Doug Porter

Thumbnail image for Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

by Doug Porter 04.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

While lots of local politicos are willing to give at least lip service towards increasing the minimum wage or creating affordable housing, the abject lack of interest in rectifying a government sponsored system of exploitation in the local taxi industry is staggering.

The medallion based system of licensing currently in place in San Diego, wherein drivers pay for the privilege of leasing a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy, insures consumers of two things: scarcity of service and higher fares. This form of regulation might have made sense 80 years ago in New York city when it was started, but today a privileged few and the politicians they fund are the only beneficiaries.

Of all things revealed in a 2013 San Diego State University/Center for Policy Initiatives study–the unsafe working conditions, the dangerous vehicles, the exploitation of drivers–it would appear that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s response will be limited to the vehicles themselves and, perhaps, record keeping issues.

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Thumbnail image for Supreme Court to Consider Lies in Political Ads

Supreme Court to Consider Lies in Political Ads

by Doug Porter 04.16.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Not even George Orwell could have predicted this; an anti-abortion group is challenging Ohio’s law making it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the case involves billboard ads funded by the Susan B. Anthony List accusing an Ohio congressman of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions based on his support of the Affordable Care Act. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Concerns about any Supreme Court ruling in this case stem from a ruling (made on the same day the court upheld most sections of Obamacare) overturning the conviction of Xavier Alvarez for violating the 2006 Stolen Valor Act making it a crime for a person to falsely claim, orally or in writing, “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” The 6-3 decision asserted  the act was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

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Thumbnail image for Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

by Doug Porter 04.15.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It seems appropriate on tax day, given the annual media binge of gratuitous coverage of Tea Party protests at Post Offices and editorial cartoons demonizing the Internal Revenue Service, to survey the political landscape and make some comments about where we find ourselves in 2014.

The vast majority of stories you’ll see repeated by tax protesters on the evening news today are simply bullshit–not that any of these so-called “reporters” will actually fact check them. If some guy carrying a sign about the Muslim socialist in the White House screams ignorant slogans about the gubment, it must be news. Because “everybody knows” all these things they say must be true.

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Thumbnail image for Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

by Doug Porter 04.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

He doesn’t speak for anyone, UT-San Diego sports columnist Kevin Acee says, and he won’t be heard by anyone. Thus, his page-one-worthy column about the likely scenario for a new football stadium ended up on page D-4 in Sunday’s paper.

The story was actually posted on Friday afternoon online, and its significance becomes apparent when you realize that nearly 150 people had posted comments before the dead tree edition hit the streets.

The Chargers stadium scenario story is supposed to be nothing more than informed speculation, of course. Except that (I’d bet) it’s not. Call it a trial balloon, floated in the wake of a ‘preliminary’ meeting between team representatives and the mayor’s minions last Wednesday.

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Thumbnail image for Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

by Doug Porter 04.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Higher ups in the San Diego Police Department may have been more concerned about negative publicity than getting at the facts about accusations alleging sexual misconduct as far back as 1997 by former police officer Anthony Arevalos from according to federal court transcripts obtained by 10News.

A confidential meeting between former chief William Lansdowne and Executive Chief David Ramirez, according to attorney Joe Dicks in publicly released transcripts of oral arguments that reference still-sealed depositions, was held “to try and figure out not if it really happened, not if there are any witnesses left, only to take documentation that is going to come around and bite them in the bottom.”

I looked around the local media this morning. Aside from a mention the VOSD Morning Report, the local media seems to treating this as a non-story.

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Thumbnail image for Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

by Doug Porter 04.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s been on quite a tear lately, putting forth a smiling face at press conferences in various neighborhoods around the city. Yesterday cameras rolled as the mayor and local politicos including Councilman Todd Gloria posed and preened over a gateway renovation project on 25th Street in Golden Hill.

Hizzoner says he’s making good on campaign promises to direct more monies (50% of revenue growth, as I recollect) toward street and infrastructure repair. He proudly announced yesterday that $22 million of the anticipated $35 million growth in next year’s inflow would be dedicated to that cause.  

