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Steve Ballmer Wades Into LA Public Policy

Ballmer put his wealth behind an education measure on the June 4th ballot in Los Angeles.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, June 4, Los Angeles voters weighed in on a few random races and measures, including “Measure EE,” which proposed a parcel tax to bring more money into the LA Unified School District.

What does this have to do with the Clippers? Well, if you saw any of the TV ads advocating for the measure, you might have noticed that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s name made an appearance in the “credits” — a requirement that instructs measures to disclose their biggest donors for the sake of transparency. Ballmer earned this distinction by giving a personal donation of $500,000 to the committee that advocated for the measure.

Labor unions connected to L.A. Unified are among the biggest funders of the Yes on EE campaign. Local business and philanthropic leaders in support include Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Eli Broad, a major charter school supporter who said the funding would help all public schools. — LA Times, Howard Blume

Ballmer personally donated the half a million dollars to help the measure get 2/3 approval from voters (note: at the time of writing this blog post, the measure is slightly under 50%.).

Regardless of if the measure passes or not, or the merits of the measure at all, Ballmer’s decision to engage in Los Angeles’ public policy in this way is extremely notable. To me, it means that he is taking seriously the tradition of wealthy philanthropists sponsoring civic programs and initiatives in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has long been lifted by philanthropic billionaires who build museums and help politicians pay for their community initiatives. Ballmer stepping up in this way is a good sign for those who are worried about Ballmer having an eye on Seattle.

Moreover, I believe that Clips Nation can see this as Ballmer giving the city a sign of good faith as it continues to work through its stadium planning and construction. This could be a helpful factor in getting the stadium approved so it can be complete by the time the Staples Center lease runs out in 2024.

This move by Ballmer comes a year after the Clippers’ Foundation also pledged $10 million to rebuild basketball courts in the city last spring. All in all, it seems like Steve Ballmer is dedicated to making an impact on the city of Los Angeles. Not only will it help the people of LA, but it will boost Ballmer’s own brand — and potentially even that of the Clippers. Good for Steve for trying to give back to the city!