The Times reported (Nov. 7) that in conceding defeat of Prop. 128 initiative backers charged: "The opposition campaign financed largely by chemical and oil companies had succeeded in confusing the voters." Blaming the chemical and oil companies is truly a cop-out for an initiative that was confusing enough without any opposition campaign. In all probability, if the oil companies campaigned for Prop. 128, it would have lost by an even wider margin.
The lessons from Prop. 128 should be etched in the minds of future supporters and authors of initiatives. They should learn to address a single subject that can be thoroughly understood by the voting public. Each area addressed by Prop. 128 (offshore oil drilling, old-growth redwood preservation, environmental advocate, etc.) is a worthwhile cause that voters do care about. However, together these subjects form an unwieldy combination with unclear fiscal and administrative responsibilities.
The other important lesson to be learned is that future initiative supporters must be able to clarify what the proposition entails. The campaign for Prop. 128 never gave voters confidence that the backers could even understand all its implications and costs.
Most people wanted more specifics on cost and implementation that the opposition was only too happy to provide based on their biased viewpoint.
The vote against Prop. 128 was not a vote against the environment or Assemblyman Tom Hayden. It was a vote against poorly written, "do all" propositions and poor campaign tactics.
CHARLES B. MORGAN III