By Doug Porter
The release of a statewide list of census tracts most impacted by pollution by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) will add to the controversy surrounding two ballot measures presented to San Diego voters in the upcoming election.
A story in today’s Los Angeles Times, along with a scalable map, provides a dramatic assessment of impacts by types of contaminants within neighborhoods throughout the state. The CEPA report gives advocates for the Barrio Logan Community Plan hard evidence supporting their contentions concerning health problems caused by the current mix of industrial and residential uses.
Opponents of the Community Plan have dismissed health claims about industrial pollution as the cause of asthma and other health problems, blaming nearby freeways for contaminants. The CEPA study clearly indicates a serious problem with the release of toxic contaminants– as opposed to diesel particulates– into the air specific to the Barrio Logan area.
From a June, 2013 story about air pollution in Barrio Logan via the Reader:
The bad air seems hardest on the youth here. The numbers of children with asthma is triple that of the national average, according to data compiled by the State of California and the Environmental Health Coalition, a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to achieving environmental and social justice. The respiratory disorder affects shift workers and laborers, as well, a moveable population that outnumbers Barrio Logan residents by more than two to one.
“Asthma is the most common disease of participants that we address with the disease-management program,” International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 political director Jen Badgley recently told a joint meeting of port commissioners and city-council members. “Our members don’t just work in the city. We live in neighborhoods like Barrio Logan.”
“My husband worked at NASSCO for 35 years,” says Maria Maya. She works for the Environmental Health Coalition as a community organizer. “The people that retire from there? They don’t live very long past their retirement. They are the first line of the impact of the pollution. We have worked with NASSCO about doing more eco-friendly ways of welding, for example, but everything we do is a struggle because of the workers. That job is their bread and butter. They don’t care [about their health] until they get sick.”
Here’s the detail on the CEPA program via the LA Times story:
By providing the public with an objective accounting of conditions in areas as small as a few thousand residents, Cal/EPA has created a powerful tool to spur regulators to act in highly polluted neighborhoods, state officials and environmental activists say…
…The screening tool, called CalEnviroScreen, was developed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, a branch of Cal/EPA, to pinpoint the communities with the highest exposure and vulnerability to multiple environmental hazards, including polluted air and water, waste facilities and contaminated soil.
Broken Promises, Dirty Air and a Pile of Lies
Multinational corporations owning shipbuilding facilities nearby walked away from an agreed-upon compromise with community groups last year, and mounted a signature drive campaign to get voters city-wide to reject the plan in the June primary election..
The San Diego Ship Repair Association, primarily funded by BAE Systems, Continental Maritime San Diego, and General Dynamics/NASSCO, hired Southwest Strategies, a lobbying/PR group specializing “in securing government entitlements for complex projects” to lobby the city council to oppose the plan.
When that failed, the same actors banded together under the moniker “Protect Our Jobs,” hoping to blackmail the city council into overturning the plan and going back to the drawing board by collecting signatures for two initiatives. This was inspired by similar tactics used by WalMart (also represented by Southwest Strategies) that successfully forced the city council to rescind a policy requiring economic impact studies for big box stores in the city limits.
Using exaggerations, lies and hyperbole, paid signature collectors worked shopping centers outside the community. Shoppers were told (erroneously) that tens of thousands of jobs would leave the area, the US Navy would pull out of San Diego and that the community plan was actually a ploy by big developers to build hipster condominiums.
Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp agreed with claims made by Environmental Health Coalition attorney Marco Gonzalez that the association purposely provided false information to signature gatherers, claiming the Navy would leave San Diego in addition to 46,000 jobs and $14 billion dollars, if the community plan was approved.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the ballot measures. From Dorian Hargrove at the Reader:
“[Environmental Health Coalition] has met its burden to show the likelihood of prevailing on its claim that at least one of the three statement made by [the] association was misleading,” read Trapp’s judgement. “The statement was not an opinion based upon the statements within the maritime report. nonetheless, this evidence does not meet the high standard set forth [in previous court cases].”
With it being the final day for the ballot measures to be placed on the ballot, community members in favor of the new zoning regulations have little recourse asides from trying to defeat the item through public opinion.
