The Starting Line

A week-day SDFP column by Doug Porter

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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

by Doug Porter 09.16.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Cab drivers in San Diego who have stood up for reforming industry regulations have been unilaterally punished by company owners in recent days. Drivers are asking the city to lift a cap on the number of permits issued for taxis. The two sides are headed for an epic showdown before a City Council committee this week.

Cab company owners are desperately trying to preserve a lucrative franchise enabled by taxpayers. San Diego’s taxi drivers are ‘independent contractors’ who have virtually no control over the way they’re allowed to run their “business” of driving a cab. Mostly they eke out a living under terms set by a few anointed property owners (in this case the property is the license required to operate) who set terms and conditions.

One driver who dared to grant an interview with San Diego 6 News following a press conference hosted by City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City attorney Jan Goldsmith was asked to “turn in his keys” (industry parlance for you’re fired).

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Thumbnail image for City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

by Doug Porter 09.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

A citizen group represented by Attorney Cory Briggs has announced its intention to file a lawsuit blocking the city’s economic incentives package with Illumina, Inc.

An email sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council this week set a deadline of September 23rd for rescinding the agreement. The communique claims the approval process violated a City Charter provision requiring any deals made by the council lasting more than five years to include a public hearing and a legal notice published 10 days in advance of that hearing.

The Economic Development Assistance Agreement with Illumina, Inc, was approved on August 7th as a “Consent Item.” The ten year deal includes a promise to rebate $1.5 million in sales and use taxes in return for retaining “over 100 middle-wage manufacturing job opportunities” in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 09.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The struggle for a better life for nearly two hundred thousand San Diegans continues, as the forces of reaction desperately fight back following passage of an ordinance increasing the local minimum wage by the City Council.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from corporate hotel and restaurant corporations, has funded a campaign to force the issue to a referendum, which would have the effect of delaying any increase until July, 2016. While their sales pitch started out with the premise that citizens needed to vote on such a measure, it has gotten increasingly desperate in recent days.

The paid canvassers used by GOP consultant Jason Roe and the big business funded “Small Business Coalition” have quit in droves, mostly because they are unable to collect enough signatures to make a living. The bounty for names on their petitions has risen from roughly $2 per signature to $7 each at retail locations and $10 each if done door-to-door.

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Thumbnail image for There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

by Doug Porter 09.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Voters in the 52nd Congressional District come November will get to make their choice between the former City Councilman and incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. Today I’ll argue that this choice is more than ideological; it’s a question of character. 

What differentiates DeMaio in my mind from others who I disagree with (including Congressman Peters from time to time) is the way he does business. A couple of recent examples serve to illustrate my point. (And I’ll remind you of some past incidents that bolster my contention.) 

Having lost out on an endorsement from the US Chamber of Commerce last week, candidate DeMaio sought to change the subject by rolling out what he insisted was a series of women-friendly proposals. 

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Thumbnail image for Dirty Energy’s Big Lie Campaign About California’s So-Called Hidden Gas Tax

Dirty Energy’s Big Lie Campaign About California’s So-Called Hidden Gas Tax

by Doug Porter 09.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Perhaps you’ve seen the the nagging ads on the internet. Or read the one of numerous op-ed pieces published in the dead tree media.

Their messages are simple. The California Drivers Alliance wants you to be afraid of an increase (a tax!) in gas prices come January.  And they want you to believe this increase is some part of a covert agenda.

The truth of the matter here is that the only thing covert going on is the financial backing of the oil and gas industry for groups appearing to be grass-roots organizations started by ordinary people. As is the case whenever astroturfing is involved, the truth is the last thing they’d like consumers to know about.

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Thumbnail image for Live the Wage Challenge Highlights Low Pay Reality for Nearly 200,000 San Diegans

Live the Wage Challenge Highlights Low Pay Reality for Nearly 200,000 San Diegans

by Doug Porter 09.05.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

City Council President Todd Gloria is walking the walk this week, pledging to live on a minimum wage budget to draw attention to the real life consequence of the big business-sponsored campaign to block a local increase in pay for workers at the bottom of the pay scales.

Gloria, along with small business owner Alma Rodriguez and Arnulfo Manriquez, CEO of MAAC (the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty) held a press conference on Wednesday pledging to “Live the Wage Challenge.” After average expenses for taxes and housing are considered, this leaves them $51 for food, transportation and other basic necessities.

The beauty of this pledge is that it focuses attention on the day-to-day reality for low wage workers. Yes, it’s a stunt. It sheds light (and publicity) on the struggles that thousands of San Diegans face every day.

