For months, the collapse of the stock market and the size of the government bailout have dominated the national debate. While we are spending $800 billion or more to keep our financial institutions afloat, what are we doing to help the recovery of average American families? We are repairing the budgets of executives flying to congressional hearings in their corporate jets, but how do we repair the budgets of working families who cannot pay their mortgage or rent, utilities or medical bills? Read More
One of the proudest moments in San Diego’s ongoing struggle for economic justice was the passage of the city’s living wage law in 2005. In these harsh economic times, it gives our service workers a little help by requiring government contractors to pay $12.70 per hour, or $2 less for employer-provided health insurance. Although this is not enough to make ends meet in San Diego, it helps taxpayers by taking some working poor off government programs and stimulating the local economy.
Unfortunately, not all companies are following the law. Center on Policy Initiatives, in cooperation with Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Mike Aguirre, exposed, investigated, prosecuted and prevailed in two major cases where contractors were cheating workers off their rightful earnings. In one case, the worker cooperating with us was retaliated against — chastised, transferred, demoted, and fired. Read More
Taxpayers should not be the last refuge of irresponsible businesses. Yet, every level of government — from the city of San Diego contracts to post-Katrina and Iraq reconstruction at the federal level — is suffering the consequences of unaccountable and irresponsible contracting practices. Recent reports describe how contractors knowingly overcharged the city more than $2 million for debris removal after the wildfires. This is because of our apologetic approach to interfering in the free market, even when the government is a key player in the market itself. This apologetic nature is reflected in poorly written and un-enforced contracts, our tolerance for poor quality services and claw-backs, and our reluctance to ensure that contractors do not violate the law. Read More
One thing the collapse of the financial markets makes clear: We are all in this economy together.
When working people can’t make ends meet — and can’t pay their mortgages — the house of cards falls down on all of us. When people in our community are struggling to scrape by on poverty wages, it’s everybody’s problem, and not just for humanitarian reasons. Locally as well as nationally, a healthy economy depends on strong middle-class jobs with paychecks that cover the bills.
The city of San Diego recognized this basic economic truth in 2005 when it adopted a living wage law. As with similar measures in about 120 other cities and counties, the law says companies that have contracts with the city must pay their workers at least a “living wage,” one that is enough to meet basic living expenses. In San Diego, it’s about $13 an hour this year — still a low wage but significantly more than minimum wage. Read More
If there is any universal agreement in the wide-ranging debate on the health insurance crisis, it is that the rising number of uninsured Americans is unacceptable.
Besides the moral repugnance at allowing people to get sick and die because they can’t pay for care, it’s widely acknowledged that the lack of health insurance for a portion of the population is a financial burden on the whole community.
San Diego County, for instance, spends more than $57 million a year to care for the uninsured whose medical problems have escalated in the absence of preventive care.
Hospitals bump up their rates to cover uninsured patients, and that in turn raises insurance premiums. Being uninsured is not just a personal issue – it’s widely seen as detrimental to society. Read More
Imagine we in San Diego County had $2 billion to spend every year — that’s $5.5 million a day, including weekends and holidays — to help relieve traffic congestion, rebuild the urban infrastructure and lessen the impact of global warming. We could do a lot.
Or, imagine we leveraged that annual revenue to generate a massive $25 billion to invest up front in a new green and sustainable infrastructure for the 21st century. We could rebuild San Diego to get our homes closer to our jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring a higher quality of life to our neighborhoods. We could even expand on ideas used in other cities such as bicycle zones and universal broadband access to increase telecommuting. Read More
By Murtaza Baxamusa | Published in voiceofsandiego.org | May 21, 2008 |
Sunroad and Blackwater are symptoms of a Land Development Code that does not work. As the Grand Jury noted recently, we have volumes of regulations that put inordinate burden on the little guy at the counter. And major and controversial development projects get a free pass.
In the Blackwater case, the dispute is over nuances of terms. The city claims this is a “security training facility” with a “shooting range”, and Blackwater claims this is a “vocational facility” with a “target range”. Regardless of what you call it, the community was neither informed nor consulted about the impacts of this project. Read More
San Diego Unified has many options besides layoffs
The San Diego Unified School District board will vote this afternoon on laying off more than 900 teachers. The consequences of that vote will ripple far beyond the careers of those educators and into San Diego’s economic future.
Investment in public education is prudent financial planning. A community’s business climate and economic strength are directly tied to education spending levels, smaller class sizes, student access to technology and well-trained, innovative teachers, numerous studies have shown. In a Brookings Institution survey, three-quarters of corporate managers said local education quality was the top criterion when they decide where to locate.
Especially now, as working families face the corrosive effects of a recession, it is critical to ensure — not jeopardize — a quality education for our next working generation. Read More
Now is the time to plan a San Diego beyond a recession.
San Diegans are having a tough time making ends meet. The cost of living in San Diego is increasing faster than wages. Today, a single adult needs at least $28,510 a year for basic essentials and a two-adult working family with two children needs $71,385 for basic expenses including childcare.
Falling employment, stagnant wages, uncontrolled debt and slack consumer confidence are afflicting San Diego as much, if not more than, the rest of the nation. San Diego has the lowest average wage per job, when adjusted for the cost of living, among comparable metro areas in the United States. San Diego wages also have the lowest purchasing power, given local costs. In this context, low-wage workers are most vulnerable since they often lack a cushion of savings. Read More