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School board candidates on creationism, prayer, tenure

SEpt14MeetingWIDE-500Both candidates competing to represent Area 4 of the Escondido Union (elementary) School District told Escondido Democrats in a forum September 13 they support teaching creationism alongside science in the classroom. Incumbent Board Member Marty Hranek said it is “important to offer different viewpoints and state the facts as they are. There’s a lot of very good research out there for multiple philosophies.” Zesty Harper, who is challenging Hranek, said “I’m a Christian and I believe God created the earth. I think we should offer both views… in a non-biased way.” Hranek later sent an email attempting to backtrack from his comments, writing “I do not agree that ‘creationism’ should be taught as curriculum in public schools.”

Watch video of the candidates on the EDC YouTube Channel.

Continue reading…

Few surprises in Council candidate forum

photo of Council candidate forum

There were few surprises at the Chamber of Commerce Council Candidate Forum September 10, and few in the audience to see them. The candidates all participated, several of them admitting this was their first time in a forum, giving one of only a few chances for voters to compare them in action. (The League of Women Voters will provide another opportunity at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 25 in Council Chambers at City Hall.) The 7:30 a.m. start time was clearly part of the attendance problem. There were fewer than 50 people in the audience.

Incumbent Ed Gallo is challenged by Conseulo Martinez in District One. Appointed incumbent John Masson is challenged by Nicole Downey, Chad ‘Shad’ Hunziker and Rick Paul in District Two. Kevin Svetich of the Chamber served as moderator.

Continue reading…

Labor Day reminds us of union contributions

labor day graphicEver wonder why America observes Labor Day? Think back on what organized labor has done for you: Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight-hour day, the five-day week, and protecting workers’ safety and health.  Unions also helped create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage.

Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people through expanded family and medical leave, higher minimum wages, improved safety and health protections and fair-trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

How do unions help working families today? Through unions, workers win better wages, benefits and a voice on the job—and good union jobs mean stronger communities. Unions built the American middle class. Union workers earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union. Union members are 50 percent more likely to have paid personal leave, which strengthens families.

And, of course, it is because of organized labor that you are enjoying a holiday this weekend!

Cities lose prevailing wage case; Charter argument weakened

9/2 UPDATE: We understand from news reports that the judge has upheld his tentative ruling and has found SB 7 to be constitutional. Cities are considering their option to appeal.

ORIGINAL POST: In a “tentative” ruling, a San Diego County Superior Court Judge says the state can force cities using state funds to pay prevailing wages on construction projects. While the ruling is not yet final and is certain to be appealed, it appears to further weaken the case for Charter City status for Escondido.

While prevailing wages are not mentioned in the proposed Charter, they are, in fact, the primary motivation for those who back the change. The movement to get small and middle-sized cities to change from general law to charter status has been promoted by the construction industry in an effort to pay lower, non-union wages to construction workers. To head off that effort, Democrats in the state legislature passed SB 7 requiring charter cities to pay prevailing wages or lose state funding.

The suit was brought by the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista and El Cajon to challenge the law. Claimed savings by not paying prevailing wages has been a primary argument for Escondido changing from general law to charter city status. General law cities are required to pay prevailing wages on construction projects.

Read more in UT San Diego.

Read the ruling.

More evidence pointing to charter ‘savings’ fallacy

Prevailing Wage Survey by City of Carlsbad

City of Carlsbad answers to prevailing wage survey.

by Don Greene, President

Part of the pro-city charter mantra we hear from Mayor Abed and the other members of the city council majority is about savings. Especially savings when it comes to eliminating prevailing wages from city construction projects. In a recently released survey, the ‘savings’ that Sam & Co continue to promote are becoming harder and harder to find.

Continue reading…

Mayor Abed’s deceptively ‘showy’ chart

by Don Greene, President

Mayor's Budget Chart - No Substance, All Show

This chart, while ‘showy’ doesn’t tell the real story about the city’s economy.

For those of us at the Mayoral Forum put on by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, we really saw Mayor Abed come alive when he was able to show one of his props to the audience. And while the chart on “financial stability” that he presented paints a “pretty” picture, it is deceptive in the information which it provides.

Before we can understand how it is that this chart is deceptive, let’s take a moment to understand basic municipal finance. This is by no means a comprehensive look at municipal finance, but neither is the Mayor’s chart.

Continue reading…

Abed, Diaz spar at Chamber Forum

ChamberMayoralForum8-14-500

There were few surprises as candidates for Escondido Mayor in the November election met for a forum August 20, sponsored by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Sam Abed and Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz repeatedly demonstrated the starkly different choice before voters. Perhaps the ‘news’ was the presence of Stephen Siaw, an unexpected newcomer to the race and to city politics. It was Siaw’s first appearance at a public candidate forum. The approximately 100 people in attendance welcomed him warmly.

Watch video of the forum (thanks to Clarke Dailey).

Chamber Governmental Affairs chair Kevin Svetich asked a wide-ranging mix of questions that covered the key issues. Here’s a quick summary of significant responses:

Continue reading…

Diaz supports Lakes initiative

LAKES InitiativeDeputy Mayor Olga Diaz announced in an email to supporters August 19 that she will support the Lakes initiative, Prop. H on the November ballot, as “the first and only written compromise” that “provides a path to resolving an expensive legal dispute.”

Diaz went on to say “I have considered the options, removing the emotion of loss (from both parties) and considered only the measurable outcomes to determine that The Lakes Specific Plan Initiative is worth supporting. I believe it is actually a pretty good plan. Not perfect, but good.”

In a Chamber of Commerce forum August 20, Mayor Sam Abed was asked his position and said “Let the voters decide and we will work with Stuck In The Rough. I’m committed to providing a solution.” (Stuck in the Rough is the developer’s firm seeking to build 430 homes on land previously used as the Escondido Country Club golf course.) But Abed never said whether he was for or against the initiative. He noted that he “never took sides” and from the beginning has sought a compromise. (See a history of his positions on the Escondido 2014 blog.)

Candidate Stephen Siaw, also at the forum, said “I’m a big individual liberty guy,” and that he supports the initiative because a property owner has the right to develop his property.

Read the entire statement from Deputy Mayor Diaz.

Read coverage in UT San Diego.
Read coverage from KPBS.