insurance in the past, even though they are equally good drivers;
  • When drivers who have found it financially impossible to maintain uninterrupted insurance coverage turn to the auto insurance market in hopes of complying with the mandatory insurance law, they will face a financial penalty for being poor;
  • Those who cannot afford these massive surcharges will be exposed to penalties and seizure of their vehicles for failure to comply with the Financial Responsibility Law.

The Embarrassing State of SF’s City College

Over at the Bay Guardian, G.W. Schulz has a story about another investigation at City College.

The Guardian learned that just days before the November 2005 election, in which City College asked voters for $246.3 million in bond money to continue a series of capital works projects, the office of Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein received a letter from investigators requesting detailed information about a land transaction that took place in Chinatown earlier that year.

At least three of the school’s elected trustees don’t recall being informed by Chancellor Phil Day about the probe, setting off new concerns after we alerted officials about the letter, which the Guardian obtained. The DA’s Office is also investigating potential laundering of public funds into campaign donations by college officials in connection with that bond campaign.(SFBG 8/8/07)

And that’s not all. There is another ongoing investigation pending at City College. Back in 2005, City College officials allegedly used a $10K lease payment for a campaign for some more bonds.  This is not the way for a community college to be run, or for that matter, any organization to be run.

There seems to be a complete lack of transparency, and much of it for little reason other than they don’t feel the need to bother. City College is rarely covered in the press, and scandals have barely made a ripple in even this overtly political city.  Personally, I don’t want to opine on the long-term viability of Phil Day as Chancellor, that is for the elected trustees.  However, I don’t recall is simply not a good enough answer. There needs to be a frank and open discussion about what is best for San Francisco’s educational needs in general and City College specifically.

And furthermore, beyond transparency, we need a more visible election. I know trustee elections are small potatoes, but we must do more to ensure that they are not ignored. The future of City College is too important to be left to chance.

Will San Francisco Lose More than the 49’ers?

SF Party Party has been all over this, but I want to bring people’s attention to a new Steve Jones post at the Guardian blog:

Unfortunately, the city’s punitive approach to its most beloved street fairs and festivals only got worse last night when Recreation and Park Department staff convened members of the Outdoor Events Coalition to say they’re recommending substantially increased special event fees, so big that events like Bay to Breakers, Love Fest and other events could cease to exist. Rec and Park, an increasingly incompetent department that has bungled its way into a $2 million budget deficit, say they need big bucks to cover their costs and wipe out the red ink. Their proposal calls for charging $50,000 to use the Golden Gate Park polo field, $25,000 for Civic Center Plaza, and $12,000 for Mission Dolores Park. And on top of all this, the city has banned booze from the Haight Ashbury Street Faire of all places. Last year, we warned that fun in the city was under siege. Now it’s starting to look comatose.

If anyone has $25,000 lying around, we should hold a big protest at Civic Center Plaza because killing Bay to Breakers in an election year will draw a huge crowd. It was only five and a half years ago SF voters endorsed an Entertainment Commission to facilitate more events and now City Hall ineptitude is resulting in a cheapness strategy to kill any fun?