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On Strike! Shut it Down! Fast Food Protesters Take to the Streets in San Diego and Around the Nation

Thumbnail image for On Strike! Shut it Down! Fast Food Protesters Take to the Streets in San Diego and Around the Nation by Doug Porter 09.04.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Over 300 people took to the streets in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood this morning in support of fast food workers seeking higher wages and a better life. The plan was originally to occupy one of the quick service eateries along University Avenue as an act of civil disobedience. The Burger King, McDonald’s and Jack in the Box in the area all locked their doors, keeping employees from joining the protest and demonstrators out.

Undeterred, the group marched down University Avenue to Interstate 15 and staged a sit-in. Nine fast food workers and two supporters were arrested without incident. Traffic was snarled in all directions.

Included in this story are photos from San Diego and around the nation.

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Thumbnail image for DeMaio Dissed by US Chamber of Commerce

DeMaio Dissed by US Chamber of Commerce

by Doug Porter 09.03.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s “New Republican” candidate for the 52nd Congressional District actively sought and failed to get the endorsement of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Instead, the pro-business group endorsed Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, saying “We will encourage the business community to vigorously support your candidacy.”

This makes Peters unique in that he’s supported by (some) organized labor groups and the largest pro-business lobbying group in the U.S. The Chamber’s lobbying expenditures in 2013 totalled $74,470, 000. In the 2012 Congressional elections they spent $33 million in support of mostly Republican candidates.

I’ll suspend judgement for a moment about just how scummy the U.S. Chamber is as an organization to crack wise about the DeMaio campaign’s reaction.

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Thumbnail image for Actions Set for September 4th as Fast Food Workers Vow to Do ‘Whatever it Takes’

Actions Set for September 4th as Fast Food Workers Vow to Do ‘Whatever it Takes’

by Doug Porter 09.02.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego is one of 100-plus cities targeted this Thursday as part of a nationwide protest of fast food restaurant workers aimed at low wages and working conditions.

Two new elements will be introduced into this latest round of protests, at least on a national level: acts of civil disobedience and a supportive presence by thousands of home-care workers joining the protests.

Workers are expected to strike at a dozen San Diego fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Jack in the Box. Clergy, elected officials and community supporters will join fast-food workers on the strike lines, according to local organizers.

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Thumbnail image for Labor Day Rant: Maybe it’s Time We Hit These Cheating Corporate Bosses Upside the Head with a Two by Four

Labor Day Rant: Maybe it’s Time We Hit These Cheating Corporate Bosses Upside the Head with a Two by Four

by Doug Porter 09.01.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

A new gilded age is upon us, a hundred and forty years or so after the last one. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. From the pulpits of the prosperous we’re told the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar is the path of righteousness, even if that path is paved with the misery of the masses.

The mantra for the millennial era is that just a few less regulations and a lot less taxes will set us free, despite all the accrued evidence to the contrary. Whatever criticisms have been leveled at economist Thomas Piketty, nobody has yet to challenge the two centuries of data that prove his point that unfettered capitalism benefits the only very few.

Here were are on Labor Day, the sop set aside to acknowledge the efforts of hard working people, and there is scant acknowledgement in too much of the media that the struggle for economic justice continues. Somehow we’re supposed to to forget history about the excesses of unfettered capitalism and brave souls that stood up against all odds to challenge those seeking to establish an oligarchy. 

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Thumbnail image for Really, Really, Bad News About Climate Change (And a Chance to Do Something About It)

Really, Really, Bad News About Climate Change (And a Chance to Do Something About It)

by Doug Porter 08.29.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

A United Nations report being shared with governments around the world prior to publication uses the strongest language to date, warning of dire consequences of continuing climate change.

Human influence on the planet’s climate is clear and having “widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems,” some of which may be irreversible, says the leaked draft of its final “Synthesis Report” which seeks to tie together previous reports the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released over the last year.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” the report concludes. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”

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Thumbnail image for Waiter! There’s Some Snot in My Soup!

Waiter! There’s Some Snot in My Soup!

by Doug Porter 08.28.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Opponents of the City Council ordinance allowing earned sick days for workers in San Diego continue to stand in front of shopping centers and grocery stores to collect signatures for a referendum suspending the law until June 2016.

Meanwhile, Jason Cabel Roe, the GOP strategist who the San Diego Daily Transcript calls a “business consultant,” says “We’re hearing from a lot of small businesses about how they’re panicked about the potential costs…”

That’s right, they’d rather have their employees work sick. Think about that next time you eat in a restaurant. Your server (or cook or busboy) may well have opted to work while ill rather than lose a day’s pay. After all, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 81% of food service workers don’t have a choice.

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Thumbnail image for Women’s Equality Day: No Cause for Celebration

Women’s Equality Day: No Cause for Celebration

by Doug Porter 08.26.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

More than four decades ago Congresswomen Bella Abzug introduced legislation to designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The bill says that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote.”

In 1972 the Equal Rights Amendment passed, having been introduced in every session of Congress since 1923. The amendment required ratification by 38 states, but fell three states short. While there have been various legal maneuvers extend the ratification deadline, along with attempts to re-introduce the amendment over the years, it is, for all practical purposes, dead.

