By Doug Porter
Opponents of the City Council ordinance allowing earned sick days for workers in San Diego continue to stand in front of shopping centers and grocery stores to collect signatures for a referendum suspending the law until June 2016.
Meanwhile, Jason Cabel Roe, the GOP strategist who the San Diego Daily Transcript calls a “business consultant,” says “We’re hearing from a lot of small businesses about how they’re panicked about the potential costs…”
That’s right, they’d rather have their employees work sick. Think about that next time you eat in a restaurant. Your server (or cook or busboy) may well have opted to work while ill rather than lose a day’s pay. After all, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 81% of food service workers don’t have a choice.
Creating an Impression
Okay, okay… I might have neglected to mention the part of the ordinance that increases the local minimum wage by 8.3% on January first, but, hey, if the Chamber of Commerce can pay people to collect signatures based on made up numbers (they say it’s a 44% increase) , I should be able to raise the part of the law they’re not talking about, right?
The Chamber’s drive to suspend this ordinance landed a terrific piece of fluff posing as news yesterday in the Daily Transcript that I’d like to point out as Exhibit A for a discussion about how the media can influence public perceptions by framing an issue.
All the facts are there. The story is actually more informative than most I’ve seen. But the narrative is phrased in such a way that the truth gets buried. It’s the impression people get that counts, and if you didn’t read past the first few paragraphs you’d think San Diego is facing an economic calamity.
At the top of the story we learn about “Fears over raising the minimum wage in San Diego have put a noticeable dent in the economic outlook and hiring plans among some local businesses.”
A Chamber of Commerce poll cited warns that businesses are planning to cut back hours. How many? Oh, 9%. That means 91% per cent are not planning on reducing labor, right?
Oh, no… you see that 9% is UP from 5% in the last survey, which was taken before the current doom and gloom campaign. And that’s almost DOUBLE.
While 23% of businesses in the very same survey said they’re planing on increasing employee hours, I suppose we could look at this number as 77% are NOT planning on an increase. And never mind that the numbers cited at the top of the story represent an increase in labor hours from the same period last year, according to a poll cited near the end of the account.
Roe. Rhymes with Pinocchio? Coincidence?
The deal here is to spin the fear. Which is why Jason Roe (who’s now reduced to calling people–not me– challenging him on his narrative “idiots”) gets top billing over these paragraphs:
On the other hand, only 5 percent of respondents to the August poll listed the minimum wage hike as a “new challenge” to their business, which ranked it in 15th place among their concerns.
The mood shift contrasts with recent employment data that hints at growing expansion plans among San Diego businesses, as well as surveys showing an ambivalent attitude toward the wage hike, which would raise the minimum from the current $9 to $9.75 next January, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017.
Nearly 70 percent of small businesses in San Diego feel hikes in the minimum wage will not affect their businesses, according to a recent poll by California Bank & Trust.
By they way, if you are one of the people who signed the Chamber’s petition and later found out you’d been tricked, Raise Up San Diego has handy dandy forms that ask the City Clerk to remove your name.
Sorry, San Diego, Those Busted Pipes Will Have to Wait
Does anybody remember Proposition A, from back in 2012?
Prop A was pitched as a money saving measure blocking evil unions from demanding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on city construction projects. And, sure enough, trade unions disliked the measure.
What was actually going on was an effort sponsored by flakier elements of the building industry to avoid paying prevailing wages, since PLAs actually don’t require workers on a project to be in a union.
There were plenty of warnings to the effect that passing Proposition A might actually end up costing the City of San Diego access to State funds for large projects.
From City Beat:
In the run up to the vote, supporters of Prop. A claimed the state was bluffing. Eric Christen, executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction, led the charge, calling the state law a “gimmick” that would have “no impact.”
A San Diego Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling today upholding a bipartisan law designed to encourage more of California’s charter cities to pay prevailing wages on locally funded construction projects.
SB 7, which took effect in January, only grants charter cities state construction funds if they comply with prevailing wage provisions on all of their public works projects.
