By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has been in office now just a little over one hundred days. And if this start to his administration is an indicator, the remainder of his term as mayor may be cause for some very rough going for San Diego environmentalists and minimum-wage supporters.
Faulconer’s actions – or, rather, inactions, around environmental policies have made eco-advocates furious. (More on that below.)
To the more immediate news, Friday, the 8th day of August, Faulconer formally vetoed the minimum-wage and sick-day ordinance passed by the City Council on July 28th. The measure would if enacted increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017, plus it provided access to five earned sick days.
The Council, with a 6 to 3 current ratio of Dems to Repubs, is expected to over-ride the Mayor’s veto, and the measure will become law. But then, in turn, this is expected to set the stage for an extremely divisive referendum effort by businesses and the Chamber of Commerce seeking to overturn the ordinance – which will be placed on hold until the referendum issue is settled.
Doug Porter, here at San Diego Free Press, says:
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.
Faulconer’s veto has upset Rise Up San Diego, a coalition formed to work to increase wages and better working conditions for San Diegans, announced their disappointment:
Community Backers and Business Leaders Disappointed in Mayor’s Veto
Mayor denies hundreds of thousands of working people access to sick days and a raise
Working San Diegans and community backers say they are upset and disappointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s decision to veto the earned sick days and minimum wage ordinance approved by the San Diego City Council late last month. …
Doug Porter, on Thursday, reported here on a poll that displays broad public support among San Diegans for the measure:
According to the poll:
- 63% of San Diego Voters Support the Council-Approved Earned Sick Days & Minimum Wage Ordinance;
- 59% reported that they would vote against repealing the ordinance;
- A 41% plurality say they would be less likely to support Mayor Kevin Faulconer if he proceeds with a veto of the ordinance;
- The ordinance has especially strong support among independent voters with 69% in favor as opposed to 26% against.
So, on the labor front, Faulconer is alienating more than just minimum-wage advocates, he’s alienating working San Diegans as well as independent voters.
San Diego Environmentalists Furious
Mayor Faulconer has also caused great frustrations on the part of San Diego environmentalists. He is being accused of completely stalling on various time-sensitive environmental policies, among them are many issues related to our city’s environmental future – water conservation, the climate action plan, plastic bag ban and more.
It has made any potential eco-ally downright furious. They perceive Faulconer not only deferring taking any action, but blatantly misrepresenting to residents of San Diego about the city’s action when they inquire.
For instance, as Porter explains:
On Tuesday [July 22] representatives from Surfrider, Coastkeeper and the Sierra Club came before the City Council to urge the Mayor to take action on an ordinance restricting single use plastic bags.
An environmental review necessary for the consideration of the ordinance has bee stalled by Faulconer, who claims he’s waiting to see the results of legislation working its way through Sacramento. Although over 100 cities in California have placed restrictions on one-time use plastic bags, industry lobbyists have repeatedly blocked passage of statewide legislation on this matter.
Plus on July 23rd,
… organizations concerned with the potential impacts of climate change packed a hearing of the City Council’s Environment Committee to urge Mayor Faulconer to quit stalling on this important issue.
The presence of representatives of the American Lung Association San Diego Chapter, California Nurses Association, Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego Coastkeeper and San Diego 350 made it clear that this issue is important to many San Diegans.
Councilmembers David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Ed Harris voted for a resolution urging Mayor Faulconer to reduce pollution and prepare San Diego for the impacts of climate change with strategies to measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years. Councilmember Lorie Zapf voted in opposition.
Actions urged by the resolution include:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020 and 49 percent by 2035
- Achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2035
- Reducing energy demand in existing buildings
- Increasing use of public transit, walking and bicycling to 50 percent of commutes
- Prioritizing investment in economically disadvantaged communities;
- An Increase urban parks and forests
- Maximizing support of local, quality middle-class jobs that make the community healthier
- Bolstering resilience of local infrastructure, public health, and natural resources against climate change impacts
Can Faulconer afford to alienate these constituencies of his, environmentalists and working San Diegans?
If he indeed follows the drumbeat of the Republican establishment in town, which with the attempt of the referendum wants to circumvent democratic government, Kevin could turn into more of a divisive mayor than Bob Filner was.