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snottyjail006

snottyjail006   , 44

from Vermilion

Statistics

Dignity Health spends big at Levi's Stadium



If you're wondering why health care costs are going sky high, one reason may be the multimillion-dollar skyboxes that two of the Bay Area's biggest "not-for-profit" insurers have bought at the 49ers' new stadium.

Blue Shield of California and Dignity Health each own Levi's Stadium luxury suites, which go for at least $2.5 million apiece.

Dignity, the San Francisco outfit formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, is also the Niners' exclusive health-industry sponsor. It's spending big time to advertise in and around the new Santa Clara stadium as well as on game broadcasts. There's even a "Dignity Health Plaza" at one corner of the $1.2 billion stadium.

"It's scandalous that two not-for-profit health care companies that are exempt from state taxes waste millions of dollars on luxury skyboxes rather than putting those charitable dollars toward patient care or lower premiums," said Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, the group behind Proposition 45 on the November ballot - an initiative that would require California health care companies to get approval from the state insurance commissioner for rate increases.

Dignity officials said in a statement that they were "proud to be the official health care partner of the San Francisco 49ers." They noted that the company "is sponsoring the first-aid clinics located throughout the facility and will be hosting several special health and wellness events throughout the season."

The statement added that "in today's highly competitive health care market, the sponsorships also provide positive visibility and recognition for the Dignity Health brand and the services we provide."

In the meantime, Prop. 45 proponents - with TV cameras in tow - showed up Thursday outside Blue Shield's San Francisco headquarters with a tongue-in-cheek demand from 22,000 customers for tickets to Niners games.

The Prop. 45 folks also tried to buy advertising at Sunday's game on the Jumbotron at Levi's Stadium to tie Blue Shield's skybox to "excessive premiums" and tell fans that the health insurer "has a better view than you."

The Niners rejected the ad.

"We don't sell individual ad space," said team spokesman Bob Lange, telling us that it's strictly reserved for their media partners.

However, Sheri Sadler, an ad buyer for the Prop. 45 campaign, said she was told by an ad rep in an e-mail that "the 49ers are a little reluctant to promote one side or the other (of a political issue) so as not to alienate fans."

Oakland shift: With just seven weeks until the election, tactics in Oakland's mayoral race may be about to shift from "anyone but Quan" to "let's gang up on Rebecca."

That would be City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who a new poll shows is the clear front-runner.

According to the David Binder poll, paid for by the business-friendly Jobs and Housing Coalition, Kaplan scores 61 percent of the vote compared with Mayor Jean Quan's 39 percent in a ranked-choice voting scenario pitting the two head-to-head.

Kaplan also leads the pack in first-, second- and third-place votes, according to the poll of 400 voters taken from Sept. 2 to 8. Its margin of error is 4.9 percentage points.

The poll shows that about 60 percent of Oakland voters surveyed say they're ready for a change - not good news for Quan.

And at this point, that desire for change favors Kaplan - who not only bests Quan, but also beats San Francisco State political communications Professor Joe Tuman in a head-to-head contest, 64 to 36 percent.

Most of the candidates, including Councilwoman Libby Schaaf, City Auditor Courtney Ruby, Port Commissioner Bryan Parker and civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, come in with 10 percent or less of the first-place votes - meaning they'll have to do something dramatic to make it into the running.

And with 1 in 5 Oakland voters still undecided, one of their tactics will probably be to raise questions about Kaplan.

Sideshow Arnold: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the Capitol had all the trimmings of his years in office - highly scripted and tightly controlled events that were ultimately overtaken by a carnival sideshow of his own making.

The day kicked off with a Nobel laureate-laden confab on climate change put on by Schwarzenegger's institute at the University of Southern California. But when reporters approached Schwarzenegger afterward, they were held back by Arnold's private security and told, "No questions - only still photos allowed."

It was much the same scene an hour later under the rotunda of the Capitol, with a beaming Arnold again front and center for the unveiling of his official portrait.

"Never have I seen so many people - and so many cameras - for a news conference," said Gov. Jerry Brown. "Arnold, you still have it."

As the portrait was unveiled, Schwarzenegger posed for photos with two of his sons, Patrick and Christopher - but no daughters and no sign of estranged wife Maria Shriver.

Not only was Shriver not at the event, but a couple of days later it emerged that she had been scrubbed from the portrait. Now, that's all anyone remembers about the event.

In other words - a total Arnold.

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Matier can be seen on the KPIX TV morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815, or e-mail matierandross@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @matierandross