By Doug Porter
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders took to the airwaves yesterday to announce his group of paid canvassers had gathered 56,000 signatures (at up to $12 each) towards implementing their plan to keep the working poor in poverty for as long as possible.
There was no longer any pretense about a “small business coalition” fighting to save mom and pop stores from bankruptcy or simply getting this issue before the voters. This campaign was about the power of the wealthy to dictate policy to the city. This was and is about the sustaining an economic model that asks taxpayers to subsidize lower tiers of workers via government programs while corporations rack up record profits.
By the time financial reports reveal just how much money was spent by the Chamber and their corporate allies in the hospitality industry spent to gather signatures, the San Diego clerk’s office will have certified the results. I’ll venture a guess that they spent over a million bucks, probably not including the hotel rooms provided for vagabond canvassers from as far away as Michigan and Ohio.
A Victory for Liars, Cheats and Ayn Rand
It’s possible that there will be lawsuits related to the dozens of incidents where canvassers were documented lying to voters. The most common fabrication involved telling people they were signing to increase the minimum wage. There were over 2000 rescission forms filled out by people realizing they’d been duped.
As the backers of the Barrio Logan Community Plan learned, the deck is stacked against any legal appeals aimed at overturning a well-funded referendum scheme. The city attorney and the district attorney will do as they are told by their wealthy taskmasters and feign no interest in establishing the truth.
The children with asthma caused by corporate polluters in Barrio Logan are just supposed to suck it up. The promises made about arriving at a “better” (for business) solution for that community were empty. Now corporate polluters will be granted (and yes they are asking) for permits to operate adjacent to residential complexes.
Here’s KPBS on the situation:
The City Clerk’s Office now has 30 calendar days to verify enough signatures from registered voters were collected. If the group has enough, the City Council can either take back the incremental increase to $11.50 an hour by 2017, call a special election on the increase or put it on the June 2016 ballot.
If the measure goes to the ballot, wages will not increase to $9.75 an hour in 2015 or $10.50 an hour in 2016 as scheduled. Any raises will be delayed until after the vote, and then will only go into effect if voters approve the increase.
Former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now the Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, made the announcement about the number of signatures collected. He said if the increase goes to a vote, opponents will be ready to fight.
“We’re prepared to wage an aggressive education effort so that voters understand what this means to our economy and the loss of jobs,” he said.
The Chamber will no doubt be ready to spend another million dollars for a low voter-turnout election with a campaign stressing fabricated and tainted data designed to scare the bejesus out of people. Maybe they can run TV ads saying with increased wages poor brown workers will buy knives and rape white women in the suburbs. After all, if you’re gonna tell a lie, you may as well make it a big one.
A Sad Day for Todd Gloria
Supporters of the minimum wage increase have not announced what their next move will be, saying that it’s important for the verification process to proceed.
Here’s City Council President Todd Gloria, quoted on 10News:
“Considering the expense and deceit that big business poured into this campaign, I am not surprised that this many signatures were collected,” Gloria said. “With corporate interests flying in signature gatherers from other states and paying them up to $12 per signature, I understand the workers’ willingness to go to extreme lengths to cajole people into signing.”
He contended that some potential signers were told that the petition was to increase the minimum wage.
I feel kind of sorry for Gloria. The City Councilman looked at the data, saw the political pressure for an increase was inevitable, and tried to get in front of it. (And, yes, of course, it was/is good politically) He bent over backwards to try and negotiate a compromise on this issue, only to be ignored, rejected and even ridiculed (See today’s UT-San Diego) for his efforts.
One need look no further that the treatment of the City Council President (who has a near-sterling reputation with many voters) to understand the depth of Chamber’s contempt for the working people of this city. I can only hope he remembers this political lesson as he makes his way up (trust me, he will) the political food chain.
— Half in Ten (@HalfinTen) September 17, 2014
The Chamber of War
As Carl DeMaio, master of cheap shots that get him free publicity, noted yesterday, the Chamber’s referendum idea offered no positive ideas. It’s the Party of No writ large, loud and proud.
Jason Roe, frontman for the Chamber’s “Small Business” effort took to the airwaves last weekend to announce in so many words that non-teenaged minimum wage workers were a losers. He left out the less-than-human, probably brown and likely female part of that assertion because he knows he and his kind are inherently better.
What’s the Chamber’s plan for the people living under poverty line in San Diego?
Over at Doug Manchester’s UT-San Diego, the answer is to be found in today’s editorial, Stop the war on San Diego’s business community:
Now is the time to stop tinkering around the edges and to attack those problems at their core. Now is the time for City Hall, business leaders, school leaders, state leaders and others to join forces to launch a war on some of the real causes of poverty: alarmingly high rates of school truancy and dropouts and a curriculum that fails to prepare students for the modern economy; a state tax code that does anything but foster economic growth; state and local fees and regulations that make the cost of living in California higher for everyone, particularly the poor.
But at the very least, stop the war on business.
Trickle Down Means Trickle Up
Let me tell you what they really mean.
We were talking about a minimum wage increase in San Diego. City Hall has no control over education. So that’s a non-starter.