It played real well on TV. Sadly, the truth of the situation is that revenue growth, which will likely come from an improving economy, can’t even begin to address the $1 billion hole San Diego faces when it comes to the basic the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed locally.

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Thumbnail image for Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

by Doug Porter 04.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

So the word on the street, courtesy of columnist Logan Jenkins, is that former mayor Bob Filner is writing a book and looking for an editor. The UT-San Diego columnist has offered to “anonymously ghostwrite. Gratis.”    

I’m sure there any number of San Diego journos who’d love the opportunity. I remember reading lots of self-righteous tweets and barely concealed contempt in coverage by too many of this town’s “reporters.” After all, writing anything else might have excluded them from the crafty beer klatches and opportunities to genuflect before local luminaries so necessary to generate “coverage.”

I can only hope Filner’s period of confinement and reflection has re-enforced the (obvious) notion that “none-of-the-above” would be the only right choice to make when it comes to local scribes.

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Thumbnail image for Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

by Doug Porter 04.08.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Three Republican members of the San Diego City Council joined two of their Democratic colleagues to appoint Point Loma resident Ed Harris yesterday to serve out the remaining eight months of newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s term.

Harris, who heads the city’s lifeguard union, received support from council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman, Sherri Lightner and David Alvarez. Democrats will now have a 6-3 majority, theoretically giving them enough votes to override any vetoes from San Diego’s Republican mayor.

The appointed councilman was sworn in immediately following the vote. Harris is prohibited by the city charter from running for election to the seat, so he must step down when his term ends in early December.

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Thumbnail image for At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

by Doug Porter 04.07.2014 Books & Poetry

By Doug Porter

Congressman Scott Peters and seventeen other Democrats responded to the clarion call of the dirty food lobby last week by joining with House Republicans in their 55th attempt to to scale back or repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Following intensive lobbying and publicity events by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (hotels won’t be able to provide 24 hour service any more) and the National Restaurant Association (we’ll simply cut employee hours) the House of Representatives voted last week 248 to 179 to change the law’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40 hours.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says about one million people would lose employer-backed coverage and the number of uninsured would climb by nearly 500,000 if the law’s work definitions were changed.

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Thumbnail image for Truth Maybe, But No Consequences for Balboa Park Centennial Screw Ups

Truth Maybe, But No Consequences for Balboa Park Centennial Screw Ups

by Doug Porter 03.27.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter
The mismanagement of efforts to stage a year-long centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California exposition continues to make headlines today.

A City Council committee order an audit of public funds spent by Balboa Park Celebration Inc. yesterday. A follow-up hearing on April 23 was set by Councilman David Alvarez to measure progress toward production of records and along with information on the shutdown of BCPI.    

Voice of San Diego drew upon its network of movers and shakers (a side benefit of continual fund raising) to produce a report on centennial efforts including points of view from insiders and those close to the soon-to-be-defunct nonprofit.

(I am leaving for town for 8 days starting on Friday, March 28th. Therefore, my daily column will not be appearing again until April 7th.)

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Thumbnail image for Balboa Park Celebration Leadership Snubs City Council Hearing

Balboa Park Celebration Leadership Snubs City Council Hearing

by Doug Porter 03.26.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The outrageous conduct by the leadership for the Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. continues.

After blowing through nearly $3 million during the past three years with nothing to show for it, BPCI co-chair Nikki Clay and transition director Gerry Braun have told the City Council’s Environment Committee that they’ll be unavailable for a hearing today.

Committee chair David Alvarez is looking for answers, requesting a report be provided regarding the soon-to-be-defunct group’s activities and along with an explanation for the $13,000-a-month salary being paid to Braun while he winds things down.

UPDATE: Braun did appear, after all. According to one observer:

He was grilled by Marti Emerald for a delightfully painful 20-25 minutes. He stayed on message and script as best he could, but he had no answers to the good questions. 

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Thumbnail image for City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

City Council Makes First Step Towards Raising the Minimum Wage in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The room was packed yesterday for a meeting of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee as Councilman Todd Gloria successfully gained approval to draft ballot language on a measure proposed for the November ballot raising the minimum wage and granting paid sick leave for San Diegans.

