By Doug Porter
City Council President Todd Gloria is walking the walk this week, pledging to live on a minimum wage budget to draw attention to the real life consequence of the big business-sponsored campaign to block a local increase in pay for workers at the bottom of the pay scales.
Gloria, along with small business owner Alma Rodriguez and Arnulfo Manriquez, CEO of MAAC (the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty) held a press conference on Wednesday pledging to “Live the Wage Challenge.” After average expenses for taxes and housing are considered, this leaves them $51 for food, transportation and other basic necessities.
The beauty of this pledge is that it focuses attention on the day-to-day reality for low wage workers. Yes, it’s a stunt. It sheds light (and publicity) on the struggles that thousands of San Diegans face every day.
A Half Million People Hungry in San Diego
Over at KPBS they ran a story today making the point of just how serious an issue San Diego’s poverty wages are:
Almost a half-million people received donations last year from San Diego-area food pantries, according to a report released Thursday by Feeding America San Diego.
The survey found a total of 473,500 people received food donations. On average, 54,400 unique clients were served each week…
…Jennifer Gilmore, executive director of Feeding America San Diego, said the study is done to find out who needs food assistance and what food banks are doing to help. The study documents the sources of food available to food assistance agencies across the San Diego region, what types of programs they run and how they use volunteers. It also details information about the clients who come to these agencies.
“We know that the face of hunger is changing,” Gilmore said at a news conference about the report. “We’re serving families, we serve people with jobs and with homes, and we’re serving people who are having to make tough, tough choices every single day between paying utilities and keeping food on the table.”
Is the Live the Wage Challenge a Stunt?
And that’s exactly what you need to do in an environment where deliberate deception is used to mask the moral bankruptcy of the Chamber of Commerce’s campaign against poor people.
Gloria issued a challenge to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders to join him in his effort. It’s not surprising to hear they’re unwilling to participate.
What I can’t figure out is what Faulconer, Sanders and their assorted GOP consultants think they have to gain with the increasingly personal tone of attacks by their minions.
Can these guys not read a poll? Have they not heard of Google? The City Council President is well-liked by voters and is generally regarded as somebody who has risen from humble beginnings to a successful life.
Calling out Councilman Todd Gloria as some sort of spoiled rich kid, as one local radio station did yesterday in trying to drum up signatures for the anti-minimum wage referendum, is just mind boggling.
Jason Roe, the GOP consultant hired to run the anti-minimum wage campaign, suggested that Gloria “try living on unemployment as his next stunt.” He’s also been big on trying to paint Gloria as a union goon.
Running on Peanut Butter: The Media Response
Over at Voice of San Diego, Catherine Green noted that Gloria’s pledge was “dog-eared page in the politician playbook,” as she ran through a list of other politicians who’ve taken similar actions, starting with the negative blowback GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari received after living as a homeless man for a week.
Gloria has led the charge in the local effort to raise the minimum wage. The City Council overrode Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of a minimum wage hike, but business groups are working to gather signatures to force the issue onto the ballot.
There’s some merit to endeavors like these. Politicians often manage to talk about policy issues without actually mentioning or understanding the lives of the very people affected by them. Efforts like Gloria’s and Kashkari’s at least put them in contact with constituents who live the problems they’re seeking to solve.
At UT-San Diego, it was about the peanut butter sandwiches:
The council president also threw down the “Live the Wage” challenge to two major proponents of the referendum: Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Mayor Jerry Sanders, now president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Doubtful they’ll be takers, but if so, Gloria surely will have peanut butter sandwiches waiting for them.
How Was Lunch?
— Todd Gloria (@ToddGloria) September 5, 2014
Yesterday Todd Gloria tweeted a picture of his lunch: a sandwich on whole wheat bread, along with a green apple. Some local hack responded by saying if he was truly taking the challenge, he wouldn’t be able to afford the fruit. Another radio personality made the claim that Gloria was probably living off left overs in his refrigerator.
