A move by the San Diego Police Department to eliminate an exemption allowing non-profit organizations to throw fundraisers and other entertainment events without having to pay for city permits is drawing fire from charitable groups. They say the local law enforcement agency is trying to balance their budget off local fundraisers.
The cops are hoping to make the case that the fee exemptions provided to non-profits are in violation of Proposition 26, which requires a legislative supermajority to change fees charged for licenses. They claim businesses paying for permit fees are subsidizing non-profit organizations because of the need to provide police protection at events.
There’s no word from the SDPD over any moves to eliminate the fee exemption for entertainment recently enacted covering restaurants that don’t charge a cover or stay open past 11pm. Waiving those fees came on the heels of a campaign by trade groups to make the city more business friendly to restaurateurs.
So the upshot of this is that, if you’re selling food & drink for profit there is no fee. If you’re a non-profit group looking to raise funds, there is a fee.
The Worldbeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, non-profit dedicated to African African-American arts and culture has posted an online petition atsignon.org looking for public help. The City Council is expected to hear a fees proposal in the next few weeks.
The petition background statement reads:
San Diego Police Department is currently attempting to remove exemptions for Non-Profits, holding fundraisers, forcing them to pay large fees and possibly declining to approve thousands of small fundraising events a year without providing the citizens the choice to vote on the issue under false pretense of Prop 26.
You can sign the petition by clicking here.
Prop 13 Reform Bill Introduced
A recent poll showing that Californians are amenable towards reforming Proposition 13 to allow commercial properties to be taxed at their current level led San Francisco Assemblymen Tom Ammiano to announce yesterday he’ll introduce commercial re-assessment legislation this session.
While reforming Proposition 13 to allow for a ‘split roll’ wherein protections for residential properties would remain but commercial properties would be regularly re-assessed would require voter approval, Ammiano’s bill aims to reduce corporations’ ability to structure ownership to avoid having property reassessed when it changes hands.
Closing this loophole would increase needed revenues for education and other uses by taxing properties at their actual value, rather than leaving those values at artificially depressed levels. It would not change the property tax bills for homeowners.
One example of how the law currently works often cited is Chase Bank’s takeover of Washington Mutual; the deal was structured so that the values on all the transferred properties would remain unchanged. Proposition 13’s provisions require reassessment when properties are sold or transferred; corporations have regularly avoided that provision. That’s the loophole this bill seeks to plug.
The Public Policy Institute of California poll found majorities – 57 percent of adults, 58 percent of likely voters – favor splitting the tax rolls; it’s supported by 66 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents, while Republicans are split (47 percent in favor, 48 percent opposed).
Oh, and by the way… Let’s steal a page from the righties as we seek to address the inequities built into Proposition 13. Do you hear how niceProposition 13 ‘reform’ sounds?
Child Labor Law Violations Suspected at Charger Games
The UT-San Diego reports this morning that investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor are looking at deals between student groups at four area high schools and Elite Staffing Services. Student groups from seven area schools have formalized agreements with Elite to provide ‘volunteers’ at San Diego Chargers games to usher fans or perform other tasks in return for donations. Only it wasn’t so voluntary (from the UT-SD article):
Emails from booster groups supporting San Diego schools show students were expected — and sometimes required — to work weekends to raise money if they wanted to remain in various music or sports programs.
“We need your help with the following activities which support our athletes and the football program,” the University City High Schoolwebsite states. “Please note, football athletes will be required to participate in volunteer activities as a team requirement.”
The ‘donation’ involved in at least one of the arrangements worked out to $4.40 an hour, meaning that the company involved was essentially getting labor at below minimum wage rates. A contract with Elite Staffing contained a stipulation for an additional contribution for shifts exceeding nine hours. The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act forbids children from working more than eight hours a day and dictates that they must be paid at least minimum wage.
San Diego Unified has intervened in the situation, notifying schools this fall that student associations were not legal entities entitled to make contracts. A letter sent out to schools by a SDUSD lawyer says, “We are actively investigating whether additional ‘contracts’ exist at other district schools. If more are discovered, this letter serves as your notice that no (contracts) will be honored, sponsored, endorsed, implemented or authorized by the district and all participation by district staff or students in such illegal activity will immediately cease.”
Two other companies, Centerplate Concessions and Ace Parking, also have contracts to work at Qualcomm Stadium and offer local charities chances to raise money by volunteering their time at Chargers games. Those companies are not currently included in the Department of Labor investigation. The SDUSD has indicated that at least one student group may have had an arrangement to work games for the San Diego Padres.
Contracts for security and staffing at Qualcomm Stadium are negotiated by the City of San Diego, not the San Diego Chargers.
NRA Chief Stoops to New Low
Yesterday as a memorial service for Kassandra Perkins, the young women murdered by Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher short before he committed suicide, was going on in Texas a top National Rifle Association official claimed that the real tragedy in that situation was that there weren’t more guns involved.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told USA Today reporter David Leon Moore, “The one thing missing in that equation is that woman owning a gun so she could have saved her life from that murderer.”
