On condom measure, AIDS director claims City Attorney has 'confused relationship with democracy'

Adult film actress Ela Darling speaks in this June 2011 file photo in Los Angeles, where the use of condoms during film production was discussed.
Adult film actress Ela Darling speaks in this June 2011 file photo in Los Angeles, where the use of condoms during film production was discussed. Nick Ut / AP

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has gathered enough signatures to place a ballot measure before LA city voters in June. It would mandate the use of condoms by male adult film actors, but Carmen Trutanich, the LA City Attorney, believes only the state can create such a law.

Michael Weinstein, the Executive Director of the foundation, told KPCC’s Steve Julian Tuesday that Trutanich and other politicians usually stay away from this type of touchy subject.

"I think that Mr. Trutanich, the City Attorney, has a confused relationship with democracy and I think overall that politicians have had a big 'ick factor' here. They just don't want to deal with the issue and they've consistently avoided it," Weinstein explained.

"But now you have the spectacle of the head of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for administering these laws, saying that the city has jurisdiction. The city says it has a better idea of who is in charge than the agency that has been mandated to do this? It doesn't make sense."

The foundation was only required to get 41,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. They gathered approximately 71,000. Weinstein said they had no trouble getting enough people to sign the petition.

"It was not difficult at all," Weinstein said. "The overwhelming majority of people - liberal and conservative, of all ages and genders - understand this issue as an issue of fairness and worker protection."

An L.A. judge now has to decide if voters can adopt the proposed law or if the mandate lies within the jurisdiction of the State of California. Earlier this month, L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to answer that question. William Carter is Chief Deputy City Attorney for Los Angeles.

"The action brought by the city is not seeking to stop the initiative [and] is not seeking to judge the initiative," said William Carter, chief deputy city attorney for L.A. "It is asking the court to clarify whether or not the proposed initiative conflicts with state law or is preempted by state law."

Carter pointed out that the City of Los Angeles has already spent more than $350,000 dollars qualifying the signatures. He says the city needs a ruling before it spends another 4.4 million dollars putting the measure before LA voters.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a statement Tuesday reiterating that it is "committed to the health and well being of all residents. As such, we have taken action to address sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in the adult film industry. These actions include monitoring, surveillance and investigation of reportable cases of communicable disease, and promotion of increased education, consistent use of condoms, and testing and treatment within the adult film industry."

The statement concluded by saying, "the County of Los Angeles continues to strongly support state legislation, Cal/OSHA regulations, and the regulatory role of Cal/OSHA as the most appropriate means to regulate the practices in the adult film industry that expose performers to unnecessary and preventable occupational risks of acquiring and transmitting these diseases. "

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