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LLU gives big bucks to pass Prop. 3

From Inside Socal, Jason Pesick reports:

Loma Linda University normally doesn’t get involved in political issues or elections. As an institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it doesn’t want to blur the lines separating church and state.

Proposition 3 on the Nov. 4 ballot is an exception.

The $980 million bond measure would help improve children’s hospitals in California.

If the measure passes, Loma Linda University would get up to $98 million, which could provide a fraction of the funds needed to build a new children’s hospital.

But since a new hospital is so expensive, the money would most likely go to renovate and buy equipment for the existing children’s hospital at the corner of Barton Road and Anderson Street.

Like every children’s hospital in the state, Loma Linda University is contributing about $900,000 for TV and radio spots and other efforts to promote the measure.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis is featured in the ads. See the ads on the California Children’s Hospital Association (CCHA) web site here.

There is no organized campaign opposing the proposition.

Thirty days ago, the Sacramento Bee reported the Field poll numbers and noted that:

Forty-seven percent of likely voters said they would vote yes, vs. 35 percent who replied negatively and 18 percent who said they didn’t know.

But just 18 percent of the 830 surveyed statewide in mid-September said they had heard of the measure before being told about it by pollsters.

“If it starts out ahead, history suggests it generally has a 50-50 chance,” said poll director Mark DiCamillo. “It really depends on how the campaign presents it and how trusted information sources come out on it. Those have big impacts.”

History may be one thing the hospitals do have on their side. In 2004, they pushed Proposition 61, a smaller version of Proposition 3.

Polls a month prior to that election showed 61 at almost the same place as Monday’s survey showed Proposition 3.

Proponents then launched a $5 million advertising campaign featuring actress Jamie Lee Curtis two weeks before the election, and the measure won comfortably.

This year, Proposition 3 proponents will begin airing a similar ad, again featuring Curtis, three weeks before the election.

“It’s encouraging to be at this point before we begin the ads,” said Diana Dooley, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association. “Plus it helps that there isn’t going to be any paid advertising against it.”

While the measure is opposed by several taxpayer watchdog groups, none of them has raised money against Proposition 3.

DiCamillo said, however, that another “wild card” may be in play this year: the economy.

“Voters may feel this may not be the right time” for more bond issuances, he said. “Will voters view this as important enough to vote for it? There are other bonds on the ballot, and it may be that some voters will decide to vote no on everything.”

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