By Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press
Seriously. We need to know. UT-San Diego and KPBS have run stories about an initiative in the works proposing an increase in the minimum wage that’s less than the one currently under consideration by the City Council. In fact, the “increase” it purports to offer wouldn’t affect 93% of businesses small and large in the city via loopholes large enough to drive a truck through.
It takes serious money and/or a large grass roots organization to collect signatures for a ballot initiative. Essentially you’ve got to get 100,000 people to sign a petition in the hope that 68,000 or so will be recognized as valid. The shipbuilders association spent somewhere south of a half million dollars to get their measure killing the Barrio Logan Community Plan on upcoming the June ballot. The 2012 Proposition B Pension Reform backers spent over a million bucks.
Yet the person who is the “face” of this competing measure, Blanca Lopez-Brown, only came up with 159 qualifying signatures on the nominating petition for her 2013 candidacy for a city council seat. She placed fifth in that special election (1,084 votes). And money? Doesn’t have any to speak of. So this begs the question, who’s really backing this initiative?
On April 4th a legal notice was published the San Diego Daily Transcript announcing “the intention of the person whose name appears hereon to circulate a petition within the City of San Diego for the purpose of amending City law to provide increased wages and other protections for employees working in the City.”
The address under Blanca Lopez Brown’s name on the notice was PO Box 720332, San Diego, CA 92172. Googling that address reveals it’s been used for a variety of enterprises, from Southern Californians for Jessica’s Law to the San Diego County Prosperity Foundation. The one thing all those groups appear to have in common is Thomas J. Zane, outgoing president of the Lincoln Club of San Diego.
Here’s a bit of the February 24th UT-San Diego article announcing Zane’s planned July departure from the Lincoln Club:
He was hired as the group’s executive director in December 2006 and has helped direct campaign and management services for mostly GOP candidates as well as opposition and support for ballot issues.
In the just-completed mayoral campaign, Zane oversaw Lincoln Club ads attacking Qualcomm executive and former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who finished third in the Nov. 19 first round.
In the runoff between City Councilmen David Alvarez and the eventual winner, mayor-elect and fellow Councilman Kevin Faulconer, the Lincoln Club funded mailers showing Alvarez holding wads of cash in a manner some groups suggested was reminiscent of a gang gesture.
And here’s another snippet from a 2012 article via San Diego Community News Group:
In the midst of downtown’s Civic Center Plaza, District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner called a press conference on Nov. 1 to address what fellow councilmembers called the “blatantly false” allegations Ray Ellis — Lightner’s opponent in the race for the District 1 seat — has circulated with last-minute election mailings to the district’s constituents.
City Council president Tony Young joined councilmembers Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald and David Alvarez to support Lightner in her attempt to dispel claims made on mailers distributed by Ellis’ campaign and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County, which assert the incumbent awarded $28 million in bonuses to city employees. The mailers refer to a former city program called Bid to Goal, which, according to the Voice of San Diego, awarded city workers up to $4,000 per year in extra pay for helping the city’s bottom line by finding efficiencies in their jobs. The program, Voice of San Diego reported on Oct. 26, was voted in and reached its peak of spending — where the $28 million figure comes from — before Lightner came to office in late 2008.
The rising awareness of inequality in the nation has made increasing the minimum wage a popular idea. The President’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour has support from small business owners and a strong majority of voters. It had majority support in the Senate, too—but not enough votes to break a Republican filibuster, which is how it died this morning.
So the backers of this competing proposal has opted for the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” strategy.
Blanca Lopez-Brown appeared on KPBS Midday Edition yesterday as an advocate for this proposal. Perhaps it was just nervousness, but she appeared to fumble her way through many of the questions.
And then there was this exchange on Twitter:
Blanca Lopez-Brown says she based the second minimum wage ballot measure on analysis by National University’s @VinceVasquezSD
A few minutes later Vasquez, who describes himself as a policy analyst, chimed in.
@KPBSMidday what analysis? I haven’t published anything on min. Wage, nor have I spoken to brown or anyone outside NUSIPR on the issue.
A few minutes later, that Tweet was deleted. UPDATE: Vasquez says it’s not deleted. I screwed up.
A search of National University’s web site does not show any materials relating to minimum wage increases among their four major policy reports and 12 shorter policy briefs.
Why Hasn’t The Question Been Asked?
Certainly this proposal looks to be a subterfuge. Perhaps it’s a negotiating tool to get the City Council to retreat on their idea of a $13.10 minimum wage. Or perhaps it’s a full-on “dirty trick” to split the vote come November.
I think the answer lies with finding out who is underwriting this. In addition to the usual suspects at the Lincoln Club, the local chapter of the Restaurant Association, since they would benefit from the loopholes in the law, would be another logical choice.
So, would the next reporter working on this story ask Ms. Lopez-Brown who’s picking up the tab? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
In the meantime please don’t sign any petitions relating to a minimum wage increase that excludes 93% of the city. There’s a 100% probability it’s this fake deal. The City Council measure doesn’t need a petition.
By the way, the REAL deal means:
- Expanded access to earned sick days to over 260,000 San Diegans;
- Increasing the wages of roughly 200,000 San Diegans;
- Raising the annual earnings of impacted workers an average of approximately $2,800; and
- Putting approximately $580 million into the pockets of San Diego’s lowest income working families, who will turn around and spend most of that money at local stores and businesses.