Gloria will consult with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and bring the measure back for consideration by the committee on April 30th. We can only hope the City Councilman president has the language double-checked by an outside attorney who doesn’t have a vested ideological interest in the measure failing.

A coalition of faith-based, community and labor groups called Raise Up San Diego! turned out over 100 people carrying neon green signs expressing support for the concept yesterday. They’ll need to keep the pressure on until the full council takes a vote (no later than the end of August) for the measure to appear on the ballot.

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Thumbnail image for Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

Three Years, Three Million Dollars, Three Excuses and Now, Three More Months for Failed Balboa Park Centennial Group

by Doug Porter 03.24.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Board members with the failed Balboa Park Celebration, Inc.(BPCI) have taken their case to KPBS, blaming ex-mayor Bob Filner, the failure of Plaza de Panama parking plan and the competing agendas of park organizations for their group’s lack of accomplishments.

Details revealed in the first of a two part series, including comments from co-chair Nikki Clay, Stephen Russell and Patti Roscoe, by reporter Angela Carone paint a sad picture of the planning and preparations for a year long centennial celebration.

The release on Friday of a Transition Agreement empowering BPCI staffer Gerry Braun to handle shutdown of the organization (and collect another $39,000 while doing so) has just added to outrage felt by those in the community already upset with the group.

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Thumbnail image for Special Report: Get Ready for the Anti-Minimum Wage Tsunami of Lies in San Diego

Special Report: Get Ready for the Anti-Minimum Wage Tsunami of Lies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.21.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime over the next couple of months the San Diego City Council will consider a ballot measure for November raising the minimum wage. Although California has already enacted legislation boosting the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 next July and $10 by January 2016, research by the Center on Policy Initiatives indicates those raises fall way short of the $13 per hour wage necessary to live here without government assistance.

Raising the minimum wage polls well with the public. Just last week a limited advisory referendum urging the Chicago City council to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour (for corporations with over $50 million in annual sales) passed with an overwhelming 87% approval. Nationally a variety of surveys indicate two thirds of voters favor increasing the mandated minimums.

Today we’ll take a look at how business interests both nationally and locally are working to defeat increases in pay for low wage workers. Given that  a significant number of San Diegans were naive enough to believe that the US Navy was preparing to leave town (the Barrio Logan referendum), the downtown clowns who perpetrated that falsehood can be expected to roll out the mother of all shock and awe campaigns as fall approaches.

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Thumbnail image for Increasing San Diego’s Minimum Wage: If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu

Increasing San Diego’s Minimum Wage: If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu

by Doug Porter 03.20.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The ‘Improving Wages and Working Conditions’ measure is set to be introduced at the City Council Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations (EDIR) Committee on Monday morning. In addition to calling for an increase in the minimum wage, the proposed initiative would also guarantee workers up to five earned sick days.

While serving as iMayor, Councilman Todd Gloria made a bold pledge to get a measure before the voters that would raise local minimum wages. He’s now softened that pledge a bit making it clear that the actual amount of any increase is negotiable. And the opening negotiating position for the Chamber of Commerce (and their as yet silent allies) is: Zero.

While advocates and opponents of increasing the minimum wage each have studies that purport to back up their claims, there can be no doubt about the realities that the value of dollars earned by low wage workers has decreased and the unsustainability of trying to eke out a living on the lower end of the payscale in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Sunshine Week: It’s Not About the Weather in San Diego

Sunshine Week: It’s Not About the Weather in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.19.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Sunshine Week is not another tourism promotion for San Diego. It’s about open government. The public’s right to know. And if there’s one place in the country that could use more of this type of sunshine, it’s San Diego.

America’s Finest City, as boosters are wont to call it, has a sordid history of corrupt mayors, underhanded deals blessed by city hall, and failed civic leadership. As in past decades, local apologists would like to have us believe this is all old news or, at worst, ending with the removal of the most recent ex-Mayor-who-can-not-be-named.

Today we’ll take a look at recent events connected with more open governance on the local scene, or at least the illusion thereof. Yesterday (Tuesday, March 18th)  included two seemingly contradictory events that speak to the popular notion of keeping the activities of government accessible to those of us who ultimately pay for it.