Think of it: more than half the human beings in the United States are subject to legally sanctioned discrimination. Buried beneath all the justifications and rationalizations for this fundamental injustice is the belief that women are (or should be) chattel.

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Thumbnail image for Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

by Doug Porter 08.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tensions between supporters and opponents of a city council approved increase in the minimum wage /earned sick days have escalated in recent days.

For now, most of the battles are being fought via press releases. GOP Consultant Jason Roe worked the phones on Friday, claiming signature collectors for a referendum effectively suspending the council’s action, were assaulted.

TV News crews and police descended upon a Vons store in Clairemont only to learn that a paid canvasser was claiming his petitions had been stolen. Former Assemblywomen Lori Saldaña is now questioning that claim, based on the fact she was in the area at the time of alleged theft and saw nothing of the kind.

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Thumbnail image for Calling Out the Liars Behind the Anti Minimum Wage Campaign in San Diego

Calling Out the Liars Behind the Anti Minimum Wage Campaign in San Diego

by Doug Porter 08.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Paid signature gatherers, many from out of town, fanned out across the city this week trying to persuade voters to support a Chamber of Commerce led effort to block a  minimum wage increase for San Diegans.

City Council President Todd Gloria, a very high profile local politician and author of the minimum wage/sick days ordinance, had the presence of mind to make an instagram video as he was approached outside an uptown post office.

“Have you signed the petition so the state can’t force the city of San Diego to increase the minimum wage yet?” the signature-gatherer asked. “I support raising the minimum wage,” Gloria answered.

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Thumbnail image for Groups Call ALS Bucket Challenge a Baby Killer

Groups Call ALS Bucket Challenge a Baby Killer

by Doug Porter 08.21.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Talk about your buzzkill.

Everybody, it seems, has been doing the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) challenge lately. Actor Charlie Sheen, San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle and even Mayor Kevin Faulconer have had buckets of iced liquid dumped on them as part a nationwide fundraising campaign.

While public figures locally have gone out of their way to be conscious about the drought faced by Californians, there’s always a crank somewhere looking to be a spoiler.

In the case of the ALS challenge it’s a certain Catholic Archdiocese and the we’re-not-a-hate-group types at the American Family Association (AFA). You might remember the AFA from their ‘don’t buy Harvey Milk stamps campaign’.

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Thumbnail image for Slime – A Common Denominator in San Diego’s Past, Present and Future Elections

Slime – A Common Denominator in San Diego’s Past, Present and Future Elections

by Doug Porter 08.20.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

slime

noun \ˈslīm\

: a thick, slippery liquid

: a very bad, unpleasant, or dishonest person

(from Merriam Webster.com)

 

The word “slime” came to mind as I reviewed the day’s news media, so that’s my theme du jour.

Today’s stories include an amazing document submitted in the government’s campaign contribution case against José Susumo Azano Matsura, rock throwing TV ads via a man formerly known as Turd Blossom and the ultimate in concern trolling by a political consultant posing as a small businessman.

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Thumbnail image for Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 08.19.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

As expected yesterday, the City Council voted to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance. The vote was 6-2, with all Democrats supporting and Republicans Mark Kersey, and Scott Sherman opposed. Councilwoman Lori Zapf did not attend the meeting.

Not long after the council vote Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders dialed up the media, announcing they’d be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

Raise Up San Diego, the alliance of community, faith and labor groups supporting the ordinance passed by the City Council has announced it will mount an educational campaign urging people to decline to sign the referendum petitions.

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Thumbnail image for SeaWorld: A Bigger Cage Doesn’t Change Anything

SeaWorld: A Bigger Cage Doesn’t Change Anything

by Doug Porter 08.18.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

 After a bad week in the stock market and a bad first half of the year at the turnstile, the company behind SeaWorld announced a series of moves it obviously hopes will enhance the image of its water parks.

The plans include doubling the size of its orca environment, contributing an additional $10 million to research on the species and establishing an independent advisory committee of scientists to oversee its orca program.

The new orca environment, dubbed the Blue World Project, will cover 1.5 acres at 50 feet deep and 350 feet in length. The new habitat will have 10 million gallons of water, up from 5.6 million. Visitors will be able to view the orcas from a 40-foot-tall glass wall below the water line.

The editorial board at UT-San Diego was impressed. Not many other people seemed to share their near-gushing sentiment.

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Thumbnail image for Basketball’s Bill Walton and Qualcomm’s Irwin Jacobs Cast as Labor Bullies by Faulconer’s Anti-Minimum Wage Strategist

Basketball’s Bill Walton and Qualcomm’s Irwin Jacobs Cast as Labor Bullies by Faulconer’s Anti-Minimum Wage Strategist

by Doug Porter 08.15.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

I’ve been saying it for months now–the minimum wage battle in San Diego will bring out the Really Big Lies and the Really Bad Guys. Today we’ll give you a little taste of what they’re saying and what they really believe.

