‘The City of San Diego will not be held hostage”
By Doug Porter
Once again we’re seeing headlines proclaiming Mayor Filner to be responsible for causing the San Diego Tourism Authority to close down.
We’re hearing about how people’s jobs will be affected by a “squabble”.
We’re being told via the Daily Fishwrap editorial about a “crippling blow to a major pillar of the San Diego economy.”
Mayor Filner has demanded that the tourism agency live up to its end of a bargain struck back in April that, among other things, directed 5 percent of Tourism Marketing District (TMD) revenue to the upcoming celebration of Balboa Park’s centennial. That deal came after several months of very public and ugly struggle.
UPDATE: TMD agreed to fund Balboa Park celebration; Mayor agreed to release funds. I’m not sure whether Balboa Park got the funding they expected. TMD officials claimed revenue shortfall. (I predict a One Exclamation Point! press release from Filner shortly)
The downtown spin machine ran at full speed for more three months trying to paint Mayor Bob Filner as a job killer. They failed.
From Matt Potter at the SD Reader:
…in February the city’s top three hotel moguls, C. Terry Brown, Bill Evans, and Richard Bartell teamed up with U-T San Diego publisher, fellow Republican, and luxury hotel magnate Douglas Manchester, to lead a charge against the Democratic mayor in the form of a lawsuit and media campaign to force Filner to sign a lucrative city funding deal negotiated by Republican ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, a major beneficiary of the hoteliers’ campaign money.
Besides U-T coverage and editorials, the moguls conducted their own well-funded lobbying effort,as well promoting a city council demonstration engineered by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a downtown business lobbying group with close ties to Brown.
The city’s big hoteliers – who dominate the Tourism Marketing Authority – agreed to this deal to end the dispute over funding that was, in reality, proxy for a bigger struggle between a progressive Mayor and the downtown business interests that have traditionally had free reign at City Hall.
Having failed to win at that battle, the hoteliers came to the table back in April. Because of legal restrictions imposed by Proposition 26, which requires officials to demonstrate a specific benefit for the group or industry receiving extra money, the actual language of the deal was written in general terms.
From an April story at Voice of San Diego:
The latest version of the Tourism Marketing District contract states that the district should expect an application from Centennial Celebration organizers seeking 5 percent of disbursable funds for the period between January and June of this year. The document notes the payout shouldn’t exceed $750,000.
Thinking they’d pulled a fast one on the Mayor, the TMD told the Balboa Park centennial committee through back channels they probably couldn’t come up with any money after all.
From City News Service via Fox5San Diego:
“They have told the centennial committee that they’re going to be last on the list” of applicants for money and that there may not be much money left, Filner told City News Service. “I want that money to come off the top.”
He said the TMD gave the city an invoice for around $6 million only about a week ago, and it takes two or three weeks for the city to cut a check. The agency should give 5 percent, or $300,000, straight to the centennial committee before it provides for other needs, he said.
“What they want to do is spend all the money on ConVis and the salaries, and then if there’s any money left, they’ll give 5 percent of that to the centennial committee,” Filner said. “I’m not going to accept that. That’s not what the agreement said, that’s not what we talked about.”
So the Mayor has said “No Deal”. His office released the following statement last Thursday afternoon:
“I have had enough of the whining and complaining from the wealthiest hotels in America. It was only days ago that they submitted at bill! We will issue their money when they hold up their end of the bargain, for example, approving payments to the Balboa ParkCentennial. This idle and baseless threat is beneath them and I urge them to grow up and do business the right way. The City of San Diego will not be held hostage by such antics.”
As I’m writing this story the Tourism Marketing board is meeting in a closed session in the Aviary Room of the Catamaran Hotel. Word is they’re gonna take Filner to court. Again. They lost last time.
I suspect they’ll still prefer a showdown with the Mayor over 5% of the funds. It’s not about the money. It’s about the power.
As Chris Brewster said this morning, commenting on a VOSD article:
This is about an arrogant power group in San Diego that has had its way for a long time and expects to be treated better than others. It’s a group that shuns government intervention, but wants the government to collect these funds for them because the hotel owners don’t trust each other to equitably contribute the funds they collect from tourists without government oversight. Meanwhile, the head of the TMD, with 85 employees, is being paid $450,000 per year out of these funds (about 4 times the Mayor’s annual salary), but they refuse to come up with $750,000 (max) that was apparently discussed. Smart business would be to go along with the Mayor and move on. It’s 5% of the total. Greed intervenes.
This is developing story. Updates will posted as new information becomes available.
Minimum Wage Hike Gets Assembly Approval
The Assembly approved a bill (AB 10) yesterday that would increase the minimum wage in California from $8 to $9.25 an hour over the next three years and require future increases to keep pace with inflation.
As expected, GOP lawmakers fought the measure tooth and nail, backed by powerful business interests, including the California Chamber of Commerce, calling it a “job killer.”
