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Here’s a prize you don’t want to win: Whopper of the Year.
The contenders are 15 statements that we’ve previously determined false, including four that we rated Huckster Propaganda. We’re not awarding a trophy or prize money, but the title conveys a fitting level of notoriety.
Today, we’re posting a list of the top false claims and inviting your feedback. Which factual blunder do you think stands out above the rest? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and explain your reasoning.
After the New Year, we’ll post a narrowed list of finalists and invite your feedback once again. Then, on Friday, Jan. 7, we’ll announce our choice for Whopper of the Year and explain the consensus among readers.
So, without further adieu, here’s the list of false claims and links to our analyses. The Huckster Propaganda statements are listed separately at the bottom.
False Statements: (Listed in chronological order)
“… service levels have been reduced in every department and nearly 200 people lost their jobs,” City Council President Ben Hueso said about budget cuts in his State of District 8 speech Feb. 4. | Actually 23 people lost their jobs.
“By partnering with the private sector to provide services we have saved over $390 million,” County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said in her State of the County speech Feb. 10. | Try $183 million.
“Yes, a wave of twelve children with measles in San Diego is a troubling thing. But, there are more than 20,000 children in San Diego with autism!” Jenny McCarthy, the actress and anti-vaccine activist, wrote in a column published by the Huffington Post on April 28. | Way less than 20,000.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has not hired anyone in two years, she told the North County Times during an exclusive interview with its editorial board May 6. | We counted 79.
“We’re the only country in the world that does this — have your child [on American soil] and that child becomes a citizen,” County Supervisor Bill Horn said on the KPBS program These Days on May 6. | We’re not alone.
“About 20 to 30 percent of the people in our state prisons today are from another country besides America. They’re in this country illegally,” Jay LaSuer, one of three candidates campaigning for sheriff, said during a televised forum on KUSI in May. | At most, 13 percent.
OxyContin, the powerful prescription pain killer, is the “leading cause of drug-related deaths in San Diego County,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a public safety panel June 22. | Six drugs deadlier.
“Our taxes have gone down ladies and gentlemen. You are paying less taxes today than you were paying last year and the year before and the year before that,” Council President Ben Hueso said at a City Council hearing July 26. | Sorry ladies and gents. You’re paying more.
“No other city has had discussions about retiree health reform. We’re in those discussions and negotiations and we’ll continue with those,” Mayor Jerry Sanders at a press conference Aug. 5 promoting November’s financial reform ballot measure, Proposition D. | And the survey says … numerous cities!
“That water (from purified sewage) is three to four times as expensive as anything else. Desalinated water has gotten cheaper because they’ve improved the technology for taking the salt out of the water. … We can create more water through desalination and through reclamation at a far cheaper cost than the toilet-to-tap project. It’s economically unviable, in my view,” Bob Kittle, KUSI’s director of news planning and content, said Sept. 10 on Editor’s Roundtable on KPBS. | Purified sewage not so expensive.
“Every single year in eight years that the site was located next to it, we had what are called emergency shutdowns,” City Council President Ben Hueso said Oct. 22 at a City Council meeting about placing a temporary winter homeless shelter near Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan. | The principal told CityBeat he counted zero shutdowns.
Huckster Propaganda Statements:
“PLAs deny nearly 85 percent of California’s construction workforce the ability to do public work projects … PLAs put special interests ahead of the public interest by restricting the bidding process to ONLY contractors backed by big labor unions…,” Eric Christen, executive director of Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, wrote in an editorial published in the San Diego Daily Transcript on March 1. | Both union and nonunion can bid.
“And if you look at this law that Arizona signed, that Arizona put into place, police — all the sheriffs are behind it, the police chiefs are behind it,” U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, said on KPBS April 28. | Some publicly opposed it.
“It (the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) began the funding of research, spreading it around the globe. At this point, it had billions and billions of dollars. I saw a total yesterday: $47 billion in federal and international funds have been spent to research global warming,” KUSI weathercaster John Coleman told a local Rotary club April 29. | It doesn’t fund research.
“I have been investigated up and down by almost every possible agency, to no avail, reported my income and paid my taxes,” former CCDC president Nancy Graham said in a comment posted on the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post’s website Sept. 8. | To no avail? Graham was fined $32,000.