By Doug Porter
Political consultant Jason Roe is making the rounds of local media, hemming and hawing over whether there will be a campaign opposing San Diego’s long-delayed opportunity to vote on a modest increase in minimum wage.
KPBS and Voice of San Diego have provided platforms for this passive-aggressive approach to class warfare and you can be sure the original thinkers at the local broadcast media won’t be far behind.
In between crying the blues about probable lack of funding for a defense of corporate welfare (minimum wage jobs require government assistance for employees to survive), Roe’s letting loose with the usual misinformation designed to confuse voters.
On KPBS, he told the whopper about the Chamber of Commerce-organized campaign to block implementation of a city council ordinance increasing pay and allowing for earned sick days being about giving voters a say.
A group of business organizations, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association, spent more than $500,000 to block the wage increase unless it was approved by voters in June.
Yet when the referendum forced the council to either rescind the ordinance or place it on the ballot, Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders spoke against putting the increase to a vote. He argued for rescinding the increase entirely because it would be “bad for business owners.”
The public signing their petitions weren’t the only ones being misled by anti-minimum wage crew. It seems as though one of Sanders’ “job creators” is miffed.
From Voice of San Diego:
…Ann Kinner, who as owner of Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts in Point Loma was something of a public face against the wage hike back in 2014, said she was dismayed when she learned the coalition was considering letting the increase pass without a fight.
“It’s a disservice to those of us who stuck our necks out,” Kinner said. “We put in a lot of time and effort; to just drop it doesn’t sit right at all. I don’t recall any conversations that said we were going to get it on the ballot and just see what happens. Waiting two years, to see it go down the tubes? It makes no sense at all.”
There will likely be some funding to oppose the increase. It’s just not clear how much.
On the Voice of San Diego weekend podcast, Roe started out a segment on the minimum wage by repeating the oft-disproved narrative about its importance as an entry point into the workforce for teenagers.
As noted at the Economic Policy Institute, 89% of workers who would benefit from a $12 minimum wage are at least 20 years old. In fact, the average age of a minimum wage earner is thirty-six; more than a third are over forty. Nearly 6 in 10 minimum wage earners work full time; more than 1 in 4 are supporting children. On average, they bring in more than half their family’s total income.
As listener Ken Brucker said in a Tumblr post:
Listeners of this podcast are left with the out-dated views about working for the minimum wage of a connoisseur of fine blazer pocket hankies as opposed to current realities of working at minimum wage. To think the best of The Voice of San Diego would be to think that they would cover the debate about minimum wage with some balance in spite of the low propensity of the working poor to sponsor VOSD. I look forward to an occasion when VOSD gives an educated, well spoken advocate for San Diego’s working poor to contradict Jason Roe’s sophistry.
Podcast co-host Andy Keatts responded to Brucker’s concerns.
— Andrew Keatts (@andy_keatts) March 7, 2016
The reality is opponents of the minimum wage ordinance–without even having an organized effort– have managed to score a series of media references to their positions with not much more than a passing reference to the two groups filing in support.
KPBS quoted Todd Gloria, warning against buying into the we’re-not-going-to-campaign meme:
City Councilman Todd Gloria, who drafted the wage increase measure and is one of its most vocal supporters, said he “isn’t buying it” that business groups will sit the campaign out.
During the signature gathering process, Gloria said, “The tactics that the opponents of the minimum wage increase used were so deceptive and dishonest that I’m not believing this line that they’re not going to mount a fight. It would be keeping in their past practices to say that they’re not but actually move forward with an aggressive campaign.”
If pay hike proponents “took them at their word” and didn’t work to reach voters, “it’s possible we could get swamped with out-of-town anonymous cash and end up losing,” Gloria said.
Trust me, Roe and his friends in the corporate hospitality industry will be raising money. In the meantime, they’d like to milk the local media for as much free publicity as they can get.
There will be a campaign this spring to support the city council ordinance. Stayed tuned to this space for details.
It’s also likely there will be a fall campaign to raise the minimum wage to an even higher level than the $11.50 called for in the city ordinance. Let’s take these things one step at a time.
District 9 City Council Race Loses a Candidate
I’ve been busy lately doing background interviews with candidates to inform my coverage of June contests, starting out with D9. (I’m waiting until after Easter to start publishing these stories because right now most people are barely aware that there is a primary election.)
