By Doug Porter
A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.
I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.
The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”
A central tenet of traditional economics has been the idea that uneven outcomes would incentivize people to work harder or would help ensure that more money could accumulate in the hands of job investors. And there is logic to that position: if there were no differences in rewards, one winds up in the stagnation of the old Soviet Union. But there is also such a thing as going too far: if only one person gets all the rewards, that too is a recipe for no growth (as well as fractious politics).
Three principles are cited as the basis for charting a new course for the region:
- Linking high-tech with high-need: Invest in quality education and career pipelines for youth and disadvantaged workers, improve accessibility and affordability of the region’s transportation system and reduce environmental burdens and increase sustainable economic opportunities in low-income neighborhoods.
- Linking innovation and inclusion: Fostering economic inclusion, immigrant integration, and boosting community capacity through university partnerships is key.
- Linking people and place: Promoting new forms of planning and transit that help communities develop in place and connect to local employment, addressing affordable housing needs, and increasing civic engagement offer potential solutions.
Wish for Trickle Down?
It would be easy –and I’ll bet a nickle that somebody in the local governmental/corporate class makes this claim real soon– to say these paths to the future are already being followed in San Diego.
This could be shown to be the case only if you close your eyes and wish real hard for trickle down. The statistics cited in this report leave little doubt that the way things “are” constitutes a very uneven playing field.
The Union-Tribune’s Dan McSwain, though uncertain about all the recommendations in the report, was impressed with its portrayal of local reality:
I’ll wager that many business leaders will find this report hard to swallow. They would be wise to try anyway.
Setting aside the moral arguments, human capital is an economy’s most important asset.
Even if reducing disparities by raising the bottom wasn’t inherently valuable, the winds of political fashion are blowing hard in the direction of more involvement by government in the business of business, not less. San Diego’s recent fights over the minimum wage and industrial zoning in Barrio Logan may be merely harbingers.
Leveraging funding from the Ford, James Irvine and San Diego foundations, the academics at USC have delivered a manifesto for progressive activism for the next decade, stuffed with buzzwords like “environmental justice,” “equity interventions” and “community organizing.”
Here’s a snip from the KPBS coverage:
The report, “Linking Innovation With Inclusion,” also said San Diego needs greater immigrant integration and collaboration with Tijuana stakeholders.
Researchers outlined multiple strategies that revolve around lessening ethnic and geographic dividing lines, such as the U.S.-Mexico border and the I-8 Freeway, which separates low-income communities of southern San Diego from wealthier ones to the north.
“San Diego, once fragmented by economic, political, and geographical dividing lines, can become a region of networks that synergizes its parts into a greater whole,” the report said.
The USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity report cited the median age for San Diego’s Latino and black populations: 27 and 33, respectively. That’s compared with the median age for the local white population: 42.
The bottom line here is that there exists a better way forward for San Diego. While I don’t have much hope that Jerry Sanders and the Chamber of Commerce will have a change of heart, I do think the principles outline in the USC report should be used as the standard by which to evaluate local candidates for office.
Local Businesses Endorse Minimum Wage Hike
Some people are already seeing the handwriting on the wall. The Neighborhood Market Association (NMA), hardly a hotbed of progressivism, issued a press release this week about their changing perspective:
The American worker deserves more than the minimum,” [NMA President Mark] Arabo said. “Today, I am happy to say that after a year of discussion with various NMA board members we have secured a lasting position in regards to the minimum wage. We are happy to stand with labor, and with various other institutions in calling for a raised wage for San Diego workers. Oftentimes the merit of one’s decision is based on the willingness to evolve, not to remain stagnant. I stand wholeheartedly with the position taken by our board, and I applaud the small business community of San Diego for uniting behind this decision to better the lives of millions throughout the county.”
And, yes, I am aware of Mr. Arabo’s aspirations for elected office. None-the-less this move will be a bone that sticks in the craw of whatever “Small Business Coalition” the city’s oligarchs want to create for future elections.
9/11, San Diego Style
According to a report in the Orange County Register, San Diego officials have told the NFL that the Chargers need to come to the table by September 11th.
