Brandon Hernández 8:18 a.m., May 21
Wealthy Non-Profit News Advocate Backs Bill Ponder and "Paycheck Protection" Measure
R. B. "Buzz" Woolley Jr., founder and financial backer of San Diego's non-profit online news operation, the Voice of San Diego, hasn't been prominent in the news of late, but the opinionated charter school advocate continues to contribute to various political causes, according to a disclosure statement posted online today by the California Secretary of State's office and dated July 26.
On March 12, the La Jolla philanthropist gave $10,000 to the campaign for Proposition 32, the measure on November's ballot that would ban unions from using payroll deductions of members for political purposes.
Backers of the proposition include ex-U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, a Republican, and former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero, whose failed 2010 bid to become state Superintendent of Public Instruction was backed by Woolley. Opponents include the League of Women Voters and Common Cause.
In addition, Woolley gave $450 on March 30 to the effort by the GOP's Ray Ellis to unseat First District San Diego city council incumbent, Democrat Sherri Lightner. As the Voice of San Diego reported in April, Ellis is "a crucial part of the Republican Party's push to swing the partisan balance of the City Council."
Other Woolley contributions during the first half of the year included $6500 on April 6 to the "Charter Schools PAC," sponsored by the California Alliance of California Charter Schools, and $750 on April 23 to the Committee to Elect William Ponder for School Board 2012.
On May 7, The La Jolla financier also gave $5,000 to the Alliance for Quality Education in support of Ponder for school board, the filing disclosed.
In the piece, Ponder blamed the local teachers union for his poor showing against Foster.
“The union got everybody in line,” the website quoted him as saying. “I would have hoped that people would’ve independently thought about what’s in the best interests of students, what’s in the best interests of the districts, and once we get that out there, the general public will start to do that.”
"With an apparently anemic turnout, Ponder’s theory about the union’s backing may have some merit," the website reported. "If few people were paying attention to the school board races, any strong voice had the advantage.
"But as the election ramps up, the union’s voice is only going to get louder. So, in the next four months, Ponder will have to come up with his own chorus."
Woolley's total state political spending during the first six months of the year was $22,700, according to the disclosure statement.