Who’s Funding the Competing Minimum Wage Initiative in San Diego?

by on May 1, 2014 · 17 comments

in Economy, Health, Labor, Politics, San Diego

Minimum wageBy 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.

via 10News

via 10News

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.

activist art

Activist art on University Avenue, via RaiseUp San Diego’s Twitter feed

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.

Bianca-Lopez-BrownBlanca 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:

KPBS Midday Edition ?@KPBSMidday

Blanca Lopez-Brown says she based the second minimum wage ballot measure on analysis by National University’s @VinceVasquezSD

vasquezA few minutes later Vasquez, who describes himself as a policy analyst, chimed in.

Vince Vasquez ?@VinceVasquezSD

@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.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

silverstein May 1, 2014 at 11:17 am

Where am I supposed to get this extra money to pay double wages? Either I raise my prices by half again ( and lost half my customers and risk the business) or cut loose half my workers and work the rest twice as hard.

You all seem to think I as a business owner have massive cash in the bank, or a magic wand to wave and create money. I don’t. The economy is screwed and revenue has been dropping for the last 6-7 years.

This proposal is only going to result in massive unemployment for the unskilled, or higher prices. Nobody is going to pay $13/hr (actually $18+ real costs if you add in taxes) for a worker who is bringing in only $15/hr.

We get slaughtered by regulations out the ying yang, taxes 4 times a year, surprise inspections, constant threat of lawsuits etc and now this.

This idea is ridiculous. The Government fixed inflation. There is no inflation any more, just ask them, they have proof.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Bull pucky; many of the proposals are for companies with 500 employees or more. Small merchants are not the ones who will have to cope.

The income gap has grown dangerously wide over the past decades. This is a democratic way to level the playing field just a wee bit.


Hormel Chavez May 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm

“many of the proposals are for companies with 500 employees or more. Small merchants are not the ones who will have to cope. ”

Then that would mean fast food joints will still be paying the $8 min wage since most are owned as independent franchises. If that’s the case then this whole movement is meaningless.

“The income gap has grown dangerously wide over the past decades. This is a democratic way to level the playing field just a wee bit.”

Let make it $50 per hour. That will really level the playing field and with that extra money all of our economic problems will be over. Think of the possibilities.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I’m sorry, you really don’t understand the concept of trying to get people who work their asses off some kind of wage that they can actually live on.


John Filthy May 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Instead why not abolish the minimum wage altogether? Instead have a maximum CEO to worker pay ratio – say 50:1 so if a CEO wants to make more than $1,000,000 a year they have to pay their lowest wage employees more than $20,000 a year.


Bearded OBcean May 1, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Why not build more and taller properties in OB? Wouldn’t that provide jobs in the town and increase the supply of homes, making them more affordable for people who are making the minimum wage? People often complain about the cost of living at the beach, but that seems like a sensible means of providing more and cheaper homes for the 99%.


shel May 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I agree with silverstein. The idea is ludicrous. While the desire to raise wages is commendable, people don’t realize the damage it would do to business owners. Sure, raise the wages and then put people OUT of business, which is just adding more liability for the State when they file for unemployment. With the costs of workers compensation (which is a flawed, brutally idiotic system that always sides with employees regardless of the facts) and liability insurance, I’m not really sure how Democrats think a wage increase of this magnitude would benefit society.


markavelli May 2, 2014 at 7:29 am

How are small businesses supposed to cope with paying higher wages? They will learn to do more with less, they will raise their prices, Or they will pay under the table and subvert the whole taxation process. And most importantly, they will replace you with a machine…it will finally make economic sense. You are simply stirring the pot.

Way to go liberals, thinking of yourself and nothing else as usual.


cat May 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

Putting up the minimum wage is the wrong way to go… it will increase the cost of everything and that includes everything the mimimum wage earner needs to buy… they will spend every penny of the wage increase and will gain nothing. Fact remains minimum wage jobs are just that… they are “kid” jobs … Jobs I did in high school and college for extra cash… They are not and were never to be “head of household jobs.” Before you start a family a reasonable person would work their way up to a better paying job THEN marry and have kids…. This is backwards now.. Sad !!!


John Filthy May 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Really you are arguing for a minimum wage increase. Saying that it is backwards now implies it wasn’t before. Presumably you are talking about the 50s and 60s when the minimum wage was much higher relative to buying power than it is now. The minimum wage jobs pay for less today and the middle class (head of household) jobs you talk about have rapidly been disappearing.

By your logic people should deal cocaine instead of work at McD’s. 3If you have kids to support and you have a choice between working at McD’s for minimum wage or dealing cocaine to rich people for 50 times the money, which would you choose?

