Business interests opposed to raising the minimum wage in San Diego haven’t given up, despite a 6-3 city council vote on Monday, July 14, approving an ordinance boosting wages for an estimated 172,000 workers.
On Tuesday they launched a major public relations campaign seeking to portray the council vote as undemocratic and unfair to their interests. In closed door meetings led by Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, so-called business leaders are considering the logistics of mounting a signature gathering campaign to place an initiative on the ballot seeking to overturn the minimum wage increase.
Although meeting the August 8th deadline for inclusion on the November 2014 ballot is unlikely, a successful campaign completed by year’s end would have the effect of suspending the city council ordinance until such time as a vote could be taken. The next scheduled election is in June 2016.
Todd Gloria: Architect of Dysfunction?
A key element in setting up these kinds of so-called public initiatives is controlling the narrative, and the downtown spin doctors have already pumped up the volume.
GOP-leaning flack Tony Manolatos emailed the media Tuesday announcing the ‘availability’ of Neighborhood Market Association’s Mark Arabo for interviews.
From the press release:
“Two weeks ago Todd Gloria decided to shun the thoughts and concerns of the small business community,” Arabo said. “Yesterday, he turned a blind eye to the citizens of the very city he committed to serving. We oppose the minimum wage hike not simply because of its consequences, but for its complete disregard of the Democratic process. Todd has shown himself to be the architect of dysfunction in San Diego politics. And, without the perspective of San Diegans being properly represented in our local government, the price we pay is not just our vote — but the entirety of our voice.”
Wednesday’s UT-San Diego coverage includes the Arabo assault, including an element of “truthiness” reminiscent of the campaign to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan. (Remember? 46,000 jobs at stake! Navy will leave San Diego!)
Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the San Diego Small Business Coalition, said such divisive issues should be decided by voters.
Arabo also criticized Gloria, who previously proposed a more aggressive wage hike to $13.09 an hour by 2017, for characterizing the legislation as a compromise.
“He was negotiating with himself,” Arabo said. “A lot of groups lead with a high number and go to a lower number and say it’s a compromise.”
Further down in the UT article we’re told “Gloria said crafting the new law took six months of research, dialogue and compromise, noting that he met with dozens of business leaders.”
That’s putting it mildly. The City Council President all-but-begged for input from the business community. When a hardware store owner became a poster child for the opposition, Gloria sought him out, made compromises and won his support. (The store owner, under pressure from the Chamber-types, has since retracted his position.)
Tired of Being Trickled Down On…
Wednesday’s sermon from Mission Valley via the Daily Fishwrap takes the tack of ridiculing the minimum wage proposal, starting out with:
Wow. Who knew it would be so easy to reduce poverty in San Diego?
Papa Doug’s minions took issue with the council not putting the measure on the ballot. So now they’ll just have to spew Republi-Truth in support of a referendum.
There’s just one problem. Unfortunately, reducing poverty is not that simple. If it was, the nation would not still be having these debates every year or so — 76 years after Congress first began setting a statutory minimum in 1938.
Reducing poverty is hard, complicated stuff. Just as a starter, it requires education, training and the development of skills that are a good match for the modern economy. There was almost no talk of that at Monday night’s council hearing — not, at least, by the six Democrats who pushed Gloria’s “compromise” proposal.
The editorial writers at UT-San Diego conveniently skip over the question at the heart of this matter: three-plus decades of economic policy that have destroyed opportunity for all but the most privileged few.
The elites of the ‘business community’ in San Diego have historically encouraged the trickle down notion of economic policy that is at the heart of growing inequality in the United States.
Now the people being trickled down on are asking for a fair wage.
And the privileged class (and those that share their interests) of San Diego is balking at the very nerve of those folks for even asking. Plus they must really enjoy having restaurant employees who are too poor to take a sick day sneeze in their food.
“The Sky is Falling”
The more ‘reasonable voices’ on the Chamber of Commerce side of this equation are crafting a tale of economic gloom as part of this mis-information campaign.
Here’s former-Mayor Jerry Sanders, as reported by 10News:
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce remains deeply concerned about the negative impacts a city mandated minimum wage increase will have on San Diego businesses. We are already seeing, and hearing from our members, that businesses are raising prices and cutting jobs in response to the July 1 State increase to $9 per hour.
That’s right folks. People are already getting canned. Be sure to remember this “fact” next month, or whenever the next economic reports on our city come out. The prophets of doom and gloom have failed with their predictions in Santa Fe and San Jose. And they will also fail in San Diego.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines in today’s news accounts to see that Sanders and his gang are headed towards calling for a referendum.
The UT-San Diego lede in this story agrees with my analysis:
Leaders of San Diego’s business community say they’ve begun exploring a referendum that could overturn the City Council’s vote on Monday to incrementally increase the local minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by January 2017.
Here’s Todd Gloria’s take on that possibility, via 10News:
“A couple of things come to mind — I think there may be better ways that they can spend their time and their money than opposing a pay increase and providing sick leave to their employees,” he said. “I also don’t know that it’s the best way to attract business to your hotel or your restaurant to spend money, telling everyone you want your employees to work while they are sick.”
Over at Voice of San Diego, writer Liam Dillion takes the view that, while it’s unlikely there will be a challenge, it has happened before:
This has happened successfully before in the recent past with business-backed petition drives that ultimately doomed Council decisions to increase the affordable housing fee and implement a new community plan in Barrio Logan. Business leaders already are making some noise about doing it again.
But this time seems harder. Getting people to sign petitions to toss out a wage hike for workers is no easy sell. Gloria, at a Tuesday press conference, threw some more cold water on the idea. He said there wasn’t enough time to collect petitions to force the issue onto the November ballot. So the first it could appear is June 2016, he said, which means the battle would drag on for years. If business groups decide to fight back, advocates for a wage increase could put an even larger hike on the ballot themselves, a risk opponents might not want to take.
“I think that everyone can see that this is a reasonable compromise that was adopted last night and that we ought to embrace this and move forward with this rather than have a protracted battle that could have more unintended consequences for businesses in the future,” Gloria said.
Will They or Won’t They?
An attempt by business groups calling themselves Forward Seattle to overrule their city council vote for a $15 minimum wage by referendum has failed, according to Working Washington:
So far, 15,004 of Forward Seattle’s 18,928 petition signatures have been reviewed, and only 11,412 have been validated as legitimate signatures from actual voters — a 76% verification rate. At this point, Forward Seattle could not meet the minimum standard of 16,510 valid signatures even if every single one of the 3,924 remaining signatures were verified.
The numbers are clear: Forward Seattle’s minimum wage repeal will not qualify for the ballot. Our phased-in $15 minimum wage law will take effect as passed unanimously by the City Council and signed into law by the Mayor.
In the end I think it’s very probable that San Diego’s plutocrats will opt for a referendum, despite the risks, just to prove a point: screw you little people. And for the same reason a dog licks himself. Because he can.
As former basketball player Bill Walton said in testifying before the City Council on Monday night:
“You will hear scare tactics, you will hear people trying to spread fear. But you people today, as our leaders, have the chance to inspire hope.”
I say: if Jerry Sanders and his cohorts want a fight, bring it on.
The above is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column at our online media partner and prodigy – San Diego Free Press.