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The December Meeting

Adams scheduled a December 13, 1995, meeting at AHA in Sacramento in the hope that it would get the key players together to discuss reauthorization,

but she had some difficulty persuading ANR and Glantz to come. Believing that it was impossible for a voluntary health agency to take the kind of strong action necessary to rescue Proposition 99, Glantz told Adams that he would only be willing to attend a meeting after the AHA “did something real.”

AHA had its chance to do so when Glantz obtained a copy of a thirty-second anti-smoking advertisement, “Insurance,” produced by DHS. After making the point that tobacco companies owned insurance companies that gave nonsmoker discounts, the advertisement ended with the question “What do the tobacco guys know that they are not telling us?” The administration was sitting on the advertisement. Glantz suggested that AHA hold a press conference to demand that the governor put the advertisement on the air. AHA did so, together with ALA and, at the last minute, ACS. The event got media coverage, and Glantz and ANR agreed to attend the December meeting.

Adams's meeting brought together lobbyists from the three voluntary agencies—Adams from AHA, Knepprath and Najera from ALA, and Renken from ACS—as well as John Miller from Senator Diane Watson's office, Carolyn Martin, a volunteer with ALA and past chair of the Tobacco Education Oversight Committee (TEOC), Carol and Hobart from ANR, and Glantz. The morning session featured a briefing by the TCS staff on the substance of the program; TCS left before the afternoon strategy session.

During the afternoon session, Adams announced that AHA had committed $50,000 for the reauthorization effort, $25,000 of which would go to ANR for a grassroots campaign and the rest to do other things, such as hiring a Republican lobbyist. ANR committed $25,000 of its own, ALA committed $10,000, and Glantz wrote a personal check for $1,000—creating a war chest of $86,000. Renken did not mention the fact that ACS had already committed $120,000 to the Proposition 99 effort. The meeting ended with the health groups posturing, not with an action plan. Glantz, Carol, and Hobart, who felt that the pledged money would be enough to mount a substantial campaign, left the meeting demoralized.

The meeting was a watershed. Rather than resulting in a larger, more diverse working group, which had been AHA's goal, the meeting eventually resulted in a divided coalition and two different reauthorization campaigns.

Najera later described his reaction to the meeting:

We had been planning and planning since October and we had one thing in mind, that was a statewide coalition—united we stand together. But we go to this meeting in December and that was the telling…thing for me, that Mary was playing both sides, because ANR and Stan had not been working with us necessarily at the October meetings. And consequently when we got to the meeting in December, it was very clear that the Heart Association was not necessarily interested or concerned about working together with the Coalition. And they frankly were attempting to tell us that this wasn't going to work. It was for me the telling time when it became clear that they didn't want Cancer and they were afraid that by contributing the money Cancer would take the leadership in this thing. And it wasn't going to work because Cancer and the governor were friends.[2]

According to Knepprath, ANR and Glantz were assuming that any ACS strategy would represent “the old school, the old way of doing things, Sacramento based, lobbying, an inside play of the game.” Knepprath went on to say, “Stan and ANR were advocating `we're not doing that this time. We're doing something different this time,' which is their right and prerogative. …They were definitely thinking fast track, and Stan by this time had been pitching to all of us, `Let's utilize the [Proposition] 188 format in which it wasn't centralized; you didn't really have a centralized coalition. Everybody did their own thing and we worked together and, gee, wasn't that great? So let's do that again.'”[2] Knepprath was seeking basically the same type of centralized coalition that had operated in the past, except with ACS in charge.

Adams remembered a lot of tension in the room at the December meeting: “Theresa went out in the hall and was talking to somebody, she had her little nose out of joint and certainly didn't say that they had any money. …But I think that they had already gotten some money put together as well. But it was clear that Tony was already starting to feel somewhat threatened. The fact that I had been the one that convened this meeting with TCS and with the others, that Stan and Julia were there …”[5] For Adams, the philosophical differences could have been accommodated if only the strong personalities had not gotten in the way. This view underestimated the depth of the philosophical disagreements that existed over the approach the campaign should take. Adams was unaware of how much money ACS had committed to the campaign, and the distrust she, ANR, and Glantz felt about ACS in a leadership role was aggravated by Renken's failure to mention it when all the other organizations were anteing up their contributions.

