Sacramento Report: Porn Initiative 'Degrades Our Work' - Voice of San Diego

Government UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Sacramento Report: Porn Initiative 'Degrades Our Work'

An adult film star on a ballot measure requiring condoms in porn, the ballot grows ever longer, a push to cover homelessness goes statewide and more in our weekly roundup of news from the Capitol.

Even on what is shaping up to be an insanely long list of ballot measures facing California voters in November, this one stands out: a proposal that could change the course of California’s multibillion-dollar porn industry.

The Safer Sex in Adult Film Act was submitted by Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and would allow any state resident to file a complaint with the state’s workplace safety watchdog if they don’t see a condom in a porn production. If the agency doesn’t pursue the complaint, that person can sue anyone with a financial stake in the production, including performers.

Sacramento Report logoBoth the state Republican and Democratic parties have come out against the measure, as have several AIDS/HIV groups and LGBT advocates. They fear the measure would expose performers to harassment by divulging their names and addresses in court documents.

Mia Li is an adult film performer and activist who lives in Hillcrest. I asked her about how the measure might impact her and what broader effects it might have.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

AHF has stood to its ground in the face of mounting opposition. Do you feel like they understand the nuances of what this would do to the adult industry?

Michael Weinstein and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation say they are speaking on behalf of performers and their welfare. That is such a Trojan horse. The title, Safer Sex in Adult Film, sounds like they’re looking out for us, it seems like a no-brainer. But when you look at the nitty gritty, there’s so much that creates risk, there’s so much that makes it harder to navigate an already difficult industry to navigate. There will be companies that go underground, which will only make it more likely for performers to become victims. There will be a financial incentive for the people who file the lawsuits.

Can you describe what that danger would actually look like?

Say I were to do a webcam show with a partner. Anyone in California who thinks that we didn’t use a condom can bring forward a complaint. If Cal OSHA doesn’t pursue, the person can follow through with a lawsuit and actually make financial profit. It takes something I’m doing consensually — be it with friends or partners or fellow performers — and opens it to harassment and compromises how we want to live our lives.

The reason I got into adult film was to create amazing content and document human sexuality in a way that is entertainment but in some ways is very true to form, and is honest and represents the diversity that I want to see. But now with this measure, it degrades our work. Which is ironic because they’re saying they’re here to protect performers, but really they are sterilizing an art form.

Over the last few years, the adult industry has instituted a system requiring performers to show a clean bill of health in order to work. Each test is valid for two weeks. How satisfied are you with that system?

I feel secure and confident in the testing protocols. Every scene that I go to, I have to speak with my scene partner and exchange test results. That’s really important to me because my partner in my personal life is not in the industry. Many of us do have civilian partners, and we’re entrusting not only our sexual health to the current testing system, but also our partners’ and our families’.

There’s been much speculation as to whether this measure would push production companies out of California. Already, the L.A. scene has dwindled significantly because of the 2012 condom law passed there. If this measure passes, do you think the remaining production companies will flee?

Oh yes — the ones that can afford it. But the ones that can’t, the ones with perhaps less scruples, will go underground. It’s very dangerous when things go underground and people continue to shoot, because it’s harder for a performer to be an advocate for themselves.

What will you do if the measure passes?

Luckily, I’ll be able to make an income on webcam by myself, so I’ll be OK for a time. But my five-year plan involves shooting; it involves creating my own content and being an entrepreneur, which many of us are. We are very much self-made individuals who feed ourselves and pay the bills with the content we make. If creating that art puts me and my friends at risk, I would have to really re-evaluate whether I can make that dream happen.

Q-and-A conducted by Sebastian Montes, a freelancer writer living in San Diego

Yes, the Ballot Is Still Growing

Several more measures got the green-light to proceed to the November ballot, where California voters will face a mind-boggling number of issues.

The latest ones: A measure we told you about a few weeks ago that would speed up the death-penalty process (a competing measure would eliminate the death penalty in the state), the measure to make legislative proceedings more transparent I wrote about last week, a measure meant to compete with the plastic bag ban that would require money made from bag sales to go toward environmental causes, the marijuana legalization initiative, a measure that would change how juveniles are sentenced in court, and new cigarette tax and a tax extension that would fund education and health care.

