A few days ago I received an email tipping me off to the fact that Michelle Shocked would be playing a free concert here in San Diego. Her socially conscious songwriting and troubadoresque singing style appealed to me and, hey, the price was certainly right.
I wandered into the Civic Center Plaza shortly before noon just in time to catch the end of the sound check. I was left wondering why Michelle Shocked even needed a sound check, as she clearly possessed a set of pipes so strong that a public address system seemed unnecessary.
The “hook” for the event was that this was to be a rally in support of the five year anniversary of the “Living Wage Ordinance”. This piece of legislation, passed by the City Council, set wage and benefit standards for companies that do business with the City of San Diego. Business groups opposed the law, saying that it would drive many small businesses under or eliminate jobs. Organized labor supported the law, even though it didn’t really impact union members, as a means of fighting poverty.
So five years have passed and, according to a recent city report, over one thousand local families have benefited from the law. Many no longer are requiring government assistance through programs like food stamps and MediCal.
Employers have gained increased productivity along with decreased employee turnover. And the quality of services provided to the City has also reportedly improved. The dire consequences predicted by the Chamber of Commerce and others who opposed the ordinance have failed to materialize.
I enjoyed the music, posed for a few pictures taken by people who thought my OB Rag tee-shirt was cool, and headed off to enjoy the rest of my day.
“Excuse me, sir [damn, I hate being old!], are you a registered voter?”
“Why, yes, I am,”
I replied, feeling pretty sure that whatever petition I was being asked to sign would be one that I’d already seen before.
Much to my surprise, I hadn’t seen this petition before. It was called the “Competition and Transparency in City Contracting Initiative”. The young man assured me that I was being asked to sign a petition that would place an initiative on the November ballot that would require the City government to place all contracts over $25,000 on-line so voters would be better informed about where their moneys were being spent.
It sounded too good to be true. Why would an initiative be required to do this? So, I took a deep breath and stopped to read the actual language of the petition that was in front of me.
And then I saw it. Hidden right there in the middle of this sucka was a paragraph that he hadn’t bothered to tell me about: the real purpose of this little act was to repeal the living wage ordinance.
I refused to sign the petition and said something about it being just plain wrong that he was trying the deceive people.
His response: “Are you a City worker?”
My reply: “No, I’m just trying to be a decent human being”.
With that he stomped off, no doubt looking for his next easy mark.
I’ve since found out more about this so-called “Competition and Transparency in City Contracting Initiative”. The teabaggers are all over it. Councilman and Republican Carl DeMaio —who’s famous for his barrage of misleading and uninformed sound bites about nearly everything having to do with the actual running of this city— is one of the main backers of this initiative. In short, it’s another right-wing campaign that hopes to fool the public.
And the initiative is “Paid for by San Diegans for Fair and Open City Contracting, 7185 Navajo Road, Suite P, San Diego 92119.” Google this and it shows as “Re-Elect Kevin Faulconer’s” Campaign 2010 address.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t sign this one.