We reached out to the City Council President this morning to see how things are going. Here’s his response (note that he’s taking the high road):
“Living on minimum wage is a challenge. After only a few days, I am more adamant than ever that increasing the minimum wage is best for San Diego. Not only is it difficult to restrict my transportation and carefully consider every food choice, but I miss contributing to local businesses. I’m not visiting my neighborhood coffee shop every morning, I’m not going to the dry cleaners, I’m not going out for a quick bite Downtown for lunch. That is money that is not going to our small businesses. As challenging as this is, I know it’s my choice to live this way for a week. For too many San Diegans, this isn’t an experiment, it’s their life, and raising them up with an increased minimum wage is necessary.”
Gloria’s response and the #Decline to Sign campaign in general is a refreshing contrast to the increasingly desperate tone of opponents to the minimum wage increase over the past few days. Chamber of Commerce emails sent out this week to supporters have a real sense of urgency about them.
Today the RaiseUp San Diego campaign’s “stunt” was a press conference featuring Councilman Ed Harris, Qualcomm exec Nathan Fletcher and other veterans calling attention to the 10,000 plus ex-service members currently trying to live on minimum wage in San Diego.
“The current minimum wage in San Diego is not enough to pay the rent and buy groceries in San Diego. And then if you fall ill without sick days you fall behind in your rent,” said Joseph Rider, a disabled veteran who served as a Marine from 1971 to 1981. He discussed his most recent job as a minimum wage employee. Rider has attended a number of the Sick Leave-Minimum Wage hearings testifying to his needs and the needs of other veterans.
I have no doubt that Mr Rider, along with Harris and Fletcher, will be cast as “losers” by a Chamber sponsored press release some time this afternoon.
The Working Poor as “Losers”
A key part of the campaign to preserve economic equality is about conservative leaders selling the meme that the people at the bottom of the wage scale are lesser beings. This plays to the “makers vs takers” mentality.
“The minimum wage is mostly people who failed at life and high school kids,” Erickson said. “Seriously, look. I don’t mean to be ugly with you people. … If you’re a 30-something-year-old person and you’re making minimum wage you probably failed at life.”
Speaking of Desperate…
Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio is still reeling from this week’s endorsement by the US Chamber of Commerce of incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. The more he’s asked about this by the media, the deeper the hole DeMaio digs for himself. U.S. Chamber National Political Director Ron Engstrom let it be known yesterday that not one corporate member was willing to vouch for DeMaio’s entreaties for an endorsement.
So now, having been dissed by the corporate world, DeMaio’s going after the women’s vote.
As is usual with everything DeMaio proposes, there’s a serious downside to the ideas he’s borrowed from elsewhere.
From Voice of San Diego’s Morning Report:
Candidate Carl DeMaio announced Thursday he wants to expand access to birth control, expand time-off guarantees for workers and guarantee equal pay for women. “It’s time for [the Republican Party] to become more inclusive, more positive and reach out to all communities,” DeMaio said, according to U-T San Diego. His opponent, incumbent Rep. Scott Peters, touted his own endorsement from Planned Parenthood as proof of his commitment to women’s issues.
There are just a few things you might want to consider here.
1. The GOP plan for expanded access for birth control involves Congress stepping in and making a decision about pharmaceuticals normally made by the Food and Drug Administration. I’m sure Darrell Issa will take time off to educate himself on this issue between Benghazi hearings.
2. Making birth control an “over the counter” product places it outside the realm of medicines usually paid for by health insurance. Think about that real hard, especially if you’re a women living on poverty wages.
3. The GOP plan for time-off guarantees effectively negates the idea of overtime pay as a trade-off. This is like a huge government subsidy that will benefit mostly large corporations, which still have plenty of excuses under the law to deny time off. Given the current reality of rampant wage theft currently en vogue with too many companies, I say that trusting their good intentions is not a viable idea.
4. Given that just about every (43 out of 46 in the Senate) Republican voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act this last spring and the fact that they’ve opposed virtually every other equal pay proposal, I’d say that Carl’s promise is an empty one.
On This Day:1698 – Russia’s Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards. 1882 – Between 20,000 and 30,000 marchers participated in New York’s first Labor Day parade, demanding the 8-hour day. 1906 – Bradbury Robinson executed the first legal forward pass in football. Robinson threw the ball to Jack Schneider of St. Louis University in a game against Carroll College.
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