SAN FRANCISCO: A coalition to defeat two controversial public
utility propositions was successful last week, even when an
anthrax-related controversy delayed the voting results by almost a
Singer Associates - together with agencies BMWL & Partners, Jim Ross
Consulting, and Storefront Political Media - developed the strategy to
thwart two propositions placed before voters on November 6.
Proposition I would create a municipal utility district so that
utilities like electricity, gas, cable, and phone would be run as city
services rather than by private industry. Proposition F would have
replaced the Public Utility Commission with a San Francisco Water and
The Chamber of Commerce, The Committee on Jobs, Communications Workers
of America, and other union groups opposed the measures.
The coalition conducted an e-mail and television campaign to oppose
them, highlighting union fears of job losses. The campaign was called
"No to the $3 Billion Bill," alluding to the amount of money the
propositions would allegedly cost taxpayers.
PG&E, the utility made notorious in the film Erin Brockovich, also
opposed the bills. But although PG&E was vocal in its opposition, the
coalition did not join with the company. "Because of its Chapter 11
filings, PG&E has no credibility with voters in San Francisco,"
explained Sam Singer, president of Singer Associates.
In fact, PG&E had, what Singer called, "perhaps the worst campaign
catastrophe I have ever seen," when it announced the day before the
election that it had tripled its profits to $771 million.
Proponents of the propositions handed out copies of the news stories
about PG&E's wins to San Franciscans on election day.
The vote was complicated when officials decided to open absentee ballots
away from the main counting location out of anthrax fears. Poor
communications by the election officials led to accusations of fraud.
The count was finalized last Sunday, but the local media is still
questioning whether the results will be certified.