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Thumbnail image for Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D –  Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

Vladimir P’s Got Nothing on Bonnie D – Spin to Win Charged in Deputy DAs’ Unanimous Endorsement

by Doug Porter 03.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Vladimir Putin may know how to rig an election, as his minions probably did in pulling off 97% approval for Crimean secession from the Ukraine this past weekend, but District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis know how to spin one: don’t bother with actual votes, just claim a unanimous victory.

Following a February vote from the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association, the Dumanis campaign issued a press release declaring, “Deputy District Attorneys Announce Unanimous Endorsement of DA Bonnie Dumanis, ” followed by “BREAKING: Deputy DAs unanimously endorse Dumanis” on Twitter.

UT-San Diego ran with a story saying that the board of the Deputy DAs Association unanimously endorsed the incumbent.

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Thumbnail image for The Sound of One Fin Flapping – San Diego’s SeaWorld ‘Debate’

The Sound of One Fin Flapping – San Diego’s SeaWorld ‘Debate’

by Doug Porter 03.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

A couple of weeks back Assemblyman Richard Bloom introduced AB 2140, legislation that would put a stop to the practice of using orcas as performers, along with ending captive breeding programs and trafficking of the species in California.

SeaWorld, which has been in major damage control mode since release of the Blackfish documentary last fall, has seized upon this opportunity to bring its story to the media. There has been a virtual blitzkreig of coverage about the many wonderful accomplishments of this salt water-based amusement park.

Given that the San Diego City Council will most likely be declaring March to be “Sea World San Diego’s 50th Anniversary Month” later this week, we’ll take a look at some of the local reportage and commentary on this subject today.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Charter Teachers: Bullying Contributed to Death of Colleague

San Diego Charter Teachers: Bullying Contributed to Death of Colleague

by Doug Porter 03.14.2014 Columns

School Board meeting not ‘the time or place’ to discuss confidential personnel matter of a Teach for America instructor, says Harriet Tubman Principal

By Doug Porter

I didn’t write the headline for today’s column. It’s a headline at Education Week, a nationally recognized print and digital (edweek.org) publication. With a staff of over 70 and budget of over $13 million annually, it’s hardly the product of some basement blogger. Amazingly, it’s about a story nobody else in the San Diego media seems to have covered.

The EdWeek story is about a meeting of the San Diego Unified School Board on Tuesday, March 11th. The charter for the Harriet Tubman Village Charter School was up for renewal. A group of  parents, teachers and students wearing blue bravely stood up before the Trustees and proceeded to raise serious questions about the way the school is operated.

Accusations were made suggesting violations of both the Education Code and State Law by the school’s administration. And the suggestion was made that the bullying tactics and leadership style at Harriet Tubman contributed to the death of Sarah Jenkins, “a young, bright, dedicated, caring first year teacher at Tubman.”

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Thumbnail image for Spinning the San Diego Convention Center’s Future Business

Spinning the San Diego Convention Center’s Future Business

by Doug Porter 03.13.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s tourism moguls have been playing with numbers again and that’s always a scary prospect.

Last year we heard all about how the local economy was headed for doom and devastation unless the anointed magnates of the trade were allowed to spend a big pile of money collected via a fee-that-was-not-a-tax facing significant legal challenges. The ex-Mayor-who-cannot-be-named thought it might be reasonable to ask some protection for taxpayers should hoteliers lose their case.

Now we’re hearing about “hotel-ageddon” because of legal challenges connected with the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center. City Council members sitting on the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee heard the bad news yesterday. One convention booked for 2016 is reconsidering, we’re told, another “might be”, and -gasp-even though they haven’t said anything, the almighty lords of ComicCon are concerned.

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Thumbnail image for Senator Feinstein Breaks Ranks, Says CIA Broke the Law, Spied on Congress

Senator Feinstein Breaks Ranks, Says CIA Broke the Law, Spied on Congress

by Doug Porter 03.12.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The US intelligence community has always counted California’s Dianne Feinstein as a strong supporter.  As head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she countered attempts to rein in NSA surveillance by introducing legislation codifying many of the questionable practices.

