A Self-Imposed Crisis
by Hugh Akston
I was going to remain silent on this issue, but comments made at a recent San Diego City Council hearing on the issuance of bond offering documents as well as articles by former Councilmember Donna Frye at Voice of SD and SD Rostra got the best of me.
While I can probably guess that most Rostra readers support Proposition A, which would keep the City of San Diego from forcing the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on construction projects, that is not the point of this column. My beef is with state elected officials, on behalf of the opponents of the measure. If you don’t know the background, the Legislature passed TWO “gut and amend” bills, SB 922 and SB 829. These measures are intended to undercut the authority of local jurisdictions where voters pass measures prohibiting their governing boards from “considering” adoption of PLAs, by penalizing those agencies with a loss of state funding for construction projects.
Without a doubt, should San Diego voters pass Proposition A, all hell will break loose in the courts. (Does the City get a discount if they package Proposition B along with Prop A?). Yet, again, I’m not here arguing whether SB 922 and 829 are unconstitutional or if Proposition A would negate any state monies.
SB 922 was originally a bill about immunizations, which passed the Senate on May 9, 2011. On September 2, 2011 the bill was amended to deal with contracting, right in the middle of the signature gathering effort for Prop A. Was the argument of potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars used by opponents when the City Council ultimately voted to place the measure on the ballot? You betcha.
SB 829 was originally a bill dealing with the Occupation Safety and Health Appeals Board. The bill passed the Senate on May 31, 2011, worked its way through Assembly committees, and was eventually gutted on February 23, 2012, also to address the PLA issue. This was the second bite at the apple. Based on legal opinions saying SB 922 was a little wishy-washy, supporters of 829 went back and made the language even stronger.
Its pretty evident these legislative efforts were not separate from the campaign to oppose Proposition A. In fact, the basis for the opposition has moved AWAY from how great PLAs are said to be for workers, to the argument that the City MAY lose money if Prop A passes, due to the two bills that opponents of the measure worked to get through the legislature.
The dots are easy to connect.
We now have State Senator Christine Kehoe sending a representative down to the city council meeting voicing concerns about how Proposition A could impact San Diego, jobs, etc. and that such information should be disclosed on bond offering documents. Donna Frye is even making a comeback and weighing in, along with Scott Barnett of taxpayersadvocate.org. (Why isn’t Barnett using his title as San Diego Unified School Board member? That’s right, just look how great they’re doing).
We wouldn’t have been in this position if the State Legislature hadn’t meddled in the affairs of local jurisdictions and their voters. It’s no wonder many municipalities are moving full steam ahead to become charter cities. What we have here is a self-imposed crisis by the very same people that are saying “Look out!”
Like so many others here are probably thinking, let’s just get on with the election and get past all of this ridiculousness.