I hadn’t even gotten around to requesting a sit down with Sandra Galindo, candidate of the San Diego Socialist Campaign. Now she’s dropped out of the race, the irony being that housing –the focus of her campaign– is at the root of her decision to move out of the district.
Unfortunately, I am withdrawing from the race for San Diego City Council District #9. The main reason? I cannot afford to continue paying high rent each month to live in the City.
Fortunately for my family of four, our housing application was approved after 10 years of difficult struggle surviving San Diego’s high cost of living and working low-wage jobs.
The apartment that was assigned to us is outside of the district.
The reality is that for years now we have had a difficult time making ends meet. Comrades and friends, my parents, my sister, and others have been helping me keep afloat all this time. Even with the help, I am falling deeper and debt It’s impossible to keep asking for more help knowing I cannot repay it.
While I feel the desire to fight to be a voice for working people and to challenge the political establishment controlled by the rich, who profit from high rents and low wages, I feel I cannot let go this opportunity. I cannot wait another ten years or more for this opportunity for myself and my three daughters.
Another of the candidates in this contest actually moved into the district to be eligible to run.
The Park vs The School
Supporters of two iconic San Diego institutions are headed for a confrontation.
San Diego High School has a big place in local history, dating back to the 1880s. The school just happens to be built on 34 acres belonging to Balboa Park, which also has a big place in local history.
Its lease with the city is due to expire in 2024. The Balboa Park Heritage Association, citing a section of the city charter prohibiting the use of dedicated park lands for “educational purposes,” wants the land back. They say making an exception for SDHS will lead to other schools encroaching on the park.
They’ve published a memo outlining their case:
As stated by Mr. Vanderhaug, an assistant San Diego City Attorney at the time, a compromise was achieved in the 1974 Lease. The District could retain use of the Park Lands for 50 years, at a total rent of $10,000, or $200 per year. At the end of this lease term, the Park Lands were to be vacated and returned to the City for use as dedicated Park Lands. During the 59 year Lease term, SDUSD was to locate and acquire new non-park lands for a new campus, and to establish and fund a reserve for the campus construction costs.
Rather than undertaking its agreed obligations under this 1974 Sweetheart Agreement [$200 a year in “rent” for 34 acres of prime Park Lands], the District simply waited, did nothing to locate a non-Park Lands site, took no steps over 42 years to reserve funds for a new campus, and now hopes to repeat the sweetheart deal. The District apparently has no intention of performing its written commitment to remove itself from the Park Lands by the end of the lease as agreed in 1974.
Council member David Alvarez has been one of the more consistent supporters of city parks. He also just happens to have graduated from SDHS in 1998.
Alvarez thinks the school should stay and is leading a Save San Diego High petition campaign.
This lease runs out in seven years. Right now fifth graders in Logan Heights don’t know if they will be able to attend their neighborhood high school, and parents throughout the school district are uncertain about whether their kids would be able to attend San Diego High’s top ranked international baccalaureate program.
On February 3rd, the San Diego Unified School District came to a City Council committee to ask for clarifying language in the City Charter that would allow San Diego High School to continue to operate and solve this problem once and for all. Unfortunately, my colleagues on that committee unanimously rejected this request.
So now, fellow Cavers, it’s up to us to SAVE SAN DIEGO HIGH SCHOOL. We can’t let the oldest high school in San Diego, and the third oldest high school in California be torn down by City Politicians. When San Diego High opened (as the Russ school) in 1882, less than three thousand people lived in the City. Generations of San Diegans graduated from San Diego High, and today the campus is a public asset for the entire community. It is one of San Diego Unified’s most used school sites for community events, such as Stand Down for Homeless Vets. I’m not going to stand idly by and allow City Politicians to force the school district to waste millions of dollars tearing down one of our City’s treasures. Please join me and SIGN THIS PETITION and tell city hall that we can’t afford to lose San Diego High!
On This Day: 1908 – Cincinnati’s Mayor Leopold Markbreit announced before the city council that, “Women are not physically fit to operate automobiles.” 1932 – Three thousand unemployed auto workers, led by the Communist Party of America, braved the cold in Dearborn, Mich., to demand jobs and relief from Henry Ford. The marchers got too close to the gate and were gassed. After re-grouping, they were sprayed with water and shot at. Four men died immediately; 60 were wounded. 1971 – A thousand U.S. planes bombed Cambodia and Laos.
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