Tag Archive for Proposition A (San Diego County November 2010)

Mystical Ratios and Other Strange Excuses: San Diego’s Top Union Boss Lorena Gonzalez Explains Why San Diego Voters Approved Propositions A and B

A few people were incredulous last week when they heard the election night claims of Lorena Gonzalez – the Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Central Labor Council – that “corporate interests” and “huge corporations” outspent unions in a ratio of 7 to 1 in the campaign over the Fair and Open Competition ballot measure (Proposition A) in the City of San Diego. (Proposition A won with 58% of the vote on June 5, 2012.)

One person said to me, “I read your blog showing how unions spent $1.2 million against Proposition A. What is she talking about? Did the Yes on A campaign really raise more than $7 million?”

No. As shown here in the campaign finance reports of the City of San Diego Ethics Commission, unions and union-managed organizations spent more against Proposition A ($1,325,231.20) than “corporate interests” spent in support of Proposition A ($934,037.81), in a ratio of almost 3 to 2. Supporters of Prop A did not even raise $1 million for a city-wide campaign in a city with 1.3 million people. Gonzalez’s 7 to 1 ratio for spending on Proposition A could only be met with $8.2 million in additional imaginary money to the Yes on A campaign or with some sort of incredible distortion of data on campaign finance reports.

Knowing her three degrees earned from highly prestigious colleges indicate a truly superior intelligence, I concluded that Gonzalez must have used some sort of exotic algorithm to calculate the 7 to 1 ratio. I tried to figure it out, but failed. I did determine that even if she actually meant campaign spending for Proposition A combined with Proposition B (city employee pension reform), the claim is false. Add both together, and the so-called “corporate interests” outspent unions in a little more than a 3:2 ratio.

Why would someone with such prominence in a local community let out such a brazen lie? Opinions are often in the eyes of the beholder, but she presents that claim as a fact, which people can check for truthfulness and accuracy. Even more perplexing, she said it repeatedly.

A quick perusal of Gonzalez’s recent Twitter posts reveals her frequent citation of the 7 to 1 business to union campaign expenditure ratio. For example, on May 31 she responded to a taunt about her lost race for San Diego City Council with this line: “When I was outspent 7-1, everybody predicted Faulconer and I came within hundreds? Yep, I remember that!” And on May 19, she criticized the content of a KUSI Channel 10 news story with the comment “Doesn’t fit their narrative if they say business outspends labor 7 to 1.” (She was citing this specific ratio even before the campaigns for and against Proposition A submitted their later expenditure reports to the city.)

Is it possible that Gonzalez has stumbled on some sort of mystic power in the 7:1 ratio that will lead “working people” to start voting in support of the union tax-and-spend political agenda?

To examine Gonzalez’s full range of excuses after San Diego voters approved Proposition A on June 5, I looked at the election night news coverage in San Diego. Here are her standard talking points:

  1. These are “very complicated legal issues” and the voters don’t understand what they’re supporting. (Translation: voters aren’t educated enough to know what’s good for them.)
  2. Voters were distracted with so many races on the ballot. (Translation: the unruliness of democracy confuses people into voting against their interests.)
  3. We were outspent badly by huge corporations. (Translation: democracy is unfair because corporations are able to spend money in political campaigns.)
  4. We didn’t really try to win. (Translation: our political system is so fundamentally controlled by corporate interests that participation is useless, and I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)
  5. We were victims of right-wing media bias. (Translation: media in a democracy should be required to present the valid position of working people. All coverage should be like Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio.)
  6. The enacted policies are meaningless. (Translation: I lied earlier to the union volunteers who helped with the campaign and lied even earlier to the union workers whose money was used – without their consent – for campaign advertising and contracts for political consultants.)

For example, below is an election night video interview on local TV news for Channel 7 KNSD (NBC) in which Gonzalez rolls out all of her standard talking points. She claims that “we didn’t invest in those propositions in the same way as our opponents” and that “huge corporations” outspent the unions 7 to 1. She repeats the 7 to 1 lie a second time for those who didn’t hear it the first time.

 


 
 
Gonzalez also blames the mainstream media, even as she tries to use it. “We live in a city where we have one newspaper” with an agenda to defeat unions, working people, and Democrats. She also says San Diego has local TV stations that are anti-worker. (She has to backtrack on that statement a little in her own self-interest when she realizes she is being interviewed for local TV news, although she must be fuming after the reporter starts the interview by introducing her as “the county’s labor boss.”)

I’ll predict “corporate media bias” will be a major theme of unions in San Diego; in fact, the New York Times is helping by now being worried about it: see “Newspaper as Business Pulpit” – June 10, 2012. I would suggest that the unions establish their own competing daily newspaper targeted at “working people” in San Diego, but instead they’ll probably use the government to force ownership or content changes at the Union-Tribune. 