The community plan will be on the June 3 ballot as Propositions B & C.
A “Yes” vote is a vote FOR implementation of the Barrio Logan Community Plan. The only impact on the shipbuilding industry will be the establishment of a buffer zone–allowing existing business to continue in place– between the industrial and residential areas.
A “Yes” vote is also a clear opportunity to vote AGAINST the kind of nasty and dishonest campaigning that we’ve seen so much of in recent years.
A “Yes” vote is also a vote to protect YOUR neighborhood community plan from being overturned by outside interests. People in Clairemont, Bay Park and Linda Vista who oppose the imposition of new 60’ tall building limit should look at this as an opportunity to make the voices heard.
The Hospitality Outrage: CEO Pay vs Line Employees
City Council President Todd Gloria will have released the details of a proposed hike in the minimum wage paid within the city limits by the time you read this. No matter what the “number” he suggests for voter consideration this fall, the loudest howling against any increase locally will come from the local hospitality industry.
At its root, calls for increased minimum wages at the locality level (which is happening all over the country) is a response to the profound growth in economic inequality over the past four decades, combined with an equally profound political failure to respond at the federal level. The inequality story has dominated national headlines, especially the astounding gains of the top 1 percent.
In response to the pity party sure to be staged by the local hospitality industry, here’s the primary findings via a lengthy study released yesterday by Demos.org:
Analysis of US company-level pay disparity shows that Accommodation and Food Services is the most unequal sector in the American economy, driven by extreme inequality within the fast food industry.
Accommodation and Food Services had a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 543-to-1 in 2012. Over the period from 2000 to 2012 the average ratio was 332-to-1, 44 percent higher than the sector with the next-highest compensation ratio.
In 2012, the compensation of fast food CEOs was more than 1,200 times the earnings of the average fast food worker. Proxy disclosures recently released by fast food companies reveal that the ratio remained above 1,000-to-1 in 2013.
Then there’s the newly released report from the Institute for Policy Studies that says not only are taxpayers paying for government assistance for hospitality employees, we’re also subsidizing their CEO’s pay via tax breaks:
This report calculates the cost of CEO pay subsidies at the 20 largest corporate members of the National Restaurant Association, a lobby group that is leading the charge to block minimum wage increases. Specifically, we calculate the cost of a loophole that allows corporations to deduct unlimited amounts from their income taxes for the cost of executive compensation — as long as the pay is in the form of stock options and other so-called “performance pay.” This loophole serves as a massive subsidy for excessive executive compensation.
One of the report’s key findings:
During the past two years, the CEOs of the 20 largest NRA members pocketed more than $662 million in fully deductible “performance pay,” lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $232 million. That would be enough to cover the cost of food stamps for more than 145,000 households for a year.
Since we’re talking restaurants, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention wage theft.
And, finally here’s former San Diegan and restaurateur Jay Porter* writing “A Small Business Owner’s Case for Raising the Minimum Wage” via Slate.com.
We can talk macroeconomics all we want, but I believe most of us are going to give or withhold our support for raising the minimum wage based largely on our perceived self-interest. So with that in mind, here’s my self-interest: As a small business owner in the restaurant industry, I think a higher minimum wage is great for my business and me. Make the wage $15 an hour. Make it $20. Make it high enough that dishwashers get paid like office workers.
Here’s why. A higher minimum wage helps reduce the structural advantages large corporations have over small businesses, and that in turn helps create a context where high-quality independent businesses can thrive by overdelivering compared to our better-capitalized, but mediocre, big competitors.
Dining Out for Life
Here is something the hospitality business does locally in the way of good things.
More than 80 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in San Diego will be donating a minimum of 25% of their sales on Thursday, April 24th for The Center’s HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. The event is called Dining Out for Life and I strongly urge you to participate.
For a list of participating establishments, go here.
On This Day: 1635 – The Boston Public Latin School was established. It was the first public school building in the United States 1985 – The Coca-Cola Company announced that it was changing its 99-year-old secret formula. New Coke flopped, resulting in the resumption of selling the original version. 2005 – The first video was uploaded to YouTube.com
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