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 (warning 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.
From the Plum Line column, via the Washington Post:
President Obama would veto any such bill if it actually passed both houses. But still: this is the opening of a new front in the endless battle over the ACA.
So some context is in order. The ACA mandated that all companies with 50 or more workers offer health coverage. It’s vital to understand that this mandate actually affects only a small portion of workers, because most companies of that size already offer coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 91 percent of firms with between 50 and 199 employees offer coverage today, before any mandate has taken effect. For companies with 200 or more employees, it’s virtually all of them (over 99 percent). Even most companies with fewer workers — 85 percent of those with between 25 and 49 employees — offer coverage.
So if, in the coming days, you see a story about an employer that’s trying to find ways not to cover their employees, the first thing to remember is that this an employer who is not giving their workers the benefits most people get. The second thing to remember is that the mandate has already been delayed. Companies with between 50 and 99 workers now have until 2016 to get their workers insured
Representative Peters is facing a tough re-election battle against “New Republican” Carl DeMaio. Like many centrist type Democrats, he’s trying to campaign on “fixing” Obamacare. But there’s a huge difference between improving legislation and playing toady to one of the most despicable lobbying groups, one that advocates for poverty wages and against paid sick leave.
Their fight against paid sick leave laws clearly demonstrates why the industry deserves the “dirty food lobby” description.
Here’s public health lawyer Michele Simon, writing in the Huffington Post:
According to this PR Watch story from 2011, the NRA teamed up with a notorious right-wing lobbying group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), to pass a state-wide law in Wisconsin to override a local referendum to require paid sick days that had passed in Milwaukee in 2008 with more than 70 percent of the popular vote, democracy be damned. Also helping ALEC lead the charge on this issue was YUM! Brands, which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. As PR Watch noted: “The effect of the repeal will be more sick workers at work, making others ill, in order to save or increase profits by corporations…”
…More than half of all reported U.S. foodborne disease outbreaks occur in restaurant settings. While outbreaks have various origins, according to the CDC, about 50 percent of all outbreaks of food-related illness are caused by the highly infectious norovirus, the leading cause of illness from contaminated food.
Breitbart In, Papa Doug Out (?)
Former UT-San Diego politics reporter Christopher Cadelago (now Political reporter in The Sacramento Bee‘s Capitol Bureau) could hardly contain his excitement yesterday on Twitter following the announcement that loony/conservative Breitbart.com was opening up a California operation featuring Joel Pollak of Flash Report as Politics editor:
Breitbart News Network is launching Breitbart California, names @FlashReport as politics editor. Aims to tell conservative success stories.
— Christopher Cadelago (@ccadelago) April 6, 2014
Here’s an example of the Breitbart marketing campaign:
Cadelago should be thankful about making the jump from UT-San Diego, given this item reported via Neiman Journalism Lab last week.
In San Diego, word on the business street, now rebounding among a number of daily publishers around the country, is that the ownership of the San Diego Union-Tribune, now renamed U-T San Diego, wants out. That’s right: Rumor has it that flamboyant owner Papa Doug Manchester (good David Carr rundown on the “pro-business” Manchester era) wants to sell. His sometimes-CEO John Lynch has been assigned the task of finding a buyer, that rumor says. Lynch has previously talked publicly about wanting to buy more papers.
2014 is sure to bring more churn to the newspaper industry — and it’s looking like southern California could end up being the epicenter of all that change.
Balboa Park Centennial: Clear as Mud
Activist David Lundin continues to agitate about and UT-San Diego reporter Jeff McDonald continues to report on the latest developments in the Balboa Park Centennial saga.
Lundin has written to counsel representing the Balboa Park Conservancy, Inc. informing them of his intention to file a complaint in San Diego Superior Court seeking a declaration that the group now entrusted by the City of San Diego with 2015’s centennial celebration is in violation of the California Public Meetings and Public Records Acts. He is also seeking a finding that the Conservancy and its governing Board have intentionally and maliciously breached Article 4.11 of their By-Laws requiring a minimum of two public Board meetings per calendar year.
From Lundlin’s latest missive:
This Complaint will be supported by the following facts, which I believe Conservancy cannot contest in good faith.
Conservancy was formed in 2011 by former Mayor Jerry Sanders, intentionally structured to be a private corporation that would assert it was independent of the City’s legal obligations of openness and transparency. Its governing Board had members in common with the now-failed and discredited Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. [“BPCI”]. The Conservancy Board now includes former Sanders’ senior staffers, construction managers, construction and public relations business owners and relatives of BPCI Board members. The Conservancy Board has never included an historian, any representative of the San Diego preservation community, a qualified architect, or any expert in horticulture or landscape architecture and design.
In its three years of existence, Conservancy raised less than $240,000.00 in total contributions to support its Mission of conserving, maintaining and improving the Park. It has made a total of $1,000.00 in tangible physical improvements to the Park. Both of these numbers represent a failure to achieve a meaningful contribution to the Park and to those who treasure this beloved public asset.
In its three years of existence, The Board of Conservancy has never held a public meeting, never posted a public agenda, and never posted public minutes of its meetings.
Section 4.11 of Conservancy’s own By-Laws require a minimum of two PUBLIC Board meetings each calendar year [Copy attached]. Conservancy’s Board has arrogantly, maliciously and intentionally refused to comply with its own governing By-Laws.
