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19 May 1999 Issue
Fur Tag Measure Defeated

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Voters in star-studded Beverly Hills Tuesday over-
whelmingly rejected a measure to require tags on fur coats with labels
saying how the animals were killed -- electrocuted, gassed, clubbed or put
to sleep painlessly. The proposal had set the fur flying in this town full of
swanky designer stores, pitting animal rights activists and stars such as Jack
Lemmon and broadcaster Larry King against businesses and fashion fanatics.

City spokeswoman Robin Chancellor said 63.8 percent of voters cast their
ballots against the measure, with 36.2 supporting it, although absentee ballots
had not yet been counted.

Chancellor said that with votes from all six precincts in the city counted, 3,363
people voted against the measure, with 1,908 casting ballots in favor. She
said about 25 percent of the 20,000 registered voters in Beverly Hills went to
the polls.

The proposition would have required any garment containing fur valued at $50
or more to carry a warning tag unless the store could verify that the animal
was killed in a humane fashion. The tag would have stated: "This product is
made with fur from animals that may have been killed by electrocution,
gassing, neck breaking, poisoning, clubbing, stomping or drowning, and may
have been trapped in steel-jaw, leghold traps.''

Beverly Hills furriers said they risked going out of business if the measure
had passed and were angry that animal rights activists succeeded in shining
an unwelcome spotlight on Beverly Hills' status as one of the wealthiest
communities in the United States.

"Most of our 20,000 clients think the whole issue is ridiculous. The animal
rights people are just doing it for the shock value. They're trying to put the
industry out of business,'' said Douglas Fine of Somper Furs, which has
been selling minks to the stars for more than 50 years.

Los Angeles Times columnist Al Martinez said the proposal epitomized the
image of self-conscious silliness for which Beverly Hills is renowned. "The
fur label is goofy, a product of minds too narrow to embrace other ideals,''
Martinez wrote.

But the Humane Society, one of a host of animal protection groups that
backed the measure, argued that it is wrong to kill animals for the sake of
fashion.

"It is all the more absurd that people wear fur in a Mediterranean climate
like Beverly Hills. It is gaudiness and cruelty at its absolute worst,'' said
Humane Society spokesman Wayne Pacelle.

The measure was placed on the ballot after the Beverly Hills Consumers for
Informed Choice collected more than 3,000 signatures from voters in the
city. A fierce battle then raged on billboards and in local newspapers, with
both sides recruiting among the town's millionaire residents for support.

John Paul de Jouria, founder of the Paul Mitchell hair care line, was among
those lending his name to the "Yes'' campaign. I built a multimillion dollar
business here in a city based on the principle that consumers seek products
that don't involve cruelty to animals,'' he said.

Source: BHGazette@aol.com

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