Roundtable On Minimum Wage, Bill Fulton and Bud Selig Plaza
MARK SAUER: I am Mark Sauer, and KPBS Roundtable starts now. Joining me today on the Roundtable are my guests, Claire Trageser, David Rolland, and Dean Calbreath. San Diego is one of America's most expensive cities. As in, energy, and water costs all charttoppers here compared to other places. It's not surprising that the city council voted to hike the minimum wage, over the objections of the Republican mayor and the business community. That set up a political battle that is already getting nasty. Claire, start us off by telling us what is in the minimum wage hike that the city council passed. SPEAKER2: If for some reason they do not get enough signatures to overturn it, we just would go from nine dollars an hour to $9.75 an hour at the start of this year, and then rise incrementally to $11.50 an hour until 2015, and also that would include five earned sick days a year for employees. MARK SAUER: As you mentioned, we have a coalition gathering signatures, who is the coalition that does not want the minimum wage hike? SPEAKER2: It's called the San Diego Small Business Coalition. They kicked it off with a group of small business owners. There is also Revolvis Consulting helping them out. Jason Roe is one of the founders of Revolvis. MARK SAUER: He is kind of the face of this movement. SPEAKER2: He is. They are one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in town, at least in the state. They have worked on Kevin Faulconer's mayoral campaign and other Republican mayoral campaigns in the past. SPEAKER3: It is largely driven by the regional Chamber of Commerce as well. MARK SAUER: These folks need to get roughly 34,000 petitions signed September 17, so they have thirty days from the time the council passed it. SPEAKER2: Yep. MARK SAUR: That is what we want to get into in this discussion, because it got nasty fairly early on, with accusations on both sides. There are not just to gatherers going to confront you at the grocery store, some folks will be out there that are burned from the Barrio Logan petition. SPEAKER2: That is what is different, they did a referendum last year to overturn Barrio Logan, and that went pretty much uncontested. A lot of people felt signature gatherers were lying consistently throughout that referendum drive. MARK SAUER: They even took that to court, and lost. SPEAKER2: Now there's a group called Raise Up San Diego, which is organized by the Center on Policy Initiatives, and they are sending people out to stand right across from the signature gatherers saying do not sign their petition to everyone who comes in or out of the grocery store. SPEAKER4: That has actually boosted the cost of the petition drive. Normally a drive like this would be about $300,000. They have banked about $500,000 because they think that the opposition might have an impact on their petition drive. MARK SAUER: Part of the cost them a they pay petition gatherers about two dollars a signature. That will run into some money, 34,000, that does not sound like a lot of signatures. SPEAKER3: They need a lot more, 33,800 or more. SPEAKER2: They are aiming for 50,000, because people who were sign it were not registered voters, or they may sign it twice. SPEAKER3: They have to have eligible voters and valid signatures. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The city council passed this, led by Todd Gloria. He spoke on KPBS and he was concerned about these petition gatherers and what they had to say. Let's hear a clip from him: [AUDIO FILE PLAYING] SPEAKER5: Essentially what you have are people who are wealthy enough to try to purchase the results they could not get through the normal democratic process. The council has taken a particular position, and we are elected by the people, and these folks see an opportunity to pay a couple of hundred thousand dollars to signature gatherers and overturn that results. I hope that won't happen in this case with the minimum wage. We have too many people counting on increase in wages, because they do not make enough to live here. It will be a very sad day if you wealthy individuals could purchase the result they could not get to the democratic process. [END AUDIO FILE] MARK SAUER: Dave, Claire, you have both been reporting on this trying to find out what is going on a grocery stores. What are we learning? Are you seeing any lying, or the blatant self we saw on the Barrio Logan plan? SPEAKER3: I haven't been reporting on it as so much as pining on it. But I did go out looking for gatherers and did not find any. Someone I know been into one at Ralph's in Hillcrest, and that person was telling the truth. It has been a mixed bag. I was one of those people who saw a lot of lying in the Barrio Logan battle. MARK SAUER: That was caught on tape. It was pretty straightforward. SPEAKER3: I thought this was going to be really straightforward, and I underestimated the ability to those what was going on or outright lie about it. People