Currently the Faulconer administration is conducting negotiations on a new stadium site in Mission Valley via press release and some rather embarrassing appeals to NFL officials. The Chargers aren’t at the table. (Hint: they want a downtown stadium)
City officials told the Chargers on Tuesday the two sides need to reach a deal by the September deadline on the proposed $1.1 billion stadium in order to meet legal requirements that would enable a Jan. 12 special election to be held for the stadium.
The ownership of the Chargers have made it clear they’re not interested in the deal. The Register story makes it clear that the league is doubtful about both the expedited environmental impact report and whether the $1.1 billion price tag for a new facility is realistic.
The price tag for the Carson project is $1.75 billion. A proposed stadium in Inglewood backed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke would cost $1.86 billion. Levi’s Stadium came with a $1.3 billion price tag.
Police Reports: Maybe We Do Have a Problem (Duh!)
The major papers all have stories today concerning unarmed people of color who have died at the hands of law enforcement authorities in recent months. A video released yesterday in Cleveland is the latest outrage.
From the Associated Press, via the Union-Tribune:
A University of Cincinnati officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying the officer “purposely killed him” and “should never have been a police officer.”
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the grand jury indictment at a news conference to discuss developments in the investigation into the July 19 shooting of 43-year-old motorist Samuel DuBose by Officer Ray Tensing.
The New York Times has a rather amazing interactive page with ten of those videos.
San Diego’s Police Problems
Fortunately, the news about police in San Diego this week was not about deaths.
(Although there certainly are pending cases, like the homeless man shot and killed not long ago in the Midway district.)
KPBS reports that final approval is imminent for another $950,000 in damage settlements to women with sexual abuse claims against ex-SDPD Officer Christopher Hays.
In April, the City Council approved settlements with two other women who sued regarding Hays. One was for $1.25 million and the other for $60,000.
The City Council also heard a report this week from Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman regarding implementation of policies designed to reduce misconduct.
The glass is either half-full or half-empty, depending.
From the Union-Tribune:
A federal audit sparked by misconduct within the San Diego Police Department has led to significant changes in how supervisors are trained, the department’s leaders said Wednesday, but progress has been slow in improving an early warning system meant to zero in on troubling behavior.
The top brass was updating the City Council’s Public Safety Committee about the department’s progress in implementing the reforms recommended by auditors after a yearlong review found systemic flaws that allowed officer sexual misconduct and other offenses to go undetected for months, sometimes years.
Not Good News: School Board President Marne Foster
After a grand jury report chiding her for meddling in day-to-day operations of the School of Creative and Performing Arts on behalf of her son, you’d think SDUSD trustee Marne Foster would be treading lightly when it came to appearance of conflict of interest.
But you’d be wrong.
Morio Koran at Voice of San Diego has a story posted raising questions about a “fundraiser” thrown by Foster on behalf of her children’s college tuition.
She spread it through her networks online and told donors the money would be tax deductible. She told me the money is going through the C. Anthony Cole Repertory Dance Theatre, which is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit. But the crowdfunding page where people actually donate says money goes directly to Foster.
Anthony Cole, who leads the nonprofit, said he didn’t have time to discuss the details, but sent a letter explaining that he has known Foster’s family for years and was happy to help support them.
When I asked him how his money would go from the nonprofit to Foster’s sons, he wrote: “I don’t see how any of these questions are germane to an article about two young men attempting to complete their education.”
The school board trustee has deflected past criticisms leveled at her:
Foster dismissed any concerns raised in the Grand Jury report as part of an ongoing effort to create a misleading narrative about her, for political purposes. She said she has fought passionately for equity for all students, which not everyone appreciates.
I have absolutely no quibble with Ms Foster’s dedication to equitable, quality education. I’ve heard her speak. It’s powerful. The politics are progressive.
Unfortunately, my daughter attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts during the time period Foster’s son was attending the school. There are mitigating factors, like the fact he was a minor when various events may have taken place…But…
If it walks like a duck….
On This Day: 1898 – “Scientific America” carried the first magazine automobile ad. The ad was for the Winton Motor Car Company of Cleveland. 1999 – United Airlines agreed to offer domestic-partner benefits to employees and retirees worldwide. 1974 – The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon for blocking the Watergate investigation and for abuse of power.
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