If the other organizations had negative reactions to the ANR presence, it was echoed by ANR's response. ANR had not wanted to be involved in the Proposition 99 reauthorization campaign and had not wanted to go to the AHA meeting. Adams convinced them to come. Carol said about the meeting,

We didn't want to be involved in a big campaign to save Prop 99. However, one of ANR's goals is to separate tobacco money from politicians and to highlight the nefarious connection between the tobacco industry and politicians and their interference in public policy. To that end, the thought of beating up Pete Wilson a little every now and then over his connection to Philip Morris in fact appealed to me greatly. When Pete Wilson appointed Craig Fuller, the former senior vice president of Philip Morris, as his campaign manager [for Wilson's abortive presidential campaign in 1995], we had run a radio spot asking if Pete Wilson was running for president or just wanted to be the next Marlboro Man. …And I thought we'd follow it up with a Hall of Shame ad, which I had in draft form at that meeting and we wanted to run. …People were starting to put money on the table as far as what they were going to do with Prop 99, and Stan thought it would be great for us to spur them along by saying what we were doing. Stan and Mary both begged us to be there. …Mary decided, and she probably regrets it now, but Mary decided that in order to win Prop 99 we had to be a major player. …

… it was awful. The Cancer Society said nothing, Lung said what they were going to put up, we said what we were going to put up, Heart said what they had to put up. Cancer stayed silent. Theresa only said one or two things, one of which was, “Well, if you beat up the governor, how do you expect him to sign your bill? Why would he sign the bill if you beat him up?”…She said nothing about any money.

The next thing I know, Cynthia [Hallett of the Los Angeles LLA] calls me from L.A. and tells me that the Cancer Society has announced the week before in a public forum…they had I think it was $110,000 and they were going to run a Save 99 campaign. Now why the Cancer Society would feel free to discuss this publicly,…but would sit there in a meeting with her so-called partners—an inside-the-room confidential meeting—and not say a word about it is beyond me.[3]

ANR did not believe that the coalition was prepared to adopt a vigorous grassroots strategy, attack the CMA, or take ANR's advice seriously. Hobart “came away from that meeting really firmly convinced…this is not going to work.”[6]

At the December meeting Glantz knew about the money that AHA, ALA, and ANR had available, but he did not know about the ACS plan. He later recalled,

We went into that meeting with $86,000, which I thought, intelligently spent, was enough money, and I went up there all excited. And what happened was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting, and I think the basic problem was that if normal human beings had been at that meeting, as opposed to voluntary health agency lobbyists and small-minded people, we would have walked out of that meeting excited and with a new leader in Mary. Because she's the one who pulled it together. She had established a working relationship with TCS. She had gotten all the key stakeholders in the room and come up with a significant amount of money.

I would have thought we would have walked out of that meeting with a new fresh face, with a smart woman with some serious resources: I was there with the sort of intellectual stuff, Julia was there with the grassroots stuff, Tony was there with all of his insider stuff, which he's good at, Mary was there. We had Paul Knepprath, who is good with the media. And I think we had the real makings of a good solid campaign. …

I think they were tremendously threatened by her [Mary Adams] and the Heart Association. …This had been their little sandbox for all these years and all of a sudden, here was a new player. And rather than saying, “Oh boy! We've got somebody else to work with, we can be strong and productive and this and that,” they were instantly threatened. …And I think the fact that Theresa did not disclose that the Cancer Society had this big wad of money at the meeting was just at the very least, unprofessional, and duplicitous and devious and dishonest and all these other things. And so we came out of that meeting…very depressed and Julia had had it. And I was very discouraged.[7]

The only person who did not seem discouraged by the meeting was John Miller. Miller felt that the meeting revealed the divisions between the insiders and outsiders but that, in the end, having an aggressive outside campaign might be helpful.[9]

Whereas Najera and Knepprath suspected that ANR and Glantz were threatened by ACS, Glantz was concerned that ALA and ACS were threatened by AHA. Either way, the questions about leadership and direction, far from being settled by the meeting, seemed to be exacerbated. Despite their differences in strategies, however, all the players believed that three things had to happen in 1996 if they were to secure full funding of the Health Education and Research Accounts. First, the CMA had to drop its advocacy of the diversions. Second, the sole reliance on the inside game had to end and the grassroots constituency had to be involved. And, third, the media attention had to be recaptured with a focus on “following the will of the voters” instead of a budget battle.

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