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Steve Lopez: More worthwhile causes for Meg Whitman's $140 million


http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f4150cbe970b-piFor $140 million, Meg Whitman could have bought every man, woman and child in Ojai -- population 7,800 -- a brand new Toyota Corolla.

Or, taking advantage of a deal now being offered by Domino’s, the GOP candidate for California governor could have sent two medium pizzas, with two toppings each, to every household in California.

Based on the latest polls, in which Whitman is dropping further away from Democrat Jerry Brown despite the huge investment of her own money in campaign staff and advertising, I’d argue that she might be doing better if she’d spent the $140 million on pizza.

Then again, since job creation is one of Whitman’s key promises, you have to wonder if she would have been better off handing out 140 $1 million grants to small businesses. In fact, it might have been smart to do that this year, establish some good will and a record of economic development, and then run for governor in four years.

Or she could have saved a state program that provides mental health services for 20,000 special education students -- a $132-million program that was one of the casualties in the latest budget cuts.

I’m wondering if you have your own suggestions on how, win or lose, Whitman might have put that $140 million to better use.

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Whitman and Brown. L.A. Times file

Comments () | Archives (190)

The thing is, I don't know exactly WHY she wanted the job in the first place.
You can usually buy off the legislature for far cheaper than what she paid, if
she has an individual issue. If she really wanted to help California she could
have spent the money on clever ballot measure designed to deleverage the
power structure. A very simply worded ballot to disallow the unions or to
reform the pensions would pass, she becomes a here, THEN she can go for
the power positions like Governor or Senator. I wish she had gone after
Boxer instead and left Poizner alone. Instead, he helped bang up her
reputation instead of making the unions pay that much more to do it.

Any suggestion I made to her would not have matter. This was all about her thinking she could buy the election for herself. To billionaire like her, she could just write it off. It is not as if it was she who put blood, sweat, and tears to get that dough. She only manage the slavemaster who wipe the ones who did.

I don't live in Calif so maybe I'm exempt from the conversation...but I remember reading about the $140mil she was spending and thought the same thing. Wow! What $140Mil could do for some families in California. For some kids who need tutoring services. I'm sure she gives to charity -- but I wonder what percent of her wealth goes to charity? She impresses me as being a woman who's bored with private corporation life and wants to take on a challenge like running a state...I don't believe what she says about caring about California and wanting to help. You help your state at the local level and build from there. You help your state by contributing the $140Mil towards the deficit.
The spending amount alone would be enough to turn me off from voting for her.
As for the criticism about the unions supporting Brown....personally I think the cost of this election is obscene....beyond obscene. Maybe if everybody stayed home -- and I mean EVERYBODY...nobody showed up at the polls these high spending campaigns would stop.

Seems to me people here miss the point. Whitman was never out to help anyone but Meg. Watch her speeches, and you'll see that she doesn't even believe it herself. Her words are hollow, and about as convincing as a used car salesman trying to sell a Yugo with low mileage. I see no quest for public service there. There is no evidence of compassion or altruism. This a hobby for her, and $140 million out of a billion is pocket change. People can smell it too. The only supporters of Whitman I've met are wealthy Republicans who want a Republican in the office - and they don't really care who. They just want Republican, convinced that the party affiliation will somehow protect their assets. Meg doesn't give a rat's asset about anyone other than Meg. You might as well ponder what one could do with Lotto winnings. It has th same pointless significance. The only saving grace is that yet another wealthy narcissist won't succeed in buying her way into political power. Bye-bye Meg. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. And take Fiorina with you. You two are peas in a pod.

she spent 140 million? maybe more than 150 million. who knows? but be aware, she still has 95% or more of her billions... danger will robinson.

Meg-a-spender is too self centered and narcisstic to think of that!

Don't be fooled...

Brown is a lifelong mediocre politician who been hanging on too his father's coattails way too long...

Meg is a proven businesswoman...And she has a much better chance of getting CA out of economic nightmare than Brown...

At least the campaign consultants and the TV stations made some money. There's probably a little trickle down there.

Whitman claims that since she was independently wealthy, enough to spend 140 million on her campaign, that she's not beholden to the special interests, like unions. Then who is she beholden to? Not us poor Californians. Once she becomes Queen Whitman, who exactly does she answer to?

She should have put herself on a $85,000 a year budget for four years and live at or above the level of most of the people she wants to vote for her. Then, after learning what real people live like, she could be qualified to run for governor.

As for people calling this article a hatchet job, I think anytime anybody tries to basically buy an election, it should be seriously questioned. She's spent a projected $8.50 per voter and I think Brown's figure was under a dollar.

