Digital News Report – SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today launched a television advertising campaign against Proposition 17, in which he memorably declares about the anti-consumer measure funded by Mercury Auto Insurance, “It’s a lemon!”
Underscoring the metaphor for a flawed policy whose hidden defects aren’t readily apparent to consumers, the ad features Herrera driving a car that turns out to be a yellow AMC Pacer, the iconic 1970s-era vehicle that is lemon-like in more than one respect. The Pacer’s dubious qualities became famous to a younger generation of audiences some two decades later for the car’s appearance in the popular 1992 film, “Wayne’s World,” and its 1993 sequel.
“Proposition 17 may sound like good policy from its radio and TV ads, but it has serious problems under the hood,” Herrera said. “As with any lemon, consumers deserve to know the truth. Prop 17 is another example of special interests taking advantage of our initiative process. Mercury Insurance is pouring millions into a cynical ad campaign that hopes to fool consumers into voting against their own interests. As San Francisco City Attorney, I’ve consistently stood up to protect consumers against powerful interests. That’s why I’m fighting back again. Today, our committee began airing a TV commercial that exposes Prop 17 for what it really is — a deceptive scheme by private auto insurers that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In short, ‘It’s a Lemon!'”
Proposition 17 is not the first time Herrera has stood up to insurance companies. During his first term as City Attorney in 2003, Herrera led a coalition that included the cities of Los Angeles and Oakland to end the practice of “ZIP-Code profiling,” a discriminatory practice by auto insurers that based rates on where drivers lived rather than on their driving records. Last year, Herrera sued state regulators to end an unconstitutional practice that allowed health insurance companies to charge women up to 39 percent more for coverage for individual policies based solely on their gender. Herrera’s lawsuit led to state legislation that ended the practice, known as “gender rating.”
Herrera was honored last year as the 2009 Consumer Attorney of the Year by the National Association of Consumer Advocates. The Washington, D.C.-based association boasts 1,500 attorneys from throughout the United States who have represented hundreds of thousands of consumers victimized by fraudulent, abusive and predatory business practices. The nationwide organization is committed to actively promoting a fair and open marketplace that protects the rights of consumers, particularly those of modest means.
By: Jill Nelson