were saying that the city council passed a minimum wage of fifty dollars an hour, which is not true. The signature gatherers are saying this is for a more reasonable minimum wage. Or they were saying sign the petition if you want a minimum wage. They are just turning it around. SPEAKER2: For that, it's interesting to me, because I KPBS we as people their experiences with signature gatherers, and a lot of people said we've seen people out with petitions that they say are to raise the minimum wage. That sounds like potentially people could be lying, but the author thing the moment I was out, I saw people from Raise Up San Diego, with the petition that said we support raising the minimum wage. So I don't know if some of the people reporting that were actually seeing the raise up San Diego people. The anti-petition petition thing seems excessively confusing to me, I don't understand why they are doing that. SPEAKER3: It's absolutely confusing, that is one of the outcomes they are hoping for, took confused people enough so that they throw up their hands and don't sign anything. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It is odd, they have a don't sign campaign asking them to sign something. SPEAKER2: Sign this to say you won't sign the other thing. MARK SAUER: Maybe it is confusing. Who knows. You mentioned Jason Roe is the spoken for the folks who want to get this on the ballot, you spoke to him in the future that you did early this week, he said there is no reason for gatherers to be lying, they have a straightforward good argument. SPEAKER2: Right, he said that they found a video of one guy saying they are going to raise the wages to fifteen dollars an hour, and another video of a guy saying they will double the minimum wage to 50% which does not make any sense, so he said that he found one of those people and they say they fired him, and then he told me there is no reason for anybody to lie to my if we find out they are lying we will fire them, because our argument is the best argument, we just want to put this on the ballot. The person that we saw doing what she was doing, it was pretty convincing, she was getting signatures as we were standing there watching her. She was saying that decide right now, just take the time to educate yourself, sign this, then it will go to the ballot, you're not voting yes or no right now, you're just signing to say we have a chance to vote on it. SPEAKER3: I thought this is how this was going to go, I kind of agree with Jason Roe on that one point, I thought the strongest things going to be, let's slow down, and give everybody a chance to vote on this, which to me brings up an interesting point, which Todd Gloria just touched on in the clip that you played. That is, he says they could not get the desired outcome through the normal democratic process, I think that is a valid point, we have chosen a system in this country of passing laws and that is representative democracy. We vote for the people and send them to the city council, and they do the debate, to other research, get the advice from staff, and all of that, theoretically. That process, we have six members of the city council that are Democrats, and three Republicans. Democrats were able to get policy done, and so now, it's taking only 34,000 people to sign a petition to get to undo that law. Not necessarily to get it pulled, but it will delay it, and this is important, get it delayed until June 2016. MARK SAUER: Let's see what Jason Roe had to say on his argument on why he they think this should not go through. [AUDIO FILE PLAYING] SPEAKER6: For starters, I think it ignores the fact that the state just implemented a 25% increase just a month ago in July. Our debate is not with the value of the minimum wage increase, but the idea that San Diego and Highland by itself would go 44% instead of the 25% statewide. This disadvantages San Diego businesses, drives up costs, and disadvantages workers, because we will have fewer jobs available as businesses contract to deal with this, they will have to cut hours and employees. [END AUDIO FILE] MARK SAUER: Dean, I wanted to ask you about that. The argument is, it will put them at a disadvantage, it will cut employees, rob us of jobs, etc. But minimum wage has been hiked in other parts of the country, and studies have been done on the impact. What have you learned about that? SPEAKER4: The studies that have been done of the places that have done this shows it does not affect inflation, which they complained about. It doesn't really affect unemployment, it does not affect employment levels, of hospitality and restaurant workers, which is the main area where minimum-wage workers are employed. One of the biggest impacts it does have if you are community such as Santa Fe New Mexico, which has the second-highest minimum wage after San Francisco, the city of Santa Fe passed a minimum wage and begin attracting low-wage workers from other places of the city, instead of businesses moving out, was