Here are some other Lorena Gonzalez quotes from the web and print media following the June 5 election. Remember, according to Gonzalez, all of these media entities hate working people:

Early results show voters support the idea of the City of San Diego being prohibited from using union-friendly Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)… “With so much noise going on in this election, I’m not surprised,” said Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. When asked her opinion on the returns for both Prop A and Prop B, Gonzalez said it’s tough for the workers’ voice to be heard. She said San Diegans are too smart to support Prop A but said the labor stance was outspent 7 to 1 by corporate interests. “When we need to, we’ll exercise our legal options,” Gonzalez said.

Source: Prop. A Passage Not Surprising to Labor – Channel 7 KNSD (ABC). (By the way, Lorena Gonzalez is one of the most relentless sources of political noise in San Diego, so maybe she’s subconsciously blaming herself.)

Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, told City News Service that she expects Proposition B to be overturned by the courts, and for San Diegans to repeal Proposition A in the next couple of years, once its costs become clear. “There’s a third branch of government for a reason,” Gonzalez said, referring to the court system.

Source: San Diego Voters Approve Propositions A, B – Channel 10 KGTV (ABC) – June 6, 2012; Absentee Voters Favor San Diego Initiatives Channel 5 KSWB (FOX); and Election 2012: San Diegans Favor Propositions – Channel 8 KFMB News (CBS).

Here, she decides to shift the focus from the proposition victories and instead start the general election campaign by trying to diminish the first-place showing of Councilman Carl DeMaio in the hotly-contested primary race for San Diego mayor, which had four legitimate contenders (three Republicans and a Democrat):

However, labor leader Lorena Gonzalez said the outcome of Proposition B was not unexpected considering how heavily opponents were outspent…Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella group that represents 133 unions, said she doubts voters realized that Proposition A could keep millions of dollars of state funds from the city. Gonzalez said the strongest message she was taking away from San Diego voters was the number who voted against mayoral front-runner Carl DeMaio. “Sixty eight percent basically told Carl DeMaio they are not in for his politics,” she said. “I think that’s great. Clearly the only person who really billed himself as anti-worker was Carl DeMaio and 68 percent of the people said no to Carl DeMaio.”

Source: Labor, GOP Draw Different Conclusions from Vote: Proposition A, B Victories Called “Taxpayer Revolution” – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Here, she strangely switches focus to the California Republican Party, perhaps indicating a subconscious desire to flee San Diego and return to the comforting security of the California State Capitol, where most people are smart enough to know that free enterprise is nonsense.

Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, countered by saying Republicans have sided with corporate interests over working people, leading to the possibility of the statewide GOP going the “way of the dodo bird.” She said DeMaio and downtown lobbyists that helped fund his mayoral campaign and Propositions A and B have used pensions and project-labor agreements as straw men they’d prefer to fight against because they make for good sound bites, no matter how inaccurate. “Measures like these don’t solve problems, they just create more,” she said…“Just as these propositions will not solve the financial problems of our city government, they do nothing to put more money back in the pockets of hardworking San Diegans or put the unemployed back to work,” she said. “We will continue to put our efforts to creating more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all San Diegans — union and nonunion — because that is what matters to us, not these cheap political games.”

Source: GOP Basks in the Election Afterglow – San Diego Union-Tribune – June 6, 2012

Note: it does not look like Gonzalez even bothered to comment about the passage of Proposition D – a charter for the city of El Cajon that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and a provision allowing the city to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for purely municipal projects.


Postscript: Lorena Gonzalez was uncharacteristically silent on record after voters approved Proposition G in Chula Vista, Proposition K in Oceanside, and Proposition A in San Diego County in 2010. I did find ONE comment from Gonzalez explaining voter approval of Proposition G and Proposition K: in this case, she blamed the people again, this time by complaining about people not voting.

FUDGE: And you’re disappointed, I assume, with Proposition G in Chula Vista and Proposition K in Oceanside on the project labor agreements.

GONZALEZ: Well, especially Chula Vista, you know, we spent a lot of time down there but the turnout just – I’ve never quite seen anything like it. I think when the final numbers come in, we’ll see about, maybe 25% and in a city that is predominantly Latino and predominantly Democrat, it was – the electorate yesterday was not. It was mainly an absentee turnout and mainly a Republican turnout and, again, when people show up at the polls, when we have high turnout like we do in presidential years or in gubernatorial years when there’s a runoff, then workers win. But when people don’t come out, we can’t win.

