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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Getting the Facts Straight on Measure B

In it’s Dec. 24 issue, the San Fernando Valley Business Journal published a less than flattering editorial about the adult production industry and the aftermath of Measure B. The porn industry is such an easy and obvious target for everyone from politicians trying to appear moral to editors in search of a sensational headline. The sad truth is that few who write about or regulate this industry spend any time at all learning about the people and businesses which they regulate or of which they write. Measure B, an ill-conceived mandatory condom law inflicted on the industry by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), has provided a unique opportunity to broaden the discussion about the adult entertainment industry and those who demonize it for political and promotional capital. Editors and business entities who took the time to scratch beneath the surface of the myths and misconceptions associated with the adult production industry were able to build a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the industry and its contribution to our community. As a result, all of the major Los Angeles newspapers and 44 chambers of commerce and business groups opposed Measure B. Then why did Measure B pass? Measure B was put on the ballot after AHF spent nearly $2 million on paid signature gatherers in order to get enough signatures to qualify for the Los Angeles County ballot. At my local market, the paid signature gatherer shoved the petition at me and asked, “Do you want to prevent college students from getting HIV?” What most people don’t realize is that these signature gatherers, who are paid between $4 and $8 per signature, can say anything they want to get signatures. It is perfectly legal and up to the signer to read the petition and understand what he or she is signing. Once on the ballot, AHF was the only contributor to the Yes on B campaign, writing checks from the “nonprofit” for millions and outspending the adult industry 6 to 1. Our polling showed that if we reach people and educate them about the expense of tax dollars and the fact that this is a solution without a problem, then we can move them. The first point is that the self regulated testing protocols within the industry are highly effective. L.A. County Public Health produced a 152-page epidemiological profile on HIV risk factors. Nowhere in that report is adult production even mentioned. Furthermore, there has not been a transmission of HIV on an adult set – nationwide – since 2004. As a result, AHF could not and did not get backing from any other AIDS organization for Measure B. Our second argument against Measure B is the significant cost of taxpayer dollars. The county estimates that the minimum cost of Measure B will be $582,932, not including costs associated with confiscation, law enforcement involvement, and administrative and appeal proceedings. According to the Measure, the cost of the program is to be divided among producers purchasing permits. However, most, if not all, adult production companies have stopped all production within the borders of L.A. County. Even if L.A. County does not sell one permit, Measure B requires the development and maintenance of a bureaucracy to oversee adult production permitting. As a result, the burden of the cost of the measure will come from funds earmarked for other critical HIV programs that serve high risk populations in L.A. County – blacks, Latinos, the uninsured, the under-insured and people in poverty. During the election the No on B campaign made significant headway, but the campaign did not have enough money to combat AHF’s $200 million annual budget and their ability to write checks for millions at the drop of a hat. Ironically, AHF obtains much of its funding from government contracts –including L.A. County. AHF is currently suing L.A. County in a dispute over alleged billing violations by AHF in its contracts with the county – including an alleged overbilling of $1.75 million. AHF will continue to buy elections and bully city, county and state governments until someone draws the line. It is easy and obvious for AHF to try to gain political and promotional capital by attacking the adult entertainment community. Make no mistake, the fallout from AHF’s campaign can and will be detrimental to L.A. County. The adult production community will begin 2013 by challenging Measure B in court. Whether the majority of the industry remains in L.A. County will depend on the outcome of the legal decision. Diane Duke is chief executive of the Free Speech Coalition, an adult industry trade association in Canoga Park.

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