Surely SB 7 confirmed the assertion of former Murrieta City Councilmember Doug McAllister, in his February 2013 argument for city charters as the best way to improve the lives of citizens, that “the Left believes the power to reach that goal radiates from top to bottom, while the Right reverses that flow.” Construction union leaders and lobbyists at the state and local levels of California government have been intent on derailing the movement for cities to use charters in order to free themselves from the costly mandates imposed by the state legislature and the governor.
Below are more than 150 news articles and opinion pieces from 2013 revealing the nature of the battle over local control and state-mandated prevailing wage. The year starts with a city adopting its own prevailing wage policy, city councils in several general law cities deliberating over charter language to propose to voters in 2014, and three powerful anecdotes showing the practical implications of state prevailing wage mandates: a planned private hotel stopped after the state determined it was a “public work” subject to prevailing wage, a bill introduced to end outrageously high state-mandated wage rates for janitorial work, and a state enforcement action revealing that prevailing wage increased the cost of a private hotel by more than $8 million.
Then the unions strike back, with the 5-4 votes of the San Diego City Council during the summer to enact a high-profile ordinance backed by disgraced Mayor Bob Filner to impose costly state-mandated prevailing wage on city projects. The ordinance ended 25 years of city control over its prevailing wage policies for city contracts. At the same time, union-backed Senate Bill 7 advanced through the California State Legislature despite significant opposition. Governor Brown signed SB 7 on October 13, even as the charter commission for the City of Costa Mesa was developing another charter and the Mountain View City Council imposed state prevailing wage mandates on private affordable housing developments receiving city financial assistance. Union lobbyists are now moving aggressively to suppress the uprising.
News and Opinion Articles on California Charter Cities, State-Mandated Prevailing Wage, and Senate Bill 7 in 2013
County Offers $200,000 Tax Rebate to Attract $12 Million Business Expansion – Bakersfield Californian – February 24, 2013 (States that “Kern County has not extended an economic incentive package to a prospective employer in about 10 years. Sometimes what stands in the way of making such offers, she said, is California’s requirement that building projects supported by public money pay construction workers prevailing wages.”)
City of Stockton should listen to their Development Oversight Committee’s Recommendation – ABC NorCal Blog (Northern California Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors) – March 28, 2013 (Recommendation was that “the City Council give direction to City staff and the Commission, as to whether or not they should continue working on the Prevailing Wage Exemption, so that the City Can Declare Itself Exempt from Prevailing Wage Laws on Local Projects.”)
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:
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.)
Voters were distracted with so many races on the ballot. (Translation: the unruliness of democracy confuses people into voting against their interests.)
We were outspent badly by huge corporations. (Translation: democracy is unfair because corporations are able to spend money in political campaigns.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
California’s primary election night was overshadowed by the support from Wisconsin voters for state elected officials who implemented a modest reform of collective bargaining for public employees. But here is an exclusive report on how the June 5, 2012 election also brought good results for advocates of fiscal responsibility and economic and personal freedom in California.
Some might say that voters are being hoodwinked by FOX News, conservative talk radio, and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. To me, it’s clear that a majority of Californians do not see tax increases, more government spending, and expanded government programs as the solution to the state’s economic struggles.
SAN DIEGO REGION
Similar to what’s taking place in numerous states throughout the country, voters in the San Diego region are actively responding to a challenging economy by calling for smaller and more efficient government. I will elaborate in a future post about the ten years of behind-the-scenes tedious work that led to this development in San Diego County, but for now I’ll outline the good news.
I’ve already posted on the easy 58% victory in the City of San Diego for Proposition A, which enacts a Fair and Open Competition ordinance prohibiting the city from requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on taxpayer-funded construction. I also reported already on the 57% victory in the City of El Cajon for Proposition D, a new charter that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and also gives the city authority to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for city projects. (Boy, unions hate it when local governments take power away from the state!)
There will be a heated campaign up to November 5 for San Diego Mayor. Advocate of economic freedom (and San Diego City Councilman) Carl DeMaio will face leftist Congressman Bob Filner. This election will feature a passionate debate over the benefits of capitalism versus socialism! If DeMaio is elected as Mayor, there will be a dramatic change in political culture in the City of San Diego. I will write more about DeMaio in a future post.
(See Filner’s letter here telling the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce to oppose Proposition G in part because it would be a “fool’s errand” to seek federal funding for the city if Proposition G passed. It did pass, and somehow the federal money continues to be piped in, as shown by evidence of continued federal grants to the city’s Capital Improvement Program here.)