having workers coming in, to the extent that Santa Fe County has now adopted the same minimum wage, because they could not face the competition. MARK SAUER: So it was the opposite impact that we heard. SPEAKER4: It's the same with Alameda County and San Francisco, which have the highest minimum wages. MARK SAUER: So, you got a copy of the script, getting back to what petition gatherers are saying. What is the clear argument on the bullet points? SPEAKER2: I was expecting the exact script, but it's more just day list. At least a third of the bullet points were all to do with unions, saying stop big unions, they almost bankrupted the city before, here they come again, stop it unions, a 34.7% wage hike will harm our local economy. It's interesting, unions do not pay workers minimum wage, so I don't know. MARK SAUER: That's beside the point, if you look at the fact of the minimum wage. SPEAKER3: There using the worst the demand they can find to put in front of this. The Center on Policy Initiatives, which Claire mentioned earlier, it is a left-leaning policy think tank. They are closely aligned ideologically with unions, and that is where they get some of their funding. SPEAKER2: They said they are getting union funding for Raise Up San Diego, and I think at least some of the volunteers are going out saying don't sign their petitions are actually union workers. SPEAKER3: This is not a union led thing, union support higher wages for workers, so it is down there alley. But this is not driven by unions. It's a much water, progressive coalition of people behind this. MARK SAUER: On the other side of the coin, we had an incident in recent days, where the petition gatherers were out there with their clipboards gathering petitions, and they get two dollars per signature, they have a stake in it. There was an alleged incident where a clipboard was stolen, signatures were taken, what happened with that? There was not a police report, and then it turned out there was a police report. SPEAKER2: It was last Friday, a week ago, they said a guy was at bonds in Claremont, he turned his head for a second, and someone came up and stole his clipboard that was filled with 130 signatures or something like that. MARK SAUER: That's a few hundred dollars for him. SPEAKER2: It's $260 stolen. I tried to check up on it and see if the police report was filed. They said it was, at first the police said they could not verify that the report had been filed, then the day after my story was filed, they said that the person's name was entered wrong, and yes, we have a police report for $244 stolen. MARK SAUER: So it has gotten nasty in this first week. You have allegations and counter allegations and actions here. One last note before we shift gears on this topic. Remind us again, what happens, if they get the 34,000 signatures and they are all valid, they will get it onto an election ballot. SPEAKER2: The city council could call a special election if they want to have this, but there is no reason they would do that, because the city council wants this passed. A special election will favor Republicans, so they will probably defeat it. It will go until June 2016, so even though waste were supposed to rise this January, it's not going to happen. SPEAKER3: They will be delaying it for a year and a half. MARK SAUER: The news that Bill Fulton step down this week as the city planning director had all but a few insiders saying Bill who? Dean, you profiled this smart growth guru, and we were lucky in the short time to have this guy, according to a lot of people. SPEAKER4: We were very lucky, he's a nationally known well-respected proponent in smart growth of the city, livable, walkable, bike friendly neighborhoods that San Diego has been supporting, that Mayor Filner was a strong proponent of, and Bob Filner brought him him. Mayor Faulconer has also been a fairly strong supporter. MARK SAUER: Kind of the anti-sprawl idea. SPEAKER4: You have businesses, shops, services, and other things near where people live, so you don't have to get into a car. MARK SAUER: We can simply go down a few blocks and get these spots. SPEAKER4: Exactly. So we've heard people change their character. You have three or four story buildings lining a downtown street. SPEAKER3: Downtown Claremont. SPEAKER4: Exactly. MARK SAUER: But it has happened, to some degree. SPEAKER4: It has, and it is probably something that needs to happen, Fulton would argue it also matches what the demographics want. The millennial generation doesn't want to drive everywhere, as well as the aging baby boomers will not be able to drive everywhere. MARK SAUER: It was said by some that Jerry Sanders we can this department. SPEAKER4: He gutted it during his demonstration. He disbanded it and merged its functions with the permitting office, which strongly weakened it. Many would argue that Bob Filner's smartest move, and he made plenty of dumb moves, and smartest move was probably to revitalize the organization and bring