Roundtable: ‘Convadium’ Conundrum, Cal-OSHA Fines SD Companies, Bernie Visits
Friday, March 25, 2016
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A new word has entered San Diego's vocabulary: "convadium." It's a nifty way of referring to the proposed combination of a Chargers football stadium and an expanded convention center in downtown. The Chargers are expected to take their case for building this hybrid to San Diego voters in November.
The Chargers have not officially released any proposed ballot measure, but details have found their way into the media. Hotel room taxes would increase from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, making San Diego’s hotel tax-rate among the highest in the U.S.
Revenue from the tax would help build the $1.8 billion convadium, making much of the cost fall — as some have pointed out — on fans of visiting teams. The Chargers and the NFL would pick up the rest of the tab.
The Chargers had assumed the initiative would require a two-thirds majority. But last week a state appellate court ruled that tax hikes by initiative only need a simple majority.
The Chargers’ measure may compete on the November ballot with a “citizen” initiative by attorney Corey Briggs and former San Diego City Council Member Donna Frye. They tout this measure as a way to get a Chargers stadium built either downtown or in Mission Valley without public funds.
In addition to increasing the tourism tax from 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent for hotels with more than 30 rooms, the initiative forbids contiguous expansion of the convention center on the waterfront and eliminates the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, among other provisions.
Cal-OSHA cracks down on San Diego firms, sort of
Last year, Cal-OSHA, the state agency charged with oversight of the health and safety of workers, fined San Diego Gas & Electric $70,000 when a worker broke eight ribs. The agency determined the accident was caused by a “willful,” or intentionally committed, violation by the employer. It's the largest amount the agency can issue for one violation, including fatalities. When the employer challenges the fine, violations are routinely settled for significantly less (an average of 53 percent) than the original fine.
California employers, including nine in San Diego County, were fined a total of $5.6 million in 2015. Most of these fines are being contested. Statewide, ExxonMobil received the most fines, totaling $566,600 for 19 citations, including 12 “serious” and six “willful” for an explosion in Torrance in which four workers were injured. Critics say the fines amount to pocket change for some corporations
California has 19 million workers, including 7 million Latinos. Cal-OSHA has been understaffed for years. It employs 195 field enforcement officers, and as of December 2015, only 22 of them speak Spanish.
San Diegans rally for Sanders
Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of some 10,000 San Diegans on Tuesday.
He gave his campaign themes a workout, lashing out at the billionaire class, Wall Street, big pharma, the Walton family, Republican governors, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
He shouted out to young people, disabled veterans, senior citizens, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, women, the LGBT community, unauthorized immigrants and the poor.
It is unusual to have a presidential candidate visit California in March, because the state's June primary falls late in the lengthy election cycle. Often the candidates for both parties have been chosen by then.
Maybe not this time, as Sanders noted in his speech.
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