Also, Councilman DeMaio’s Proposition B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Diego won with 66% of the vote. And this was not the only successful urban public employee pension reform measure to win voter approval in California on June 5: Mayor Chuck Reed’sMeasure B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Jose (a much more liberal city than San Diego) passed with 70% of the vote. Apparently Californians are a lot like people in Wisconsin: they understand that future economic growth and job creation cannot be anchored on excessive government payouts obtained by public employee unions through politically-manipulated collective bargaining.
Also in the City of San Diego, Scott Sherman won a city council seat. He supports economic freedom and fiscal responsibility. Ray Ellis – also an advocate of economic freedom – will face Sherri Lightner in November for another city council seat.
Even in much more liberal Northern California, there was good news beyond the win for public employee pension reform in the City of San Jose.
In Placer County, construction unions flushed $30,000 down the toilet in funding 92% of the campaign of Pam Tobin, who challenged incumbent Kirk Uhler for a seat on the Placer County Board of Supervisors but lost, 60% to 40%. I was at the Uhler election night victory party in Granite Bay and was pleased to see the result. See my exclusive investigative report revealing and analyzing the union sources of Tobin’s campaign contributions here.
But Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery won re-election. She voted in 2010 against the currently-in-effect Fair and Open Competition policy banning Project Labor Agreements on county construction projects.
Elsewhere in Placer County, 65% voters in the City of Auburn rejected Measure A, a proposed charter that would have given authority to the city to establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) on city projects.
In an earlier post I compared the City of Auburn’s charter campaign to the charter campaign of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (in Los Angeles County) in 2011. In both cases, large and politically sophisticated construction unions used their well-funded labor-management cooperation committees, political action committees, and general budgets to steamroll over a home-grown local grassroots movement.
ADVICE to CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS and CITY STAFF seeking a CHARTER: contact Labor Issues Solutions, LLC for a free consultation and some honest assessments of what it takes to win against aggressive self-interested union opposition. You’re fighting a political machine, as city council members and community activists have recently learned through experience in Rancho Palos Verdes, Auburn, Redding, Paradise, South Lake Tahoe, Folsom, and Elk Grove. You CAN win like Oceanside did in 2010 and El Cajon just did on June 5, 2012 (see below).
There was a gratifying victory in Contra Costa County, where Danville Mayor Candace Andersen won 60% of the vote and easily defeated Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board member Tomi Van De Brooke for the open seat held by the late Supervisor Gayle Uilkema. Van De Brooke only received 28% despite receiving the “benefit” of nasty union-funded mailers about abortion sent to district voters. This is yet another case in which Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in California made a politician accountable to the voters for supporting costly union-backed policies in order to lock up union campaign support. Regrettably, the Project Labor Agreement imposed by Van De Brooke in December 2011 for community college district construction projects will remain as a legacy of this election.
In Sonoma County, there will be a clash between two ideologically opposite members of the Santa Rosa City Council for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The candidate for economic freedom, John Sawyer, will face off against pro-union candidate Susan Gorin.
In Solano County, pro-union challenger Skip Thomson defeated Mike Reagan, the one solid advocate for economic freedom on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. Reagan barely held onto the seat against Thomson four years ago. The Project Labor Agreement policy for Solano County construction projects will continue, now without an opposing view on the board.
In Yolo County, incumbent Duane Chamberlain survived a challenge from union-backed Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel for a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
Voters rejected Measure J, a $59.5 million school bond measure to modernize a high school in the City of Antioch. That was a whopping target for a Project Labor Agreement, as shown by the construction union funding of the campaign to support Measure J.
Disappointing results were seen in the elections for Sacramento City Council, where candidates backed by business groups lost, as usual. The Sacramento City Council continues to be dominated by politicians lukewarm toward economic growth. I believe this results in part from voter distrust of candidates funded by housing tract developers, and NOT because voters love unions. In fact, I think union connections would be a liability for incumbents if campaigns chose to focus on them aggressively.
BACKYARD CHICKEN FREEDOM MOVEMENT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE!
Voters in the City of Yreka (near the Oregon border on I-5) voted 720-650 to approve possession of up to six backyard hens (no roosters) in residential areas of the city. As Yreka City Councilman Bryan Foster said to KDRV News Channel 12 (ABC) in Medford, Oregon: “The chicken issue, for me, it centers around private property rights and really, government interference.” Isn’t it refreshing to hear that kind of statement from a California elected official, even when it’s broadcast from an Oregon TV station? See my earlier post on this hotly-contested issue here.
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
58% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition ordinance as Proposition A on June 5, 2012.
56% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition ordinance as Proposition G on June 8, 2010.
54% of voters approved a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision as Proposition K on June 8, 2010.
Voters will approve a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
No action to date.
57% of voters approved a charter with a Fair and Open Competition provision as Proposition D on June 5, 2012.
No action to date.
San Diego County
76% of voters approved a Fair and Open Competition charter amendment as Proposition A on November 2, 2010.