Source: Who Won and Who Lost In Tuesday’s Primary Election – KPBS – Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Voters of San Diego (Eighth Most Populous City in U.S.) Approve Fair and Open Competition Ordinance with 58 Percent of the Vote to Prohibit Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements

The people of California continue to demonstrate their firm support for fair and open bid competition and the best quality work at the best price for taxpayer-funded construction. On June 5, 2012, 58% of voters in the City of San Diego approved Proposition A, a Fair and Open Competition ordinance prohibiting the city from requiring contractors to enter into Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with unions. San Diego is the eighth most populous city in the country.

Also, in the City of El Cajon (in San Diego County), 57% of voters approved Proposition D, a charter stating in Section 400 (Purchasing and Contracts) that “The City will promote fair and open competition for all City construction projects so that all contractors and workers, whether union or non-union, are treated equally in the bidding and awarding of City construction contracts.” See this June 5, 2012 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune: Proposition D Passes in El Cajon.

A Quest for Fair and Open Competition Policies in San Diego County’s Ten Most Populous Cities

Rank

City

Population (2010)

Status

1

San Diego

1,302,000

58% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition ordinance as Proposition A on June 5, 2012.

2

Chula Vista

244,000

56% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition ordinance as Proposition G on June 8, 2010.

3

Oceanside

183,000

54% of voters approved a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision as Proposition K on June 8, 2010.

4

Escondido

144,000

Voters will approve a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

5

Carlsbad

105,000

No action to date.

6

El Cajon

99,000

57% of voters approved a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision as Proposition D on June 5, 2012.

7

Vista

94,000

No action to date.

8

San Marcos

84,000

9

Encinitas

60,000

10

National City

79,000

BONUS 

San Diego County

3,095,000

76% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition charter amendment as Proposition A on November 2, 2010.

Unions Use Power Over California Legislature to Suppress Local Government Contracting Authority and Push for Project Labor Agreements

On April 12, the California State Assembly approved Senate Bill 829, a union-backed proposal to exert additional pressure on voters and local elected officials to abandon any policies or policy aspirations to prohibit their local governments from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with construction trade unions.

Political party affiliation determined the 50-23 vote (with seven legislators not voting): Democrats supported it; Republicans opposed it.

Senate Bill 829 is the latest move of California unions in their quest to stop ambitious local grassroots movements to protect fair and open bidding competition on taxpayer-funded construction. Union leaders recognize there are still a few political officials and business leaders in California who haven’t surrendered or acquiesced to the political power of the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. Unions are using their firm grip on the California State Legislature to derail this movement before it spreads out of their control throughout the state.

Round One: The First State Government Attack on Behalf of Unions to Stifle Local Control

In the chaotic and emotional waning days of the 2011 legislative session, the California State Assembly Speaker – John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) – and the leader of the California State Senate – Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – gutted and amended Senate Bill 922, a bill originally introduced by another legislator about tuberculosis screening. As the new authors of the hijacked bill, these legislative leaders turned it into a high-priority union-backed bill meant to stop the proactive efforts of voters and local elected officials to blunt union interference in the competitive bidding process.

Despite aggressive opposition from construction associations, taxpayer groups, local elected officials, and local government organizations such as the California State Association of Counties (see opposition statement here) and the League of California Cities (see opposition statement here), Senate Bill 922 whipped through the Assembly and Senate on strict party-line votes – Democrats in support; Republicans in opposition. Claiming the bill “seems fair to me – even democratic,” Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law.

Senate Bill 922 (now Public Contract Code Section 2500) prohibits California’s 58 counties from enacting charter provisions or ordinances that forbid counties from entering into contracts that require construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) with unions. The bill also prohibited California’s 362 “general law” cities from enacting such ordinances, because general law cities must submit to the authority of the state government for their municipal contracting policies.

But the legislature could not use Senate Bill 922 to directly undermine the local contracting authority of California’s 120 charter cities that exercise “home rule” with their own local charters. Charters are essentially mini-constitutions that allow city governments to supersede state authority over purely municipal affairs.

Instead of using a stick, the legislature had to withhold a tasty carrot from these charter cities. To discourage them from using their constitutionally-granted local authority over municipal contracting as a basis for prohibiting Project Labor Agreements, Senate Bill 922 creates a financial disincentive by cutting off state funding for construction projects in charter cities that enact charter amendments or ordinances prohibiting contracts that mandate contractors to sign Project Labor Agreements.

And charter cities that already have these policies will NOT be exempted with a “grandfather” clause. In the three charter cities (Fresno, Chula Vista, and Oceanside) where voters or city councils had already enacted policies prohibiting city contracts that mandate Project Labor Agreements, the city councils or voters would need to repeal the policies by January 1, 2015 or lose state funding for future construction projects.