Also approved by the Assembly yesterday were measures allowing child-care workers to join unions and a proposed change in school disciplinary rules to reduce suspensions and expulsions. A bill that would have phased out the use of single use plastic bags for many retailers failed in the face of heavy plastics industry lobbying.
The State Senate approved a bill yesterday that will give the California Coastal Commission the ability to fine those who disregard orders to stop violating the California Coastal Act. AB 976 will bring Coastal Commission authority in line with most other state agencies tasked with enforcing environmental laws.
From State Senator Toni Atkins, via San Diego Politico:
Violations of the Coastal Act can include blocking public access to beaches, damaging environmentally sensitive habitats, or unauthorized development. Currently, the Commission can issue cease and desist orders to violators, but must pursue litigation through the California Attorney General’s office in order to enforce those orders if they are ignored, a costly and time-consuming process. The Coastal Commission currently has over 1800 open enforcement cases and new violations are reported to them more quickly than they can close existing ones. AB 976 will allow the Coastal Commission to fine violators in much the same way as other environmental agencies, such as the State Water Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. AB 976 will also ensure opportunities to challenge fines and provides rigorous due process protections.
Chula Vista WalMart Employee Takes a Stand
Armando Valenzuela, an employee of WalMart store 2291 in Chula Vista announced yesterday that he’s joining more than 100 other WalMart workers across the country in a Freedom Rider-inspired “Ride for Respect” caravan to Bentonville, Arkansas to participate in the WalMart shareholders meeting on June 7, 2013.
It’s a one man strike at the Chula Vista store. But that’s not stopping Armando.
He presented the manager of his WalMart store with a letter yesterday outlining the basis for his Unfair Labor Practices Strike lasting for one week.
Workers from 12 states so far have gone on strike, and members of the caravan will deliver a petition at the shareholders meeting calling on WalMart to publicly commit to jobs with full-time hours and a minimum salary of $25,000.
“All workers, union and non-union, deserve basic respect and the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families,” said Richard Barrera, Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego Labor Council in an afternoon press release. “We continue to call on WalMart and all employers to be responsible community partners and treat their workers with dignity and fairness.”
The group OUR WalMart recently filed thirty counts of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, including alleged acts of retaliation and intimidation by WalMart management.
“One of the most fundamental elements of our social contract is the fundamental commitment that if you work hard and do your share, you’ll be able to afford to live safely and healthily,” said Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Executive Director of the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. “But it takes more than simply believing; it takes people like Armando who are willing to stand up and fight against corporations who aren’t working in good faith with our communities.”
Oh, Yoo-Hoo! Maybe WalMart Ought to Listen…
Just Sayin’… From Huffington Post:
At a time when other retailers are struggling to get people into stores, Costco is enjoying a moment in the sun.
The big box giant’s profit jumped 19 percent to $459 million last quarter, thanks in part to the company’s efforts to offer discounts to lure more members, according to Bloomberg. The company was able to offer those discounts and boost its profits whilepaying its workers a decent wage, a claim many of Costco’s competitors can’t make.
Nor can Costco’s competitors claim growth quite like the wholesale retailer. Walmart’s sales suffered last quarter as shoppers struggled with a delay in their tax refund checks and a payroll tax hike. The company’s Sam’s Club unit, which is comparable to Costco, contended with similar obstacles in 2012.
Target, another Costco competitor, lowered its earnings forecast for the year, after customers cut back, pushing the retailer’s profits down 29 percent.
Bradley Manning Supporters to Hold San Diego Rally
Manning was arrested on May 26, 2010, on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks. He faces by 22 charges, including violations of Articles 92 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and of the Espionage Act. The most serious charge is “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. Prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty, but if convicted he would face life imprisonment.
In February Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges. Reading for over an hour from a 35-page statement, he said he had leaked the cables “to show the true cost of war.” Prosecutors are pursuing a court-martial on the remaining charges, including aiding the enemy.
Speakers at the Manning Trial Solidarity rally will include queer rights activist Nemo (reading from Manning’s own words), Joe Crews – LGBT member of Veterans for Peace & Editor of The Progressive Post, Pat Gracian – San Diego Coalition to Free Manning & Progressive Democrats of America, Alfie Padilla – Volunteer Coordinator with Canvass for a Cause, Lynn Gonzalez – G.I. Rights Hotline, San Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice, & San Diego BDS, Anoki Casey – San Diego Coalition to Free Manning & the International Socialist Organization, and Sean Bohac – SAME Alliance & San Diego Green Party
On This Day: 1880 – The first U.S. national bicycle society was formed in Newport, RI. It was known as the League of American Wheelmen.1955 – The Supreme Court ordered that all states must end racial segregation “with all deliberate speed.” 1976 – The Who played at the Charlton Athletic Grounds in England and make the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest rock band ever. Their set measured 76,000 watts and 120 decibels.
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