An Analysis of Ballot Measures for the June 2016 Primary
By Doug Porter
If there one issue symbolic of San Diego politics, it’s the fight for a bump in the local minimum wage. Almost two years after a majority of the city’s elected representatives voted for a measure increasing wages (in baby steps) and allowing for earned paid sick leave, the voters will have a say on the issue.
I won’t mince words here. If you live in the City of San Diego, vote YES on the referendum on Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage, which will appear on the June 7th ballot as Proposition I.
I know–if you vote in June–what the outcome will be. A majority of people, including business owners, support what Proposition I will do. The sky will not fall. Nobody’s going to get rich, either. It’s a gesture, an acknowledgment of the reality that things just aren’t right.
Councilman Todd Gloria all but begged representatives of local business organizations for input to help write a bill that would be fair to all. He and economic justice advocates ended up negotiating with themselves.
In San Diego, nearly one-third of the population – 438,277 people – lived below the near-poverty level of economic hardship in 2014. That included more than 40% of area children. Gloria knew raising the floor on wages –even in small increments– would have a ripple effect, perhaps even to the point where the ranks of the working poor (which increased by 3000 in 2014) would stop growing.
The fact of former Mayor Jerry Sanders and the Chamber of Commerce refusing these overtures speaks to their view of how San Diego ought to be (and largely is): a city and culture where money determines the worth of a person.
In 2014, the city council voted in support of an ordinance providing for five days of earned sick leave for most employees. The ordinance set wages to increase according to the following schedule:
- $9.75 per hour on January 1, 2015
- $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2016
- $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2017
- Wage attached to inflation beginning on January 1, 2019
Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the ordinance. Pleas by delegations of faith and community leaders fell upon deaf ears.
The City Council overrode the veto with a 6-4 vote. Now it’s 2016, and the law remains suspended.
The Chamber of Commerce reached out to trade organizations representing multinational hospitality corporations, who coughed up a half million dollars to fund a ‘Small Business Coalition.’ A total of two–count ‘em–two local businesses joined in supporting the group.
Jason Roe, Mayor Faulconer’s primary political advisor, became the spokesperson for the group, which engaged in a referendum campaign suspending the ordinance until such time as the voters would have a chance to weigh in.
The campaign was nasty. Signatures were gathered under false pretenses. Councilman Gloria even made a cellphone video of a paid signature gatherer lying in an attempt to get support. The pretense of giving voters a say was nothing more than a cynical ploy.
Knowing full well (they’d seen the polling) that voters would eventually support such a measure, the Chamber then asked the City Council to rescind the ordinance rather than allow for a public vote.
Since then, the State of California has begun the process (over 6 years) of implementing its own stepped increases in the minimum wage. The local proposition will stay ahead (by fifty cents) of the state plan for the first couple of years. Let’s face it, San Diego’s cost of living is way higher than Fresno’s.
The pending increases in the minimum wage are not enough. Some people think we shouldn’t vote for anything less than $15 an hour (or more) right away. But I don’t see them actually doing anything to make that happen. It’s all talk, no action, other than some ill-chosen words of discouragement on social media.
If you live in the City of San Diego and you’re actually going to vote this year—this might be a primary where a majority of registered voters actually do engage in this basic act of democracy—take the time to vote Yes on Proposition I. Do it, if for no other reason, to send a message to the Chamber of Commerce (and their ilk) saying we’re not waiting for trickle down promises any more.
While You’re Voting…
…There are some other propositions on the ballot.
The good news is that you don’t need to think very hard about what’s being offered up on June’s primary ballot. The bad news is that, as things stand now, voters will be looking at 20 or more ballot propositions in the fall. And many of them will require some deep thought to wade through the layers of bullshit, er advertising, you’ll be subjected to in the coming months. (Don’t worry, we’ll be here to help!)
The proposition listings in this article are excerpted from a draft of the upcoming San Diego Free Press Progressive Voter Guide, to be published in the next 10 days or so.
The final version will include our endorsements in many contests. And yes, it’s proudly biased.
The links embedded in each proposition’s title will take you to websites with additional information about them.
Endorsement Codes Key: Republicans 💀, Democrats ➕ , Labor ⊕
City of San Diego
Propositions A-H are revisions to the City Charter, and with one exception, have not drawn opposition. Mostly these are housekeeping, keeping the city laws in sync with the state and addressing shortcomings (like how to get rid of a mayor) that have emerged over the years.
Proposition A: Redistricting Commission Update ➕ 💀
Proposition B: Bond Authorization Process Update ➕ 💀
Proposition C: Property Tax Charter Language Clarification ➕💀
Proposition D: Amendment on Setting City Titles & Salaries ➕💀
Proposition E: Budget Approval Process Update ➕💀
Proposition F: Financial Operations Process Update ➕💀
Proposition G: City Audit Language Update ➕💀
Then there’s Proposition H, which is an amendment to the City Charter in furtherance of a seriously flawed agenda buried in a promise to upgrade San Diego’s infrastructure. What this amendment does is commit increases in tax revenues caused by population and economic growth without considering the fact that those same increases might actually spur a demand for city services.
Proposition H: Kersey’s Infrastructure Scheme, aka rebuild San Diego 💀
Here’s Murtaza H. Baxamusa, from an op-ed in Voice of San Diego, with the skinny:
Rebuild San Diego effectively creates a limit on future spending increases for all non-infrastructure services, such as public safety.
The measure undermines the role of the City Council in prioritizing spending during the budgeting process, and balancing the needs of city residents with the resources available that year.
Rebuild San Diego is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Unless the city were to increase tax rates to supplement the declining share of public safety and other non-infrastructure spending, the measure is likely to create an artificial ceiling on increases in public-safety spending, and consequentially cause a long-term decline in the level and quality of services.
Proposition I: Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage ➕
Did you read the first part of this article? Good. Vote Yes.
State of California
Four years ago California lawmakers enacted legislation saying that citizen-driven initiatives must appear on the November ballot. Legislature-driven measures – such as the constitutional amendment in Proposition 50 – can still make the ballot in June.
Proposition 50: California Suspension of Legislators ⊕ ➕
It doesn’t seem like there’s more than token organized opposition to Prop 50. Not a single campaign finance report has been filed with the secretary of state.
The local Republican Party web site, however, does say vote No.
CALmatters.org, a non-profit covering how Sacramento works, has posted an article with food for thought on the subject.
The lack of spending reflects a lack of big-money interests involved in this issue. There is no industry battle at play; no unions or corporations stand to win or lose. The scarcity of publicity also indicates that supporters expect the idea will be politically popular.
“The voters will look at this and say, ‘It makes sense – you act badly you shouldn’t get paid.’ But people have to look a little deeper,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor of political law at Loyola Law School.
The measure sets a high bar for suspending a legislator – approval by two-thirds of the lawmaker’s house. But it doesn’t lay out specific reasons a legislator could be suspended, prompting critics to say it could be wrongly used for retribution if a lawmaker takes a political stand leaders don’t like.
“This is going to be a great tool for them to use against people like me who stand up against the majority,” said Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine).
Welcome to California, Señor Trump
On This Day: 1963 – Bob Dylan walked out of dress rehearsals for “The Ed Sullivan Show” when CBS censors told him he could not perform “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” 1978 – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that they would no longer exclusively name hurricanes after women. 2008– U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the Agriprocessors, Inc. slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, arresting nearly 400 immigrant workers. Some 300 were convicted on document fraud charges. Several employees and lower and mid-level managers were convicted on various charges, but not the owner—although he later was jailed for bank fraud and related crimes,
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