By Doug Porter
Employees and the community supporters at the Mission Valley Hilton will be engaging in a five day hunger strike starting today in protest of a decision by the property’s new management company to dismiss nine long term hotel workers.
Following weeks of protests, including a sit-in where 20 people were arrested, employees at the Mission Valley Hilton Hotel were elated last month after hearing that their jobs would not be eliminated as part of a takeover of the property by Evolution Hospitality/ Tarsadia Hotels.
What they didn’t know is that the new managers would subject all the employees to immediate E-Verify background checks. Nine long term workers are now facing dismissal as soon as next Tuesday. Those employees believe they are being targeted for standing up for their rights as immigrant workers.
So the happiness of the employees has turned to anger and that anger is turning into action as hotel employees and community supporters are announced the hunger strike today at a press conference outside the property.
Joining them at that event were Congressman Scott Peters; State Senator Ben Hueso; San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria; Lorena Gonzalez, Secretary-Treasurer, San Diego Labor Council; Brigette Browning, President, UNITE-HERE Local 30; Pedro Rios, Chairperson, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, Christian Ramirez, Alliance San Diego; Sid Voorakkara; Representatives from SEIU-UHWW 1877 and United Taxi Workers of San Diego.
Congressman Juan Vargas will participate in events with the group on Saturday and Sunday and Mayor Bob Filner is slated to appear at mid-day rally on Sunday. Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, San Diego Unified School Board member Richard Barrera, incoming San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten will also join events over the weekend.
HEI Hotels, the former owners of the property, warned employees as the sale approached back in January via filing paperwork with the state of California that layoffs were imminent. Labor activists, led by UNITE-HERE Local 30 and supporters rallied to the cause of the 110 employees on the property, staging picket lines and other protests.
Following the publicity campaign, more than 700 people sent emails to the incoming owners urging them not to dismiss the hotel’s long-term staff.
Evolution Hospitality was created as a hotel management company following a three way split up of Tarsadia Hotels January 2011. According to Hotel Investment News:
Bhikhubhai (B.U.) Patel founded the original Tarsadia in 1976, and ran the company with sons Mike and Tushar, investing the family’s money, along with money from a select group of other investors, in hotel real estate development and management projects. As the family’s interests changed and the company grew, the decision was made to transition into three separate companies, each owned by longtime Tarsadia veterans.
Tarsadia owns the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego and made news back in 2009 when it padlocked two nightspots at the facility following allegations that bouncers working for contractor the Gerber Group had roughed up patrons. 150 people were left without jobs following the lockout.
A Facebook event page has been set up so people can get news and schedules about the hunger strike.
Legality of UT-San Diego Election Ad Pricing Questioned
Here’s a shocker for you: KPBS/i-newsource has a story posted suggesting the local daily newspaper showed favoritism towards Republicans in pricing its advertising during last fall’s election campaigns.
While supporters for Democrat Bob Filner were quoted a $8000 per page price for advertising, pro-Republican candidates and Political Action Committees paid as little as $926 for their ads, according to the report.
From the story:
inewsource and KPBS audited ads in the U-T every day between Labor Day and Election Day 2012 and compared the list with campaign finance records. The results show varied payments for ads, indicating the U-T may have offered bargains to the anti-Filner campaign and to other candidates and issues the newspaper endorsed.
U-T owner Doug Manchester did not respond to requests for an interview. Chief Executive Officer John Lynch said in an email that the U-T offered a package to campaigns.
“All political ads were paid as part of a bundle option used to attract political advertising and consistent with how we sell generally. The bundle was available to all campaigns interested in advertising,” Lynch wrote. He declined to provide a copy of the offer or details of it.
The report cited local, state and federal campaign experts who asserted that discounted ads for only certain political candidates can be against the law. State and local regulations require that discounts be reported as in-kind contributions to a candidate or cause. Federal election rules are even stricter, forbidding special pricing even when the discount is disclosed.
The claimed “bundle option” did not explain variations in pricing revealed by the KPBS analysis.
PACs and campaign committees supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor, Brian Bilbray for Congress and Proposition 32 were all beneficiaries of the UT-San Diego’s largess. Forty three candidate centered ads appeared in the newspaper, none of them in support of the Democrats in the races. Needless to say Manchester’s editorial minions produced endorsements for the GOP candidates.
Along with a front page endorsement for the DeMaio mayoral effort, the UT-San Diego also trumpeted (and sponsored) a public opinion poll, done in conjunction with University of San Diego claiming a double digit lead for their candidate over Bob Filner, who won the race by a four point margin.
UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester and his sidekick John Lynch have long made it perfectly apparent that they consider themselves above the law, as numerous run ins with zoning officials attest. So while us ‘little people” are expected to be law biding citizens, don’t get your hopes up about enforcement aimed at the Lynchester propaganda organ.
Supe-Designee’s Activist Roots Showing
As Cindy Marten, incoming Superintendent for the San Diego Unified School District, continues her campaign of reaching out to the community with a non-stop series of public appearance, it’s becoming apparent she’s not going to let her new found status as a senior manager interfere with her zeal as an advocate for education.
The La Jolla Patch has an amazing story and video up from Marten’s speech before the La Mesa-Foothills Democratic Club on Wednesday evening. I would especially encourage those who’ve seen Voice of San Diego’s coverage on her, which has sought (IMO) to define Marten through the prism of test scores, to watch this clip.
Here’s one quote, from an article chock full of good stuff at LJ Patch:
“I know we’re not producing just a test score,” she told an audience of 70 at the La Mesa Community Center. “But that is what has happened over the last 12 years. … Data has been used as a weapon against public education to prove to the public that we are failing and should be shut down,” replaced by private schools and vouchers.
After Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush called for a Global War on Terror, Marten says she declared herself a soldier for public education.
Shocking her parents—a CPA mom and lawyer dad—Marten says she quit her job in the Poway Unified School District for a teaching role at Central.
“I’m taking a cut in pay, I’m giving up my tenure. … I’m quitting all that and going back to City Heights, Mom,” she recalled saying. Marten’s parents had taken her out of Crawford High and enrolled her at La Jolla Country Day School.
Roger Ebert: He knew what he stood for
He was a complete inspiration to me personally. While I know I’ll never be able to hold a candle to him as a writer, I identified with him. He inspired me to take up my keyboard to fight the good fights, even as I lost my voice from cancer.
His unwavering integrity and moral compass will stand forever as guideposts for those of us who are motivated to write about the world around us with more than simply a detached viewpoint. Ebert’s response to a personally devastating and painful assault via cancer was to write more and with more passion.
I didn’t know the man personally. I didn’t need to. I knew what he stood for.
I will miss him.
On This Day: 1792 – President George Washington cast the first presidential veto. The measure concerned apportioning representatives among the states. 1994 – Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) killed himself with a shotgun. He was found three days later. 1999 – In Laramie, WY, Russell Henderson pled guilty to kidnapping and felony murder in the death of Matthew Shepard, who was killed because he was gay.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
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@