L.A. Times Asks Readers to Weigh In on Porn-Condom Referendum Debate

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Times has asked its readers to weigh in on the porn-condom referendum that backers hope to pass if it ever gets to a vote.

The Times' Robert Greene said that the paper's editorial board stands firm with its editiorial last year on the matter: That political leaders should place tougher enforcement of workplace protection laws on porn sets and that there is a clear need for a state law that mandates condom use. 

"But now we're dealing with a more complicated question: Should the city of Los Angeles adopt a condom mandate as part of its power to issue or deny permits for film shoots? Greene asked. "Should voters be allowed to adopt such a mandate into law? Should the city attorney go ahead with a lawsuit to block an initiative to require condoms in porn shoots if his lawyers firmly believe that such a law is unenforceable — because it's arguably in conflict with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) jurisdiction over workplace safety?

"What about if going ahead with the arguably unenforceable election will cost the city $4.4 million?"

"The editorial board has to deliberate, decide and editorialize. What should we say? Your thoughts and comments are welcome."

Last week, two city councilman asked for an emergency motion to topple City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's suit against AIDS Healthcare Foundation leaders after they delivered more than 70,000 signatures to place a porn-condom referendum on a municipal ballot.

Trutanich's suit, filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, said that the initiative is preempted by state law, specifically California Labor Section 144.7, which mandates the use of barrier protection in the workplace when employees are exposed to blood borne pathogens and that Cal/OSHA has exclusive jurisdiction over the issue.

The two councilmen, Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz, said that Trutanich took the legal action without consulting them and asked for the full council to order the suit dismissed. But after a closed session with city attorneys, the council tabled the motion to direct lawyers to dismiss the suit.

"The council could cut through much of the morass by simply adopting the substance of the initiative into an ordinance by itself," Greene said. "That would save the need for the election, the $4.4 million and the court hearing — or would it? Trutanich still would advise that the law was unenforceable, and that the city is likely to be sued and to incur unnecessary costs.

"See? Not quite so simple, is it? So should The Times call on the City Council to let the suit go forward so we can get an idea whether the law would even be enforceable before spending money on an election? Or should we tell it to let the people vote and then see if the city is sued? Should we call on the council to just pass the thing into law itself?

"Your thoughts, comments? Greene asked in an unusual editorial query.