So let’s imagine for a minute that the UT-San Diego/Chamber dream team got elected to statewide office and they could tear themselves away from chasing immigrants and gays out of state.
What does history say happens when they get their way? Have lower taxes and laissez faire capitalism ever resulted in an improved standard of living? Nope. Not unless you’re ultra-wealthy.
Here are a couple of contemporary examples of their economic policies in action…
In Kansas, the implementation of the Chamber’s dream of lower taxes by GOP Gov. Brownback is bankrupting the state’s government. Funding for education will inevitably be chopped, even as the state’s credit rating is falling.
From the Kansas City Star:
Kansas has had one of the nation’s poorest rates of employment growth during Brownback’s time in office, including since the first tax cuts took effect in 2013.
The new Bureau of Labor Statistics report also reveals that Kansas — like eight other states — had fewer jobs at the end of June than it did seven months ago.
In Wisconsin, the state that GOP congressional candidate Carl DeMaio wanted to emulate, for it’s anti-labor and deregulation agenda, the state is dead last in job growth in the midwest.
From Politifact, which rated this claim made by Democrat Mary Burke as “True:”
That data, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is considered the most exhaustive and credible for employment trends. It is based on a census of 96 percent of all American non-farm employers.
Our examination of the data for the three-year period cited by Burke shows Wisconsin 10th out of the 10 states — “dead last” — just below Illinois when it comes to growth in private-sector jobs.
“The low growth in jobs in Wisconsin has been matched by very low income growth and poor levels of consumer spending,” University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee labor economist John Heywood told us. “The state has been slower than its peers in recovering from the recession.”
Meanwhile, the states and cities where the minimum wage has been increased in recent times have not seen a slowdown in either job growth or economic growth.
From the New Republic:
In 2014, 13 states raised their minimum wages, five through legislation and eight through inflation indexing. Gould compared wage growth for the bottom 10 percent of Americans in those 13 states with the rest of America. In the former, real wages grew 0.9 percent, a non-negligible increase. In the remaining 37 states, real wages declined 0.1 percent. In other words, wage growth for the bottom 10 percent of Americans is entirely attributable to states that increased their minimum wages.
That’s good news, but it’s not unexpected. Conservatives largely concede that raising the minimum wage increases wages. They oppose it, they say, because it will reduce job growth. So, did that happen in those 13 states? Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden and a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, looked at the data. He found that job growth was higher in states that raised their minimum wages than it was in those that didn’t (1.8 percent versus 1.5 percent).
Bernstein is quick to point out the limitations of this data. “Now, these are all small changes and I wouldn’t make a federal case out of any of them,” he writes. But it’s also important to note that minimum wage hikes have not crippled job growth in those 13 states.
The best the Chamber of Misery can do to counter these arguments is a survey they took of their own members and a lone economist at National University who “thinks” higher wages is a bad idea.
Check Your Wallet and Stay Tuned
The Chamber of Misery lately has been on a quest to re-brand itself. There’s a new logo, Jerry Saunders made the rounds of friendly journalists and a new ‘git er done’ attitude. In the coming months we’d like like to give the Chamber a little truth in advertising push, so people really do understand that brand.
The real purpose of the Chamber is to figure ways to pick taxpayers pockets and deposit that money in their members bank accounts, something we’ll be exploring depth in weeks to come.
As the financial reports emerge from the funding behind the anti-minimum wage campaign we’ll be sharing that information so you can make informed decisions about where to spend your money. And we won’t be shy about it.
The idea has been proffered that the Halloween season might be a good time for a little street theater aimed at exposing the Chamber’s role in perpetuating the horrors of poverty and the onset of a new era of feudalism in local politics. We’ll be sure to keep you informed about developments on this front.
Taking a Bite Out of Crime
The industries the Chamber of Misery is so enamored of defending are the prime offenders in wage theft, like the fast food, retail and hospitality industries. And there is a huge crime wave going right under our noses. They, of course, see nothing wrong with all this. Or they’ve never gotten around to saying anything because they too busy counting their cash.
From Think Progress:
The amount of money employers had to pay because they were found guilty of wage theft is nearly three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
EPI gathered figures of money recovered for victims of wage theft — which occurs when an employer has workers perform tasks off the clock or pay for their own uniforms, violating labor laws — from the Department of Labor, state labor departments, state attorneys general, and research firms. In 2012, $933 million was paid in back wages for wage theft violations, although that figure is an under-count because there were six state departments of labor and five attorneys general the organization couldn’t contact.
Compare that to the less than $350 million stolen in all robberies, including from banks, residences, stores, and on the street in 2012. That’s not just the figure for those that were solved, but for any robbery simply reported to the police.
We’ll be looking at local cases of wage theft and documenting the role those companies play in promoting the Chamber’s causes.
We have not yet begun to fight.
On This Day: 1787 – A Constitution for the United States was signed by delegates at the Constitutional Convention. 1868 – At a New York convention of the National Labor Congress, Susan B. Anthony called for the formation of a Working Women’s Association. As a delegate to the Congress, she persuaded the committee on female labor to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. But male delegates deleted the reference to the vote. 2011 – The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a 2-monthencampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The event led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.”
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@