Archives: May 2012
By Susan Duerksen | May 25, 2012 |
In the June 5 election, working people in the San Diego region have an important opportunity to protect our communities, local economy and quality of life. With that in mind, I’m sending CPI’s ballot recommendations in hopes they will help you prepare to vote on June 5.
CPI Executive Director
San Diego: NO on Prop A
Proposition A represents special-interest politics of the worst kind. It is designed to give an advantage to certain contractors who want to avoid standards for local hiring and decent wages, and it could be extremely costly for San Diego taxpayers.
Prop A would restrict the City’s options for public works contracting by banning the use of Project Labor Agreements. PLAs are commonly used by both business and public agencies for major projects, and have been proven to save time and money. They are contracts with the construction trades that will be doing the work, and they establish completion deadlines, safety protections and skill requirements as well as standards for the kind of jobs that build a healthy local economy.
It makes no sense to remove this tool, which is available for the City to use when appropriate and useful. Besides, passage of Prop A is likely to cost San Diego up to $158 million in state funds by violating state law on open and fair contracting for public works projects.
Proposition A is a bad idea all around, and CPI urges a NO vote.
NO on Prop B
The irony about all the political bluster over pensions for San Diego city workers is that the people getting the inflated, $100,000+ pensions are administrators, managers and politicians, not the workers. Proposition B doesn’t touch those high pensions.
The average city employee pension is $40,000, and they don’t get Social Security like most of us. City workers like firefighters, 911 operators, park groundskeepers, trash truck drivers and many others have already sacrificed to balance the city budget. Prop B would strip them of a modestly secure retirement.
Prop B will be costly to implement and it’s flatly unfair. CPI recommends voting No on Prop B.
El Cajon: NO on Prop D
In a city that already has the highest poverty rates in San Diego County, Proposition D would drive down wages for local workers. Greedy contractors are pushing for city charters, in El Cajon and elsewhere, as a way to get around state requirements that they pay prevailing wages.
Prevailing wage law ensures that builders and developers with taxpayer-funded construction contracts pay at least the standard wages and benefits for the job in the area. That way, the jobs stay local and stay middle class.
The last thing El Cajon’s economy needs is to give low-road contractors a pass from those requirements. Vote no on Prop D.
Oceanside: NO on Prop E
In Oceanside, an effort to phase out rent control in mobile home parks would benefit developers and out-of-town corporate owners of mobile home parks. The results would be devastating for many of Oceanside’s vulnerable senior citizens, whose rents could skyrocket for the plots of land where their mobile homes are located.
Rent control for mobile home parks in Oceanside has helped many seniors and veterans make ends meet for 30 years, and should be maintained. Vote no on Prop E.
Statewide: YES on Prop 28
Prop 28 is a simple reform that will set a 12-year limit on time in the legislature and eliminate the need to shift between offices. We believe it will help our lawmakers get the work done.
CPI joins the League of Women Voters and Common Cause in urging voters to approve Prop 28.
By Crystal Page | May 24, 2012 |
San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez on efforts to fine banks if they neglect homes to ensure homes are well maintained.
The Property Value Protection Ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember David Alvarez was highlighted on the “Willis Report” on Fox Business National. During the interview, Councilmember Alvarez did an excellent job of highlighting the blight issue as a result of banks not maintaining homes that they foreclose on. These vacant homes are a problem for communities because they lower property values and become health and safety issues. Data from the CPI and ACCE Report, “Foreclosure: The Costs Communities Pay” was highlighted during the show, including the estimated loss to local governments: $134 million-$855 million. These problems are the responsibility of the banks to maintain and not our local government!
Fox also highlighted the poll we did in April showing 70% of San Diego voters favor this ordinance (see below).
To recap, the Property Value Protection Ordinance would:
- create a registry of homes in foreclosure to track banks that own foreclosed homes
- and fine banks up to a $1000 a day, if they fail to maintain foreclosed homes up to code
By Susan Duerksen | May 15, 2012 |
Report: Janitors’ low wages a blotch on biotech’s shining reputation
Janitors who clean the offices and laboratories of San Diego’s highly profitable biotech companies generally aren’t paid enough to live on, while their low wages are excluded from the industry’s claims of creating good jobs.
