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Opinion: Richard Markuson

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Campaign Update Part Deux
Last time we talked about three races that were "close."

  • AD 77 (North Coast San Diego) incumbent Brian Maienschein (R) beat Sunday Gover (D) by 607 votes and was declared the winner by San Diego County. Beat may be too strong a term for this victory.
  • Incumbent David Valadao in CA 21 (Fresno, Kern, Kings & Tulare) has conceded to TJ Cox. Cox won by less than 1,000 votes. This mean Democrats picked up seven House seats in California and 40 nationwide. This would be the largest pickup since Watergate, when Democrats picked up 49. The LA Times reports "The run marked Cox's second try for Congress, following an unsuccessful bid in 2006. An engineer by training, he founded two nut-processing companies and serves as president of a local community development organization."
  • In the final close race, after supporters of losing Republican incumbent Janet Nguyen completed their examination of provisional ballot envelopes in SD 34(Orange & LA), Tom Umberg (D) was sworn into office last week. Umberg is the winner according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Santa Barbara City Council Tells Local Contractors to Back Off
A four person (I use that term reluctantly) majority on the Santa Barbara City Council bought the local building trades' argument that a PLA will ensure local jobs, high wages and high quality, on-time delivery of the City's public works construction. They adopted a new City ordinance to authorize PLAs on all City work in excess of $5.0 million--in spite of an outpouring of opposition from local contractors who had been working for the city for years. Mayor Cathy Murillo went so far as to suggest the PLA would help local construction workers transition from renters to buyers, in a housing market with a median price of $1,295,000! She was motivated by Council Member Gregg Hart who leaves office this month--he was elected unopposed to the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors! Hart was just re-elected to the Council in 2017, so his vacancy will be up to the council to fill. Hart serves as public information officer for Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) and previously worked for Assembly member Jack O'Connell. Hart and Murillo were joined by Council members Eric Friedman and Oscar Gutierrez; Council members Kristen Sneddon and Randy Rouse voted no and Council member Jason Dominguez (who participated by phone from South Africa) abstained. One bit of comic relief: A union iron worker from LA forgot to remove his LA union shirt while extolling the virtue of local hire.
Developer Sues Unions for Greenmail. KUSI reports: "The fight over union tactics that have delayed projects in San Diego over the years is being challenged in a Los Angeles federal court. The owner of the Bahia Hotel, Bill Evans, brought the suit against two local unions: 'United Here,' which represents hotel workers, and the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council. The lawsuit claims a pattern of extortion and intimidation by the unions to exact concessions from developers such as project labor agreements. The suit alleges the unions over the years have developed a playbook, or a pattern of tactics, that cross the line from tough negotiations, to illegal activity such as threats to agree to concessions or face a boycott, and other costly delaying tactics. This would include frivolous legal challenges to environmental impact reports, or using labor allies on the City Council to delay or reject a project. The lawsuit claims these acts or threats, form a pattern of racketeering activity. Evans Hotels asserts it has been damaged in excess of $100 million and is entitled to recover treble damages. I wish the developer good luck, but as we know, extortion is a constitutionally protected collective bargaining tactic. More.