in this nationally respected figure. MARK SAUER: What happens when Bob Filner went out? Bill Fulton kind of lost his sponsor, did he not? SPEAKER3: He kind of did, but I think there was so much momentum behind the idea of will Fulton and his ideas for what San Diego needed to do to grow. It would've been a bad PR move if Mayor Faulconer decided he is not my guy, he was the other guy's guy, and he is going to be out. I think there was a lot of support for what Bill Fulton was all about, but when it came down to the nitty-gritty of selling those ideas, to these neighborhoods, that became tricky. You have some people who might be progressive and lean towards somebody like Bob Filner, but like their neighborhoods the way they are. I think Bill Fulton, I haven't talked about this with him personally, but maybe he was surprised by the challenge. I think he was up to the challenge, he is a politically savvy guy, and I think he's up for the fight. I thought maybe he was going to stick it out here as long as Mayor Faulconer was behind him. MARK SAUER: In the few seconds we have left, he left for greener pastures in Houston. Are we going to see the dismantling of this department, or will we get another Fulton? SPEAKER4: I don't think so, we might see some tinkering around the edges. Falconer and Fulton completely disagree about it Barrio Logan, for instance, but on the other hand Faulconer has supported this idea, Faulconer and Fulton met yesterday and had a congenial conversation about the future. David Graham, Fulton's boss at City Hall, he says the intend to go in the same direction. I don't think there will be a major change, maybe minor changes around the edges. SPEAKER2: It depends on who they hire. SPEAKER4: They are starting a search on Tuesday, after the holiday. They say they're looking for same kind of guy, with a good reputation. MARK SAUER: We will see who they come up with. Our final segment today, the owners of the San Diego Padres have made curious move taking over, but one that they made this week was a real hit scratcher for many fans. The Padres honored retiring baseball commissioner Bud Selig by naming a very visible Plaza at Petco Park in his honor. This is right off of Tony Gwynn drive, where most people come in. It's suddenly going to be Bud Selig Plaza. Tell us why he sometimes gets booed at All-Star games, or did before he stepped down. SPEAKER3: Well, he was commissioner of baseball for twenty-two years. You're not the head of something that big without ruffling feathers and making moves that people do not like. MARK SAUER: And we saw the steroids era that happened under his watch, we lost the World Series in the playoffs one year, and that happened to be the year in San Diego where Tony Gwynn had a shot of hitting 400. SPEAKER3: That was 1994. MARK SAUER: And that was a real sad thing for Padres fans, because that would've been a historical thing to see, our late Tony Gwynn hit 400. Bud is not the most popular guy here. SPEAKER3: It's just weird, and it's par for the course for the Padres these days. A lot of head scratching moves, and not a lot of excitement for the Padres in the city, that I can discern. The organization is struggling right now, they have good young players, but they can't seem to get any footing with the fans, and this one is just bizarre. Bud Selig really has no relationship to San Diego at all. SPEAKER2: Has anyone said why this decision could possibly have been made? MARK SAUER: There has been some situation. They want to get the All-Star game here, they have Petco Park that is probably going to get an All-Star game. It's a wonderful Park, and a wonderful facility for that. They said he was instrumental in getting the ownership and lighting up a deal, but that's another head scratcher, because the previous owners here give it to him on a credit card with a wink and a nod, because they did not have enough money, and the other owners ultimately would not let Jeff Moorehead by the team. SPEAKER3: They ultimately pulled the rug out from under them. Bud Selig is the kind of guy that wants unanimity in votes on ownership changes in that kind of thing, and there was a mutiny over the recent ownership change. MARK SAUER: And you mentioned how curious this move is, the current owners have some baseball blood, there from the doctors organization. We expected great things from them, but it has not worked out so well yet. SPEAKER3: You have to spend money to make money coming up to spend money to put a team on the field and, so far, they have been unable to do that. MARK SAUER: They raised payroll some this year, but mediocre in the standings, and not too much excitement here. SPEAKER3: There in the division with the doctors and the Giants, who are comparatively financial powerhouses, especially the Dodgers, they can put $225 million on the field at any given time. MARK SAUER: They announced this move to name this very visible Plaza after Bud Selig. It really lit up on social media, twitter, and