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Spending in Hotel Campaign

February 10, 1985

In November, the Beverly Hills City Council placed on the ballot a proposition asking the voters to decide if additional hotel rooms should be permitted in our business triangle.

The ensuing campaign was one of the most expensive in Beverly Hills' history. A question has been raised as to whether we should place some ceiling on campaign spending. Unfortunately, dollars spent on campaigning doesn't necessarily translate into better public understanding of the issues.

The Courtright organization spent almost $200,000 protecting its hotel from competition. The applicant hotels spent even more in their efforts to become part of our community.

Neither told its story well, and the public's confusion was compounded by the specter of an 18-story building pictured on the front page of a local newspaper--never even a matter of consideration!

A concise, factual story, well told and well disseminated, would have better served a community, and a choice, based on those realities, could have been made by the public.

Instead, both sides engaged in excesses to achieve their own self-serving needs. Sadly, restrictions on campaign spending won't eliminate excesses in campaign hyperbole, nor will unlimited spending assure a better informed electorate. Issue campaigns are best fought on the issues. Dollars spent have no relationship to the information conveyed, the success of the campaign, nor benefits to the city.

DONNA ELLMAN

Beverly Hills City Council

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