She stepped right up to the plate within days after former contractor Edward Snowden handed out secret documents to reporters, denouncing him as a traitor.And it’s no secret that her campaigns are laden with hefty contributions from many of the companies who now do much of the heavy lifting for the military-intelligence industrial complex.  

So it was kind of a big deal when she took to the floor of the Senate yesterday to accuse the CIA of obstruction and intimidation of her committee’s work on a five year old investigation into the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.

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Thumbnail image for SDPD Strip Club Raid Raises More Integrity Questions

SDPD Strip Club Raid Raises More Integrity Questions

by Doug Porter 03.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

It was another bad day for the San Diego Police Department. A group calling itself FED UP-San Diegans Against Police Sexual Misconduct held a morning press conference in front of the Hall of Justice demanding accountability for the repeated sexual assaults by SDPD officers.

Holding up signs that said “I am Jane Doe,” referring to the a victim currently battling the city in court demanding an outside monitor for the SDPD, the group demanded sweeping changes within the department.

And then the Washington Post posted a story –originally reported on Saturday by ABC 10News– about a police department raid on a local strip club. Ten armed officers wearing bulletproof vests closed down the Cheetah Club, located in Kearny Mesa on Thursday night. In addition to checking for permits, the officers lined up the women working at the club and photographed them in their semi-nude attire.

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Thumbnail image for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith: The Leviathan for San Diego’s Civic Netherworld

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith: The Leviathan for San Diego’s Civic Netherworld

by Doug Porter 03.10.2014 Columns

According to demonology, the Leviathan is the gatekeeper among the seven princes of Hell. It is believed that hell is the kingdom of Satan by many Christians. – ask.com

By Doug Porter

If there’s one commonality to all the indiscretions of San Diego politics in the 20 months I’ve been writing this column, it’s City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Now, facing increased scrutiny in light of his actions, he’s fighting a desperate rear guard action to avoid public examination of the behind the scenes machinations at City Hall.

Contrary to what many of my progressive friends might believe, he’s not an ideologue, bound to the socially conservative mantras of the far right. In looking over his actions as City Attorney, I’ve come to believe he’s merely a dedicated functionary for the (largely Republican) economic interests that have ruled the roost in San Diego for decades. It’s all about the money.

According to a story by Dorian Hargrove in the San Diego Reader, Goldsmith is now fighting a court battle seeking to have public officials declared above the law when it comes to the California’s Public Records Act.  A February 27th legal brief filed by the City Attorney in San Diego Superior Court makes the claim that the law only requires “local agencies,” a “city,” or a “municipal corporation” to turn over documents, not individuals, officials, or employees.

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Thumbnail image for The Jobs Picture: Not Looking So Good From the Bottom Up, Even in San Diego

The Jobs Picture: Not Looking So Good From the Bottom Up, Even in San Diego

by Doug Porter 03.07.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

An article in the UT-San Diego business section about employment opportunities caught my eye this morning. While the local picture may be slightly better than the national projections, due to the presence of defense and tech industries, the prognosis for hiring remains heavily weighted towards low paying industries.

Today we’ll take a look at this story and other recent economic reports, along with what they portend for the growing national movement in support of increasing the minimum wage.  

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Thumbnail image for Nobody Who Works Full Time in San Diego Should Live in Poverty

Nobody Who Works Full Time in San Diego Should Live in Poverty

by Doug Porter 03.06.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

If you believe the San Diego’s Chamber of Commerce latest outlook, as reported on KPBS,  on the region’s economic health you’d better wear sunglasses because the future’s that bright. Business looks great, especially for the minimum and sub-minimum wage tourism, entertainment and hospitality sector.

On the other hand if you delve into the study entitled “Making Ends Meet 2014,” released this morning by the Center on Policy Initiatives and United Way of San Diego County, keep a box of tissues handy.

Their research quantitatively demonstrates that the cost of a basic, no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance is beyond the reach of 38% of all working age households in San Diego County. That’s 300,000 households. Even with someone working full-time year-round, or with multiple part-time earners, about 1 in 4 households in the region have incomes too low to cover the basic costs of living.

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