Betsy Butler's bright idea to attach her campaign flyers to plastic baby bottles must have seemed cute in theory.
The current assemblywoman for much of L.A. County's South Bay area is shooting for finer pastures this November: She wishes to reign over the new citizen-drawn District 50, quite possibly the wealthiest voting district in California history.
So she apparently thought she needed to up the ante, adding some real flair to her flyers:
Butler attached them to real-life baby bottles and had her foot soldiers drop them off on 6,000 to 8,000 residents' doorsteps (by her estimate), a reminder of Butler's victorious bill to ban the dangerous chemical BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.
“Venice for Change” blogger Marta Evry — whose day job, awesomely, is editing the TV show Castle — has posted a long-winded rant about these “thousands of Mexican-made plastic baby bottles … hand-delivered by paid canvassers.” The article likewise appeared on Santa Monica Patch this morning.
Clearly, Evry is gunning for another candidate in the race, and her roast of Butler's baby-bottle mailers is a prime example of that classic Venice Beach cattiness that tears neighbors apart and keeps our news blog running.
But we've got to admit — this is some of the weirdest, not to mention wasteful, campaign paraphernalia ever to hit the Westside. BPA is scary and all, but so is feeding a baby with an unsealed bottle you found on your doormat.
David Allgood, an old friend of Butler's on the California League of Conservation Voters, argues that residents without babies “can donate [the bottles] to a women's shelter, or pass [them] along to a friend with babies.”
“Worst case scenario, they put them in their recycling bin,” says Allgood.
Seems a little naive, for a political organization whose entire purpose is protecting the environment. In this blogger's own Santa Monica household, certain roommates can hardly wrap their heads around recycling old milk cartons, much less some alien polypropylene receptacle with shiny flyers flapping off it.
Evry, angry Venetian, points out that Californians have a pretty abysmal track record with that type of plastic: From 2000 to 2009, polypropylene was recycled about 5 percent of the time. Heh.
She also has a problem with the fact that the baby bottles are manufactured in Mexico by a company called Everflo, whose decision to stop using BPA had nothing to do with Butler.
The assemblywoman, however, makes the case that “the reason they're from Mexico is because California and the rest of country have been so behind” on banning BPA. (Her bill doesn't go into effect until summer 2013.)
And as for the wastefulness factor: “Everyone I know who has gotten them is joyful to have a clean, BPA-free baby bottle … they can share with those they love the most,” says Butler. “Very few people don't have an infant in their life.”
Turns out Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom is also running against Butler for the gilded District 50 throne.
Here's his awesome response to Bottlegate (grain of salt, obviously):
“It's a gimmick that is cute, but wasteful I don't think this is going to go over well with voters, particularly here in Santa Monica, where I am happy to say, waste is not looked kindly upon, whether it is energy, water, plastic bags (banned) or polystyrene take-out containers (banned). That said, her team is 'milking' her BPA legislation for all its worth.”
But really, beyond all this mud-slinging and politicking, can we just say: Baby bottles? Really? Campaign strategy is not dumping a small landfill's worth of creepy nursing relics onto the general population, then expecting them to catch ballot fever.