Let me repeat: That giant litany of measures is what was added to the ballot THIS WEEK ALONE.

In San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that he’ll push for another local ballot measure — a bond that would bring in new money for local parks, including Balboa Park.

Colorado’s Running Dry, Central Valley’s Running Wet

Gov. Jerry Brown’s office has taken a keen interest in water, but Brown himself is not involved in ongoing negotiations about the future of California’s supply of Colorado River water.

Instead, California is being represented by several water agencies and the Colorado River Board of California, which includes a representative from the state Department of Water Resources.

“The administration is being kept apprised of discussions under way,” a department spokesman said in an email.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of talk this week about researchers finding a huge amount of new water beneath the ground in the Central Valley, the heart of California farm country. They shouldn’t plant of a bunch of almond trees and take long showers just yet, though.

The water we’re talking about is up to 3,000  feet beneath the ground, which is several times deeper than wells are currently drilled. To get out, this deeper water would be expensive, could cause the ground to sink and might require expensive treatment before it can be used.

In the meantime, efforts to regulate the groundwater Californians are already using is proceeding slowly – too slowly, according to some.

The biggest recent legislative development for groundwater users was a 2014 law to try to ensure that groundwater is used in a sustainable way. Yet, the real teeth from the law don’t begin to sink in until 2020 and groundwater use doesn’t actually have to become sustainable for another two decades.

This prompted Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, a Democrat who represents Napa, to write a bill that could prohibit new wells from being drilled in areas where groundwater levels are critical.

“This bill seeks to slow this run on wells so there will actually be some groundwater left to manage in 2020,” she wrote in a statement.

The bill stalled amid opposition from agricultural interests and others, including San Diego County, the Sacramento Bee reported.

— Ry Rivard

Homelessness Push Goes Statewide

The historic move among media outlets in San Francisco to aggressively cover homelessness with one collective push has caught fire across the state.

A couple weeks ago, we told you about one effort at the state level to collect data on homelessness and the services homeless people use, in order to inform better policy decisions.

And of course, we’ve been covering homelessness issues in San Diego intensely, most recently revealing the city lied about why it was installing jagged rocks in Sherman Heights, and detailing the surge in homelessness in Oceanside.

We also recently learned that at the federal level, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro has agreed to revisit the formula by which funds are doled out to deal with homelessness – the current formula severely handicaps San Diego, we discovered in 2013.

Here’s a sampling of some of the stories produced across the state as part of the push to cover homelessness:

The Assembly wants Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in order to help address homelessness. (L.A. Times)

Legislators trying to tackle homelessness don’t need to look far to get a sense of the problem: “On the streets surrounding the Capitol, local officials counted 62 people sleeping in March – almost double the number they counted two years earlier,” reports CalMatters.

California Sunday spent time with four different groups of homeless young people, and details their unique circumstances and challenges.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote about how the federal government can supplement local government’s efforts to relieve homelessness. Weirdly, though, she focuses only on Los Angeles and San Francisco, ignoring San Diego’s enormous homeless population (which is larger than San Francisco’s). (Medium)

KQED took reader questions on homelessness and compiled some thoughtful, easy-to-understand answers.

Golden State News

The San Francisco Chronicle is the latest editorial board to excoriate the state Legislature for refusing to move on education reforms.

The state’s energy regulator will undergo a massive shakeup that will include removing some of its power to oversee companies like Uber and Lyft. (L.A. Times)

The Legislature moved forward on gun-control measures this week. (NPR)

A California labor leader writes about growing up undocumented. (Medium)

 Mental health services at many of California’s community colleges are virtually nonexistent. (Capital & Main)

Show Comments
Loading

We’re striving for the best possible discussion and may delete comments using our editorial judgment. All comments containing links will be reviewed by VOSD staff before they are published.
Read our full comment policy.
For longer comments, consider submitting an op-ed to Voice of San Diego.
Read the guidelines here.

We have recently updated our commenting system. If you are unable to submit a comment, please clear the cache and cookies in your browser, or use a private browsing window. Click here for detailed instructions.