On Monday City Council President Todd Gloria has called for a special session of the City Council to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of a minimum wage increase and paid sick days for San Diego workers.

Gloria is quoted in this morning’s UT, saying, “The City Council should stand up for the 38 percent of San Diegans who are counting on this raise to help them better make ends meet, and I hope they will override the mayor’s veto”

On Tuesday, The “San Diego Small Business Coalition,” created by big businesses, will roll out a small army of signature gatherers armed with a spiel designed to fool voters into thinking they’re signing a reasonable petition.

We got a little taste of how ‘reasonable’ these folks are yesterday with GOP consultant Jason Roe, who crashed an early morning press conference held by Raise Up San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Ferguson, Missouri: Racism, Riots and Reactions

Ferguson, Missouri: Racism, Riots and Reactions

by Doug Porter 08.14.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

In Ferguson, Missouri an unarmed young man was gunned down in the street last Saturday by a police officer. According to multiple witnesses 18 year old Mike Brown was shot multiple times, even after he faced the officer and raised his hands. His body lay in the street in the August sun for four hours after the shooting.

People who live in that community believe the shooting was just another example of the racism they face everyday. Ferguson’s population is near two-thirds African-American; just three of the 53 officers on the police force are not white. The authorities have done nothing but confirm their worst fears at every turn.

For the past four nights there have been confrontations between police and demonstrators. Last night things escalated. Following a announcement from a bulhorn on top of an armored vehicle saying “your right to demonstrate is not being obstructed”  there were unprovoked police attacks on crowds and in the surrounding neighborhoods using smoke bombs, tear gas, stun granades and rubber bullets.

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Thumbnail image for Faux News, Environmental Views At Issue in 52nd District Congressional Race

Faux News, Environmental Views At Issue in 52nd District Congressional Race

by Doug Porter 08.13.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Representative Scott Peters’ fight to keep his seat in the 52nd Congressional District continues to make the news. The National Journal and other media outlets ran stories yesterday about fake news sites being funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee; a quick search confirmed Peters was among their targets.

Climate Progress ran an article touting both Peters and opponent Carl DeMaio as unusual because both candidates agree that climate change is real- except that they couldn’t find a environmental activist willing to endorse DeMaio’s record.

Finally, former assemblyman Nathan Fletcher came out of his self-imposed political exile this morning to endorse Peters, Jack Harkin (former chair of the local United Veterans Council) and other veterans at a press conference in Balboa Park.

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Thumbnail image for The Spin on Gas Prices in California: A $20 Koch Burger Topped with Fear

The Spin on Gas Prices in California: A $20 Koch Burger Topped with Fear

by Doug Porter 08.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Perhaps you’ve heard the news stories in recent days; the ones saying gasoline prices in California are about to take a big jump at the pump. Here’s a quote from a Capital Public Radio story aired on KPBS recently, “Projected increases range from 10 cents to 69 cents a gallon.”  

What these news stories aren’t saying is that there is a concerted campaign underway by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and its allies to forestall the inclusion of  fuels in California’s cap-and-trade program.

This isn’t about a tax. It’s not unexpected; the industry has known this would happen for five years. The hubbub is really all about the dirty energy business making a last ditch stand in defense of their continuing contribution to climate change.

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Thumbnail image for GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

by Doug Porter 08.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

I attended Voice of San Diego’s Politifest on Saturday, held at Liberty Station. It was a gorgeous San Diego morning for what was dubbed a ‘civic festival.’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins were invited to strut their stuff.

Politifest is in the tradition of the days when grand public rallies were held to support candidates and causes–with a little bit of the 60’s teach-in thrown in for good measure. The main difference is that this annual event doesn’t have a cause beyond civic involvement. 

There weren’t a whole lot of people there–once you accounted for all those participating in some fashion–but those that did attend were the kind of people who take their policy seriously. Alternately it could be called it Wonkfest; or Politicon (with craft beer! and food trucks!). The nerd in me was glad they do this.

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Thumbnail image for The Real Battle Begins: Faulconer Vetoes Minimum Wage Hike

The Real Battle Begins: Faulconer Vetoes Minimum Wage Hike

by Doug Porter 08.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer has vetoed an ordinance increasing minimum wages and allowing for earned sick days for San Diegans.

The City Council now has 30 days to override the veto. Twenty four hours after that vote happens it’s probable that the Chamber of Commerce–given that they’ve been raising money for it– will begin collecting signatures to overturn the ordinance.

The Committee for Slave Wages and Free Puppies for Everybody–or whatever catchy name they come up with–will have 30 days to collect 34,000 or so signatures. Should they succeed, the ordinance will be suspended until after the June, 2016 vote.

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