On March 22, 2011, the office of San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued Formal Opinion Number 1-2012, concluding Conservancy was legally bound to fully comply with both the California Public Meetings Act and California Public Records Act. [Copy attached].
In August of 2013, Conservancy entered into a formal contract with the City of San Diego granting Conservancy the exclusive management rights for the “Winter Nights” event in Balboa Park, commencing in 2014 and continuing for a number of years. To my knowledge this contract was awarded without public notice, without competitive bidding, and with no public hearing..
In an interview with Gene Cubbison of NBC 7/39 taped 4 April, 2014, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith affirmed his office’s earlier Opinion Number 1-2012. In doing so, The City Attorney stated that the additional fact of the existence of the newly-disclosed Conservancy Winter Nights contract made the Opinion’s conclusion even more legally correct.
The UT-San Diego story today quotes a former Conservancy board member Judy Swink questioning the wisdom of the city’s latest move on the centennial celebration. And, in my opinion, we get a Big Clue as to why the powers that be at City Hall selected this particular organization.
“I have concerns about the ability of the Balboa Park Conservancy to accomplish what the Balboa Park Celebration was unable to do,” she said. “I have not seen anything substantive accomplished by the conservancy for Balboa Park as originally envisioned.”
Swink, a decades-long community volunteer, resigned from the board in 2012 after a majority of directors voted to endorse the Plaza de Panama, a bypass bridge project pushed by then-Mayor Jerry Sanders.
She and another board member felt the endorsement did not adhere to the core mission of the conservancy, which was formed in 2010 to promote and preserve Balboa Park. The conservancy was set up also to raise private funds that the city and various organizations could not do easily for the park as a whole.
The San Diego Opera: More Mud
UT-San Diego’s local news section (print edition) led today with an opera review.
The fact that Ian Campbell, general director of the San Diego Opera, was heckled and booed before Saturday night’s opening performance of “Don Quixote,” was news, I suppose.
From critic James Chute’s coverage:
Saturday, when the crowd finally quieted, he gave what seemed to be a eulogy, thanking people for their support and speaking about the opera in the past tense, until members of the crowd, some wearing stickers proclaiming “Save the San Diego Opera,” disrupted him again.
He finally left the stage so the real opera could begin, but not even Massenet could top this tragedy of a passionate, gifted man who once was the very embodiment of artistic success and community service. Now, through his own ego, miscalculations — did he really believe the board would just rubber stamp a decision affecting so many and made by so few? — and intransigence, he is seen as the exact opposite.
Over at inewsource/KPBS, the story of the impending collapse of the company continues to yield more details; details of a seamier sort.
Sources who have first-hand knowledge of opera events but don’t want to be quoted by name because of their proximity have told KPBS that communication is nonexistent between management and staff, board members are resigning, and the clock is ticking toward April 29 when assets will be sold…
The inewsource story tells us that the opera board’s compensation committee, which has thus far refused to provide reports on its activities, is chaired by Faye Wilson, a board member with the title “Life Director.”
Wilson is in charge of determining Ian and Ann Campbell’s compensation package, including salary, retirement, and benefits. According to the board’s by-laws, the compensation committee is supposed to regularly report to the board…
Then there’s this zinger:
Some board members told KPBS they worry about not getting impartial legal counsel during this process.
Attorney Victor Vilaplana, of Foley & Lardner LLP, has been retained and is advising the board, though sources said they have yet to see an engagement letter spelling out his services.
Vilaplana served as best man at Ian and Ann Campbell’s wedding, according to multiple sources. At the March 19th board meeting, Vilaplana is cited in the minutes explaining how the company’s financial obligations will be handled.
Free Bob Filner!?
In case you haven’t heard, former Mayor Bob Filner’s house arrest ended this weekend.
He gave a statement to NBC/7 News that we’re sharing with you here in lieu of any the “look out” wisecracks I’ve seen elsewhere:
While under house arrest for the past ninety days, I have been working hard to understand the reasons that led me here, to do whatever is necessary to correct my behavior, to become a healthier, more balanced person and to think through what a man in my position could do to earn forgiveness and regain my integrity.
Once again, my deepest apologies go to all those that I have hurt. I ask for a chance to earn your forgiveness over time based on my actions.
I also want to thank all those who have stood with me and trust that I will emerge from this dark and difficult period in my life as a better human being.
I will continue to focus on my mental and physical health and family and private life. In response to many requests, I will not be doing interviews or making appearances in the immediate future.
Check Out the SDFreePress Daily Poem
In honor of National Poetry Month we will be publishing a poem of the day throughout April. I encourage you to take a few moments away from your daily routine to honor the efforts of those who seek to enrich our lives and raise our consciousness.
Some of San Diego’s shoeshine boys for the downtown set, a.k.a. serious journalists, seem to think that our decision to include poetry as a means of expression is cause for derision. We wish to express our sorrow at this loss of their humanity and urge you read a poem everyday so you won’t end up thinking that kissing ass is a worthwhile goal in life.
Check Out the SDFreePress Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: email@example.com
On This Day: 1712 – A slave revolt broke out in New York City 1933 – Prohibition ended in the United States. 1948 – The musical “South Pacific” by Rogers and Hammerstein debuted on Broadway.
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@