If it wasn’t for poor farmers having a dozen kids 200+ years ago many of us would not be here today.


cat May 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm

are you nuts ?? who said anything about dealing cocaine…. I am saying that i worked many minimum wage jobs while in college and high school then I moved on to get a better job and THEN had kids —- The backward thing is these kids have kids and expect to raise them flipping hamburgers… Sorry but that doesn’t work and as I said raising the min.wage will only put prices higher for everyone – including the ones who make the min.wage. By the way I worked for $1.09 / hr. as a waitress plus my tips.. we lived on our tips back then. Yeah I am dating myself but our elected officials these days seem to be only driving this country in the ground. Sending jobs overseas with regulations, etc. More regulations than any small business can handle… Obamacare is the next thing that is going to close small business and put people who work for larger businesses out of work… Lots of good things they could have done for health care but did not. The workers can not continue to pay for those who do not work (and alot of them could) there are way too many of them and not enough of us working people….. And getting worse.


John Filthy May 3, 2014 at 5:55 am

Not everyone has the same opportunities for jobs and school. If you think dealing is nuts you aren’t coming from the same place as some people who are starting from way less. Rick Ross talked about it in an article last year: “Me and my guys that I grew up with, we couldn’t get jobs,” he told The Huffington Post. “We’d have been willing to work at a McDonald’s if they’d have been willing to hire us … It’s the same type of environment right now.”

Jobs go overseas because of greed more than regulations. What are the regulations that have outsourced US call centre jobs to India, and Indian call centre jobs to Vietnam? Sure garment workers jobs go to Bangladesh and manufacturing jobs to China because of lax regulation, but that also results in things like the Savar building collapse killing over a thousand people, and cancer villages in China.


John Filthy May 2, 2014 at 12:02 pm

This isn’t the first time the minimum wage has been raised so how did small businesses cope all the other times it was raised? Most businesses already pay more than the federal minimum wage.

The US has the lowest minimum wage relative to average income of any developed country. Countries with a higher minimum wage like Canada do have higher prices and a thriving underground economy. But that isn’t the only part of the equation.

When the minimum wage gets raised you also get better employees. If it were say $15/hour you would get better trained, more capable employees that can do more work. It would make it much harder for teenagers and college students to get a job though.

Where is the blame for corporations like WalMart who pay so little that their workers qualify for State subsidy programs? Liberals wouldn’t be able to make their points so well if Conservative companies like this weren’t bleeding the system.

People getting replaced with machines has been going on long before there even was a minimum wage. This is never going to happen for waitresses and other workers who are the employees of the small businesses most impacted by a minimum wage increase.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Seattle is considering raising their minimum wage to $15 – over I think 3 years. They call it “democracy” – yeah!


John Filthy May 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

They are already the closest to $15 since Washington has the highest State minimum wage in the US at $9.32. They are also one of four States that has a separate ‘youth training’ minimum wage – $7.81. That balances paying adults a living wage with keeping youth unemployment down. As the highest paying US State they are still lower than every Canadian province. Even though the US has way more money per person than Canada.

Of course this doesn’t even cover the incredibly low ‘tipped’ federal minimum wage in the US – currently $2.13. The lowest rate in Canada for workers who receive gratuities is $8.90 in Quebec. Some people talk about $15/hour like it is unheard of, but Australia already has a minimum wage above $16. France is not far behind.

The numbers that really tell the story are CEO vs worker pay ratios. Where I live there is a progressive company Lee Valley Tools that insists on having a humane CEO to worker pay ratio – they set theirs at 10:1. This rate is more equal than any country’s average. In France it’s 15:1 Canada it’s 20:1 the US is 475:1 and at Walmart… wait for it… 1034:1 !!


Stucky May 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

Instead of a minimum wage increase force a decrease in Federal Reserve money printing. The Federal Reserve has printed $12.6 trillion in the last ten years and 95% of that went to the billionaires. That needs to end.
Productivity gains should make a fixed minimum wage worker better off. Instead that productivity went to Washington DC and Wall Street. I spend a lot of time in DC and the wealth that has poured into that area is astonishing.


tj June 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm

A living minimum wage/ retirement benefits – is in direct conflict with our Ruling Classes’ agenda to funnel ALL wealth into their already too FAT coffers, but too much is never enough for the uber-greedy.

1. They got their stooges in Washington to export USA families jobs en’ mass under the guise of “free trade” (one of many dupes on the gullible American public) – who prefers sound bites to substance. The legislation includes PNTR, NAFTA, etc. Bye, bye middle-class jobs – hello record profits for multi-national corporations, & their own.

2. Allowing 3rd world immigration en’ mass – in a country with so many already out of work – puts further downward pressure on wages for labor – no other civilized country so oppresses their own citizens with such a selfish & shortsighted scheme.

3. Our middle-class was the envy of the world – created by God, Henry Ford & Union workers (who used to understand the value in supporting their own).

The NY Banksters/Robber Barron’s hated Henry Ford for PAYING over DOUBLE the going rate for labor at the time. Crazy? Like a fox …. Mr Ford understood that fairly compensated people could actually afford to buy things …. duh.

So essentials only – how much does it cost to live here?

Don’t like the idea of $13-ish per hour? How about Seattle’s $15.00, or the recent Swiss proposal of apx $25.00? (Yes, the Swiss proposal was defeated …. this time)

Our nations obsession with, & pandering to the ultra-Greedy, ultra-Rich – is becoming our undoing.

Wage parity nations have much happier & more contented populous, that ones with great disparity’s in wealth. Ultimately, that’s good for everyone.




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