Issue Management

"Won't Back Down" Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

-- by Mary Bottari and Sara Jerving

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation's education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film "Won't Back Down" -- set for release September 28 -- portrays so-called "Parent Trigger" laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film's distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

The Trap Shoot Must Go On: Guess Who'll Be Shootin' with ALEC Members in Salt Lake? (The NRA and a Machine Gun Corp)

Madison, WI -- Three months after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a PR statement that it was eliminating its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which was previously led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the NRA announced that it would still be hosting its regular annual shooting event at ALEC's summer convention, in Salt Lake City on July 28. For the past several years, on the Saturday of ALEC's annual meeting, the NRA has regularly hosted an outing for ALEC legislators and lobbyists to go shooting together -- with complimentary guns and ammo plus plenty of food and drink (this time it is a barbeque).

Big Soda Uses Philanthropy to Silence Opposition, Neutralize Soda Taxes

Pepsi productsAs evidence mounts linking sugar consumption to increasing rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, the soda industry is fighting back, in part by ramping up philanthropy and developing partnerships. After the Philadelphia City Council introduced a measure to add a two-cent tax on soda, the soda industry's lobbying group, the American Beverage Association created the "Foundation for a Healthy America," a new front group that donated $10 million to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia -- to expand its obesity program. The soda tax would have raised about $20 million for obesity prevention programs plus even more money for the city's general fund. Despite this, the soda tax proposal fizzled and Philadelphia's City Council declined to revisit the issue. In a similar move, Coca Cola funded a North Carolina School of Public Health campaign against childhood obesity. The slogan? "Everything in moderation." Even the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a report titled (pdf) "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future," which contains an odd "personal perspective" written by Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi, that reads like a press release. Nooyi boasts about Pepsi's partnership with the YMCA, promotes the company's "responsible advertising" and a self-regulatory project in which the company apparently monitors its own advertising to children under 12.


Coal Lobby Eyes Illinois Subsidies

McGuireWoods Consulting, a Chicago-based PR and lobbying firm, has been hired by the FutureGen Alliance to lobby Illinois legislators to financially support FutureGen, a proposed coal-fired power station which would use the experimental Carbon Capture


Private-Police Partnership for Water Project Spying

Victoria Police has negotiated a formal agreement with the developers of a desalination plant to provide police files to the project developers. Paul Austin reports that "Victoria Police has agreed to hand over photos, video recordings and other police records to the international consortium AquaSure to help it 'manage' protests and potential security threats." A 20-page agreement was signed between Victoria Police and AquaSure in late August and contains a provision that police ''will release law enforcement data'' to the desalination plant developers.


Yet Another PR Ploy: The Un-Spokesperson

The Seattle Times' Jonathan Martin reports, "In response to a request to talk with [T-Mobile] CEO Robert Dotson and other executives this week, I got an email back from the PR firm Waggener Edstrom Worldwide that ended with a strange request.

Hi Jonathan, Thank you for your phone call this afternoon and your patience while I looked into your request. While we won't be able to provide you with an interview we are able to provide the following statement. ... Please note that if you plan to use this statement in your piece, I am not a T-Mobile spokesperson and to use my name would be inaccurate.


Water: The Newest Wave of Corporate "Social Responsibility"

Even critics of World Water Week, held annually in Stockholm, Sweden, agree that it's an important forum where thousands of people working on water issues share information.

This year's event, held from August 16 to 22, placed special emphasis on the relationship between water and climate change. The closing statement (pdf) was literally a message to COP15, the major United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December. "Water is a key medium through which climate change impacts will be felt," it reads, adding that "water-related adaptation" should be seen as part of the solution. The statement also calls for funding "to assist vulnerable, low income countries already affected by climate change," along with longer-term adaptation efforts.

So why are there critics of World Water Week? In a word, Nestlé.


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