While the ruling is expected to be appealed, yesterday’s decision doesn’t bode well for the state funding for drinking- and waste-water infrastructure in San Diego that’s currently in limbo.
Back to City Beat, from a story (referring to an entirely different state law) that appeared before the latest court decision:
“The water board’s position is that it’s not possible for the water board to execute a loan with San Diego,” said Christopher Stevens, an engineer and supervisor with the State Water Resources Control Board.
The city has more than $67.8 million in outstanding loan applications with the state water board, according to the city’s Public Utilities Department.
Meanwhile, NBC7 is reporting that Mission Bay Hilton Resort is without water this morning as crews from the city are unable to locate a water main break. There is growing concern–since three attempts at finding the break have failed– that the source of the problem may lie underneath Interstate 5.
Now that could be a nightmare.
I wonder if anybody from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction is available to help direct traffic.
A Free Market Learning Opportunity
The unlikely duo of City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith met with the UT-San Diego editorial board yesterday to announce support for a proposal radically transforming the business model for the local taxi-cab industry.
The current legally imposed cap on the number of permits sold for $3000 to operators would be lifted, eliminating a grey market where they sell for as much as $140,000.
From UT-San Diego:
She cited a 2013 study by San Diego State University and the Center on Policy Initiatives, which found that 90 percent of licensed taxi drivers rent their cars from individual or business owners, with some lease rates averaging $400 a week for 12 hours a day. Citywide, there are currently 993 taxi permits.
The proposal sounds like a win-win for San Diego, says a UT editorial today.
San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald is proposing a free-market reform of the taxi industry that is long overdue. It will no doubt prompt howls, and probably legal challenges, from current taxi permit owners. But it would benefit taxi drivers, whom Emerald likened to the “indentured servants” of the permit holders. And it would bring greater competition to an industry that needs it, ultimately benefiting consumers with better service and lower fares.
Before I go any further here, let me say that I find myself in the highly unusual situation of agreeing with both City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and the UT editorial board.
Eliminating the permit cap is a great idea. Given that many of the city’s cab drivers have already started driving for internet-based services like Uber and Lyft, it may be a little late, but…
(Take a deep breath…this,too, shall pass…)
…I’m skeptical about this proposal ever getting past the city council, at least in its present incarnation.
I do think we’ll get to see a lesson on San Diego politics.While the actual number of taxi permit holders may be small, they’ve invested wisely in politicians of both political persuasions over the years.
I Get Press Releases, Carl DeMaio Edition
Our Republican candidate for the 52nd District Congressional seat has an idea, which is a good thing, since his record of plagiarizing stuff is starting to get a little embarrassing.
Just days after the California legislature voted to restrict innovative ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, Carl DeMaio will unveil the first federal law to defend ridesharing services from discrimination and outright bans.
California’s move to protect the powerful cab companies’ monopoly is reflective of similar displays of crony-capitalism in other states and localities across the country – thus necessitating DeMaio’s solution through federal legislation.
The release says he recruited “Uber and Lyft users” to stand with him at Spanish Landing Park at high noon to hear him say, “This is an issue of personal freedom – specifically the right of consumers to choose their ride rather than gave special interests and politicians choose it for them.”
There’s just one.small.problem. The law he’s proposing to have the federal government override didn’t make it.
Transportation startups Uber and Lyft today announced support for California Assembly bill AB 2293, a measure that will require “ridesharing” companies in California to insure drivers as soon as they log into a ridesharing app to pick up passengers.
Prior to today, Uber and Lyft had aggressively fought the bill for months. However, the opposing sides reached a surprising compromise today: The bill has been amended and now requires ridesharing companies to provide $200,000 in coverage once a driver turns on their app — down significantly from the originally proposed $750,000.
Don’t worry, Carl will probably take credit for the compromise.
On This Day: 1917 – Ten suffragists were arrested as they picketed the White House. 1963 -The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech march—was held in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 people participating. 1964 – The Beatles appeared on the cover of “LIFE” magazine.
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