Orange County Voters OK Measure H, Reject Measure G
By a 65%-35% margin, Orange County voters yesterday approved Measure H, a ballot initiative backed by physicians and hospitals that would earmark 80% of the county's tobacco settlement funds for health services such as antismoking programs. Competing initiative Measure G, which would have allocated 42% of the settlement to health care and 40% to settling the county's bankruptcy debt, was defeated 54%-46% (Orange County general election results, 11/8). Dr. J. Brennan Cassidy, past president of the Orange County Medical Association, said, "The polls long before the election showed that 81% of the people thought the tobacco settlement should be spent on health care. This just proves that was true." Measure H supporters spent $638,000 to promote the measure compared to $2,000 spent by Measure G supporters. Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach, who wrote Measure G, said, "Orange County historically is very conservative, so a lot of voters said we need to pay down this debt. But it's hard to win when you have the drumbeat of television, ads and mailers like you've had on the other side" (Reed/Heisel, Orange County Register, 11/8).
Meanwhile, in Ventura County, voters "overwhelmingly rejected"
Measure O, the Community Memorial Hospital-sponsored ballot initiative that would divert the county's $260 million tobacco settlement to private hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to Ventura County election results, Measure O was defeated by a 68%-32% margin. (Chawkins, Los Angeles Times, 11/8). Despite the defeat, CMH spokeperson Mark Barnhill said, "[W]hile these numbers are disappointing, Measure O has been an extraordinary success. Health care is not the No. 1 priority in the county for the tobacco settlement money -- 10 months ago it wasn't even a blip on the radar screen." Although CMH spent more than $2.3 million to garner support for the measure, official endorsements were "scant," with the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, nurses' unions and the Ventura County Medical Society among the initiative's opponents (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 11/8).