I don't like it when it seems somebody is just buying an election. Yeah, it's legal. That's a whole other problem.

It is really none of your business, her money, her choice.

so true pothead

And how much have the unions, the California Teachers Association, and other groups spent to support Jerry Brown? Imagine if those millions and millions of dollars had been spent purchasing textbooks, supplies, or funding social programs to offset budget cuts instead of being wasted on a political campaign.

Give me a break, Mr. Lopez. You're like the rest of those hypocrites out there: the millions spent by political opponents would have been better spent helping those in need. But the millions spent by your favorite candidates were well spent getting them elected. And for the record, I despise Meg Whitman.

Isn't this still America? I think she can spend her money however she wants (after paying the appropriate taxes and fees to various governmental agencies).

Nice to see that Jim, Tornadoes28 and headjazz received the latest corporate-funded GOP talking points about unions.

Unfortunately, gang, union members comprise less than 10% of the total work force, and corporations are currently outspending unions by margins of 12-to-1. Further, at least the unions have disclosed what they're spending; can't say the same for the corporations and GOP-related 527 front groups.

OK. now i've read all the comments.

I remember Gov. Brown, things were much better under his reign than Duke Majean, Pete Wilson, and god knows Shwarz-uh-negger. I remember when the rich bought a special election to oust Gray Davis to bring in the gubernator.

Which makes all the trolls inevitable, bla bla bla, illegal aliens, public employee unions, it's her money so what's it to ya, everything will go to hell if she's not elected, she's a great businesswoman, etc. etc.

Perhaps the chowderheads who bought EBay stock too late would disagree. She comes off as a latter-day wanna-be Machiavelli, an unsophisticated frumpy attempt at the Devil wearing Prada stereotype.

What I find missing in the comments' meanness is the realization that this was intended to be a newspaper column to make you think and perhaps think twice about the direction that political campaigning and partisan boneheadness have taken this country in the last 30 years.

Reagan was a lying dunce, a pathetic prop for the hyper-rich who no more believed in religion and "family values" as defined by the social conservative dupes than I do. He was used by a very powerful, very rich minority of slime who run American business. We will all die under the oligarchic control of the members of this awful post-evolutionary species. Nothing can stop this, short of ritual murder of a CEO every week. So we should all have a good laugh on the way down. Seriously. I think that might have been Lopez' intent

it's her money. she can spend it on trying to get elected, why not?

i don't see how it's ethical for one person to decide what another person should do with his money. it doesn't even make sense from a journalistic point of view. she can spend 100M of her own money smoking crack, who cares? it's her money. that's the point of property. it's yours to dispose of however you want. that's part of living in a free society.

can we do an article on what i would do with the 48% tax i pay on my income (state + federal + social security?) i'd save up money and build a house, all of the money would go straight into hiring architects and contractors and builders and materials. job creation. and i'd have a nice modest little house to live in. i don't need help, just a little less being killed on taxes. i know we are supposed to to pay for public service union members a lot, because they vote left, and california is a leftist state, but it doesn't seem fair to me. i'm getting killed on taxes without receiving anything in return.

As usual liberals are better at spending other peoples money than making it.

Really what is the purpose of making fun of Meg anyway. It's her money. She can us as she please. Don't forget we live and adore this capitalistic society. I am Chinese. Would you like my leader, Chairman Hu and the Communist Party, run this country? Americans have the freedom to speak out. In China, if you did speak out you will be taken away in the night. No kidding! Brown is too old for this job, give it to the woman.

She could have given it to me, and I could have hired people to fix all the potholes in town, and fix the drainage at the intersections that flood when it rains. And those workers would have money to spend in local businesses. And those local businesses would hire more people because of the workers buying things. And those newly hired people would spend money, too, and be able to drive to work on streets without potholes that don't flood when it rains. And maybe there would be a little less anger and ire in our once beautiful state.

Opened up a series of charter schools.
Opened fresh food markets in underserved areas.

Mr. Lopez,

Its not your money, your not running, and all of your suggestions are all very Liberal.... Who are you to tell Meg what she should do with her money? Another Socialistic view point, (LATimes)?

Hey Steve.

How bout an accounting of where you have spent your money in the last year?

Meg could have given every illegal/undocumented immigrant in CA $50.00 CASH...

Meg Whitman has spent more $$$ on this campaign than anyone in history. That is why Lopez is calling her out. She has spent more money than Al Gore when he ran for President in all 50 states, not just the singular state of California. It's obscene and a total turnoff.
If you simply google it, you will see that Brown hasn't come close to the orgy of spending that Meg has unleashed. What a waste.

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