Responding to a commentary on the tragic murder-suicide by NBC’s Bob Costas, LaPierre went on the attack, accusing the sportscaster of “trying to piggy-back his agenda on the back of this national tragedy and spew it all over America.”
Costa has been the target of rather vicious attacks by righty gun nuts since he dared to speculate on the possibility that the murder might have been averted had the Kansas City linebacker not owned a gun. Costas did not call for gun control laws or repealing the Second Amendment, as many of those attacking have claimed.
With at least 24 Americans every day (8-9,000 a year) being killed by people with guns (not including accidents or suicides) and over 80 percent of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined occurring in the Unites States, you’d think that a conversation about the role of guns in our society might be allowable. (BTW, before you send me your nasty ass comments, gun lovers, be aware that I am not now nor have I ever been in favor of gun control. I might need to protect myself from nutcakes like yourselves.)
The San Diego Chargers Suck
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out about the front page of UT-San Diego this morning, where columnist Kevin Acee was allowed to inform coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith that they are going to be fired at the end of the football season. I’m sure that will inspire both men and the team to try harder this week.
Of course Acee, relying on his ‘highly reliable’ sources, reported essentially the same story last year only to be proven wrong. The columnist took to Twitter yesterday to defend this year’s story, saying:
“Difference between this year and last is a year … Meaning Dean Spanos won’t be changing his mind.”
Team owner Dean Spanos responded to the UT-SD report by saying it (the firing) ain’t so. Lets face it though, Acee has a 50-50 chance of being right.
San Onofre Nukes License Amendment Challenged
A panel of independent judges with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board are considering a petition filed by activist Ray Lutz and the Citizens Oversight Project challenging Southern California Edison’s petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license amendment.
Lutz says the amendment will allow Edison an exemption from public documents that disclose how often certain equipment at the San Onofre Nuclear plant is monitored. From KPBS:
“We’re talking about critical surveillances within the reactor containment building, the reactor core coolant system, “ Lutz said, “whether or not you are checking that. This is stuff that we are demanding that they check and on a timely basis and remains all public because, no, we do not trust the utility to monitor themselves.“
San Onofre is currently offline after a small radiation leak in January. Southern California Edison filed the request for a license amendment in 2011 before the trouble with the new steam generators emerged. But Lutz said the issue is all the more important because, if Unit 2 comes back online as Edison is proposing, the change would make operating procedures less transparent.
Citing data saying the plant has the worst safety record of any nuclear facility in the nation, Lutz argued -via a video conference held yesterday- that any move away from transparency is a move in the wrong direction.
A ruling Lutz’s favor will mean that a full public hearing on the issue must take place. Edison and the NRC are arguing that he has no standing to file a complaint, since he resides more that 50 miles from the San Onofre facility.
Desalination Plant Construction Covered by Project Labor Agreement
The San Diego County Water Authority’s approval of a 30 year purchase agreement with Poseidon Resources to supply desalinated water to the region means that construction will begin shortly on the Carlsbad facility. We find it interesting that the usual group of right wing contractors isn’t out there protesting the fact that construction will take place under the terms of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).
For those of you who many have missed this year’s primary elections, a group of anti- union activists, led by the Associated Builders and Contractors, successfully persuaded voters in San Diego to approved Proposition A, a measure that banned the use of PLAs in City contracts. Their campaign included lots of TV commercials warning about just how bad PLAs are for jobs and the economy. Mostly they used scare tactics, suggesting that non-union workers would be barred from working on public projects.
Passage of Proposition A in San Diego won’t stop PLAs from being used on State funded projects, according to the City Attorney. However, the State of California has taken the position that no funding for joint projects will be given to San Diego as long as this measure is in effect, a move that could cost the local economy millions of dollars and thousands of job.
So ultimately what’s happened here is that anti-union groups have hijacked the initiative process to run a propaganda campaign. Fortunately, the measure doesn’t cover projects initiated by the Water Authority.
The desalination plant will add 2,300 construction jobs over a 32-month period, jobs that must give local (not necessarily union) workers priority in hiring. The labor agreement will also put Poseidon Resources on the hook for any cost overruns during construction and while maintaining quality standards.
UT-SD Gets the National Spotlight (Again)
Thanks to all the readers that emailed or tweeted me yesterday about the Media Matters tome detailing just how bad our local daily has become under the Lynchester regime. While there isn’t a whole lot in the article that we haven’t already covered here at the San Diego Free Press, it is a pretty good summation of the reality we face when it comes to our local daily paper.
We have asked Media Matters via email for reposting rights so we can share the entire article with you. If they say yes, we’ll post the piece over the weekend. It’s on the long side, so that makes it a good Sunday morning read.
Picture of the Day
On This Day: 1787 – Delaware became the first state to ratify the U.S. constitution. 1941 – Pearl Harbor, located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, was attacked by nearly 200 Japanese warplanes. 1964 – Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) suffered a nervous breakdown on a flight from L.A. to Houston. The event led Wilson to stop touring with the group.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego(4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
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