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Council overrides Faulconer wage veto

In a special session Monday, the San Diego City Council overrode Mayor Kevin Faulconer's veto of a hike in the minimum wage, making San Diego the largest city in the country to adopt its own minimum wage.

But now the real battle begins, as opponents of the measure will attempt to block it from taking effect Jan. 1 by initiating a ballot drive that could keep it in limbo for more than a year until voters weigh in on it.

Opponents, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses as well as individual hotels, restaurants and retailers throughout the city, have already contributed roughly $300,000 to the petition drive, with pledges for around $200,000 more, said Jason Cabell Roe, head of the Revolvis political consultancy, which is organizing the campaign.

The opponents have 30 days to collect 34,000 legitimate signatures, meaning they will target at least 50,000 people to sign up. Roe said the campaign will begin Wednesday morning, as soon as the petitions are printed.

If the petition drive succeeds, the measure would not take effect until after the referendum is voted on, which will likely be during the June 2016 presidential primary.

Supporters of the measure, however, are mobilizing to block the signature-gathering drive. Business leaders such as Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) founder Irwin Jacobs and ManpowerGroup Inc. (NYSE: MAN) regional co-owner Mel Katz, a former head of the Chamber of Commerce, have called on voters not to sign the petitions.

Raise Up San Diego, an ad hoc group formed to support the wage hike, plans to launch a social media campaign and field a small army of pamphleteers that will hover around the signature collectors and provide information about why the referendum would not be a good idea.

"Putting it on the ballot will mean 18 months of delay for people who are already struggling to make ends meet," said Robert Nothoff, who is coordinating the Raise Up campaign. "The longer we wait, the longer we extend the hardship."

The council voted 6-2 on the measure; opponent Lorie Zapf was absent.

Because of the date that Faulconer chose to veto the measure, Council President Todd Gloria had to call a special meeting for the override, interrupting the Council's August vacation break.

Councilmember Scott Sherman flew in from a fishing vacation in Baja California to oppose the measure ("I apologize for looking so unkempt," he said), while Councilmember Mark Kersey delivered his “no” vote in a telephone call from Ohio. Sheryl Cole called in her “yes” vote from Georgia.

Sherri Lightner called the measure "a reasonable, commonsense measure will help our workforce and boost our economy" by putting more spending money into the hands of workers.

But Sherman said the measure "won't raise people up, it will raise prices." He said that some people might have to work two jobs to make ends meet, but added that "I've work two jobs — running my business and sitting on City Council. It's one of the things you have to do to survive in this city. This is an expensive city."


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San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

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402 West Broadway Ste., 1000
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive(s):

Jerry Sanders

  • Chief Executive Officer, President

Ruben Barrales

  • Chief Executive Officer

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