See “Brown Tries to Stop Ban on PLAs: Signs Law Supporting Union Contracts” – FOX News Channel – October 7, 2011

Senate Bill 922 Was Somewhat Effective in Stopping Policies to Guarantee Fair and Open Competition

When it become law, Senate Bill 922 had an immediate impact on local policy initiatives to ensure fair and open bid competition for government construction contracts.

The new law nullified a Fair and Open Competition charter provision approved in November 2010 by 76% of San Diego County voters – a provision that was previously established as an ordinance through a 5-0 vote of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in March 2010. It also nullified a Fair and Open Competition ordinance approved on a 5-0 vote of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in November 2009 and a Fair and Open Competition ordinance approved on a 5-0 vote of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in July 2011.

Plans under the “20 in 2010” and “21 in 2011” strategies of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California for more county Fair and Open Competition ordinances were abandoned. Under my direction as project manager, the executive committee for the “Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento” campaign abandoned its signature collection from Sacramento County voters on petitions to place a charter amendment on the ballot in 2012 so voters could prohibit their county government from entering into Project Labor Agreements. Senate Bill 922 had made the effort moot.

With its allies in the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction and the Western Electrical Contractors Association (WECA), ABC of California and its affiliated chapters had also been lobbying for Fair and Open Competition ordinances at a dozen additional counties with significant populations and at several other local governments. We had also been developing strategies for voters to approve Fair and Open Competition ballot measures for three specific Northern California local governments where unions controlled a majority of the elected officials.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California had reason to gloat about undermining these efforts. But soon it was obvious that the unions had not hurt the charter cities hard enough.

Round Two: Unions Need the California Legislature and Governor Brown to Enact Yet Another Law

In December 2011, the “Fair and Open Competition – Sacramento” campaign, under my direction as project manager, submitted nine boxes of petitions signed by voters to place a charter amendment on the ballot in 2012 so voters in the City of Sacramento could prohibit their city government from entering into contracts that mandated Project Labor Agreements. Unions and their political allies got a break when the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters subsequently determined that our signature validity rate was too poor to qualify the Fair and Open Competition charter amendment for the ballot. An ambitious plan to protect the Merit Shop philosophy went awry, and the California State Building and Construction Trades Council had reason to gloat again, this time claiming it was “nothing short of a complete disaster for the ABC” and “a completely disastrous outcome for their enemies at ABC.”

Not all was lost for the beleaguered advocates of economic freedom, even as my seven-year tenure as ABC of California’s State Government Affairs Director came to an end. Voters qualified a ballot measure (Proposition A) for the June 2012 ballot that would prohibit the City of San Diego from entering into contracts that required construction companies to sign Project Labor Agreements. It was the first initiative qualified by City of San Diego voters to appear on the city ballot since 1998.

The city councils of Escondido, El Cajon, and Costa Mesa proceeded with proposed charters that would allow voters to ensure fair and open competition for city construction contracts. Californians obviously still seek the best quality construction at the best price: an unacceptable option for union leaders, whose mission is always to obtain a union monopoly on construction.

The Democrat majority in the legislature needed to do something for the unions, and fast!

On February 23, State Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) amended Senate Bill 829 in a new attempt to eliminate any possible ambiguity concerning the financial punishment of charter cities where voters or elected officials dare to prohibit city contracts from including mandates for construction companies to sign a Project Labor Agreement with unions. Perhaps not since consideration of Assembly Bill 60 (placing the eight-hour day in statute) in 1999 has the stated motivation for a bill been so brazen in its attack on specific business groups. Here’s an excerpt from the March 12, 2012 bill analysis for the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee:

Purpose of this bill. According to the author, “This bill is necessary because anti-union groups/associations continue their campaign to eliminate the option for local governments to utilize PLAs…These are mainly political attacks because PLAs are negotiated on a project-by-project or funding source (i.e., bond) basis and PLAs are not mandated under any state laws. Anti-PLA/union lobbyists, mainly the Associated Builders and Contractors, pushed bans in a few counties (Stanislaus, Orange, San Diego) and Charter Cities (Chula Vista and Oceanside) based on intense lobbying and campaigns waged by non-union contractor organizations that voluntarily choose not to bid on projects governed by a PLA.

The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California is thrilled to see this bill sailing through the legislature despite resistance again from a coalition of construction associations, taxpayer groups, local elected officials, and local government organizations similar to the one that opposed Senate Bill 922 in 2011. Nevertheless, opposition to the bill continues. Here is the written statement of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) on the Assembly floor in opposition to Senate Bill 829:

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove Blasts Unconstitutional Attempt to Limit Local Control – April 12, 2012

Here is the video of her floor statement:

Shannon Grove Blasts SB 829 as Unconstitutional Attempt to Limit Local Control – April 12, 2012