A new report from the Center on Policy Initiatives examined the pay scales and financial health of large local life sciences firms, including biotech and related companies. While the industry claims its salaries average more than $100,000 locally, that doesn’t count many essential support jobs that often are contracted out – such as janitors, security guards and food service workers.
Janitors at San Diego’s largest life sciences firm, Illumina, are paid an average of $8.84 an hour – $18,387 for a year of full-time work – while the company nets $125 million a year and CEO Jay T. Flately makes $9.9 million.
“These service workers are the invisible part of an industry that receives substantial public subsidy and is considered the best hope for our local economy,” said Corinne Wilson, lead author of the report. “The corporations are thriving and should be responsible employers for all the workers who make that success possible.”
The report, Swept under the Rug: Low Pay in San Diego’s Life Sciences Industry, also found that janitors’ wages in San Diego have consistently lagged behind the statewide average over the past decade, despite the region’s high cost of living.
One janitor profiled in the report, Martha Gómez, is paid $8.40 an hour after four years cleaning Illumina’s offices. She must work two jobs, leaving virtually no time with her 9- and 14-year-old daughters. Another janitor, Arturo Morales, makes $9.78 an hour after seven years at Gen-Probe, and has no health coverage for his wife Maria, who is deteriorating from the potentially fatal disease scleroderma.
Six San Diego janitors are starting a hunger strike today as part of a week-long demonstration of their need for higher wages and health coverage. They are hoping to gain an improved contract through the Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers West.
CPI recommends a Responsible Industry Code of Conduct for life sciences companies that would require service contactors to provide decent jobs with healthcare for local workers.
By Susan Duerksen | May 9, 2012 |
San Diego voters – across the city and across the political spectrum – favor fining banks to cover cleanup costs for foreclosed properties that are not maintained.
In a poll conducted last month, 70% of voters who expect to vote in November said they support $1,000-a-day fines for banks that let foreclosed homes become rundown. The opinion research firm Grove Insight surveyed 600 voters in the city by telephone, and found only 14% opposed the idea.
“San Diegans are fed up with the blight in their neighborhoods, the hazards to their children and the damage to their property values,” said Clare Crawford, executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, which commissioned the poll. “And as taxpayers they’re footing the bill for police and fire calls, inspections, maintenance and other services the city must provide bank-owned homes.”
The Property Value Protection Ordinance, proposed by CPI and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), would require banks to register foreclosed properties and pay fines of $1,000 a day when they don’t maintain a home after complaints are received. The money would recover city costs.
The poll found more than 60% support the idea in every geographic region of the city, with 78% support among Democrats and 66% among Republicans and Independents. Overall, 70% of voters support the proposal, including 42% who “strongly” support it. Only 14% were opposed and 16% undecided.
“Foreclosure blight continues to be a serious problem in neighborhoods across our city,” said Councilmember David Alvarez, who is introducing the ordinance. “It’s time San Diego takes action, as many other cities have done, to recover the costs created by foreclosures and force banks to clean up their mess.”
Chula Vista and more than 70 other cities throughout California already have adopted similar ordinances.
ACCE member Rafael Bautista sent letters today to all candidates for San Diego Mayor and Council, asking them to take a stand on the issue publicly before the June 5 election.
CPI and ACCE issued a report last year that estimated foreclosures since 2008 have caused a combined home value loss of $19 billion for homeowners in the City of San Diego and cost taxpayers between $134 million and $855 million.
At today’s Land Use and Housing hearing, San Diego Councilmember Lorie Zapf, who chairs the Land Use and Housing Committee, announced that she has scheduled the first hearing of the proposed ordinance for July 11th, at 2pm. The public is invited to attend this hearing to ensure that the ordinance continues to move forward. Please contact Norma Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org, 619-584-5744 ext. 62 for any further questions.