some of these folks, the hashtag was #BSPlaza. BS for Bud Selig, of course. Fans were not sitting still for this one. Finally they had something to root about, or root against here. SPEAKER4: Rooting against has become a Padres Hallmark these days. SPEAKER3: I'm not sure they thought this through before they made this decision. SPEAKER2: Although this is the most discussion I have heard about the Padres. MARK SAUER: That's a good point. They have been darn quiet all summer, and now they got something now. SPEAKER2: They've got something to pay attention to. MARK SAUER: Can they backtrack on this somehow? The four of us can sit and think of other people, Ray Kroc for example, who kept the team to moving to Washington, they were packed up and ready to go. He put the money down. Joan Kroc, his widow, Steve Garvey, some other big names here, Trevor Hoffman, Tony Gwynn of course has a statue and a street there, but you think the late great Jerry Coleman. There are so many other folks you could name this Plaza for. SPEAKER3: Did your question, can they backtrack? I guess, unless they signed a contract they were legally bound to honor, but it would sure be embarrassing to say oh gosh, we just did not think that through, I'm sure a lot of fans would like them to go ahead and admit they did something wrong. SPEAKER4: That could be a way of guaranteeing we don't get an All-Star game. MARK SAUER: Yeah, that's true. All right, we will see what happens here and what they do going forward. That wraps up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I would like to thank my guests. Thank you for joining us today on the Roundtable. END
Minimum Wage, Maximum Heat
There is a battle of sorts being waged over signatures of voters for a proposed referendum on San Diego's new minimum-wage rates.
Supporters of the city’s new ordinance say signature-gatherers for the referendum to overturn it are lying to voters. They say many of the petitioners at local supermarkets exaggerate the increase and the timeline, fabricate consequences, and even say their petitions favor raising the minimum wage.
Referendum backers, on the other hand, say their petitioners are being verbally and physically harassed and intimidated and have had their petitions stolen.
Paid signature gatherers for the campaign, run by Revolvis, a San Diego consulting firm which handles Republican office-seekers, have 30 days to collect 34,000 valid signatures.
This proposed referendum arrives just months after the successful referendum to overturn city council approval of a years-in-the-making community plan for Barrio Logan. Signature-gatherers for that referendum were also accused of lying to get signatures.
Some business interests, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, favored both. If the signature campaign is successful, the minimum wage increase (to $9.75 in January 2015; $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017) would be on hold until after the June 2016 election.
City Council president Todd Gloria, who was himself lied to by a minimum-wage petitioner, has called the process of putting decisions of elected representatives to a public vote “a perversion of democracy.”
Bill Fulton Leaves San Diego Behind
This is Bill Fulton’s last week as city planning director. Fulton, not exactly a household name in San Diego, is an acknowledged leader in innovative smart growth planning. His book, “Guide to California planning,” is a bible for urban-planning students.
Fulton was hired in July 2013, by Mayor Bob Filner, just before the sexual harassment storm broke. Filner resigned that August.
Fulton had some challenges in his short tenure. He stood staunchly behind the City Planning Department’s development plan for Barrio Logan, approved by the City Council in September but then overturned by voters the following June. His department’s plans to increase density around Morena Boulevard on the new light-rail line were scuttled by a community revolt.
Faulconer removed funding from Fulton's Civic Innovation Lab and fired its employees. And the mayor named David Graham, chief-of-staff for councilman Mark Kersey and former land-use consultant for Jerry Sanders, as Fulton’s boss.
Although he described the city as "land-poor," Fulton saw opportunity for development downtown as "infill" or along transportation corridors. He said he believed that “compact villages" were the key to the future, not big houses spread out in the suburbs.
Fulton is going to Rice University in Houston.
Bud Selig Plaza?
The San Diego Padres have re-named Palm Court Plaza after outgoing Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Selig is the man who expanded the playoffs, presided over the steroid era and, for good measure, the strike year where he ended the season early with Tony Gwynn batting .394 on his way to .400.
He also allowed Jeff Moorad to buy the Padres from John Moores on layaway with non-existent money.
The Twitterverse, as chronicled by the U-T's Matt Hall, went nuts.