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Living Wage Unfair and Balancing Power

October 21, 2002

Dear Editor,

Having served as President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and the PTA as well as one who has lived and worked in Santa Monica for more than 25 years, I have endorsed many worthy community issues or ballot measures. This year, however, a measure is on the ballot that I believe will be particularly destructive to our city, its businesses and its residents. It is Measure JJ.

This proposed living wage ordinance, while raising the salaries of some, will do so unfairly at the expense of businesses located in a narrowly defined area. Even more unfair will be the significant cost to the city at a time when some services have to be cut in order to balance the already strained budget.

Workers should have the right to make as much as they can by based on their skill level and hard work. But no workers should have an unfair advantage over others determined merely by which side of the street they work on. And, by the same token, businesses, even if large or successful, should not unfairly be put at a competitive disadvantage over others a block or two away.

While well intentioned, whatever good results from this poorly written ordinance will be more than offset by the loss of jobs from layoffs or competition for the higher wages by more skilled workers from outside the city. And those who lose their jobs will likely be the most vulnerable. Entry level and teen employment will all but disappear in the affected area. Those with language handicaps or other disadvantages will be closed out of the job market. Moreover, senior centers and community agencies will be hurt by this ordinance. This is just not right.

Measure JJ was cleverly designed to benefit the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union. Because of a clause that exempts businesses from the minimum wage law if they unionize, many will feel compelled to so that they might avoid significant financial hardship. This is a form of coercion and has no place in Santa Monica.

If Measure JJ were well written, it would benefit many while hurting few. Its cost would be reasonable and it would be widely accepted. Much to the contrary, this ordinance is discriminatory and destructive. Santa Monica deserves better. I will vote no on it and I recommend that you do the same.

Ann Greenspun

October 21, 2002

Dear Editor,

A vote for Josefina Aranda can bring needed balance to the Santa Monica City Council.

Women, Hispanics and the Pico Neighborhood consistently remain under-represented on the City Council. Today we have one woman, no Hispanics and no residents of the Pico Neighborhood serving on the Council. A vote for Josefina can change that.

With a recent masters degree from Columbia and a bachelor's degree from UCLA, Josefina brings the knowledge, ideas and energy of a new generation to City Hall. Having been born and raised in Santa Monica by hard working and accomplished parents, Josefina already has established a record of community service impressive for someone twice her age.

On the City Council, Josefina will have the opportunity to serve her community further by applying the same skills and energy that have made her such a highly successful contributor in each of her community service endeavors thus far.

As an accomplished problem solver who is skilled at working with people in very difficult situations, we can expect Josefina to bring a fresh approach to tackling the City's toughest issues, whether they be people without homes, cars without parking spaces or people without voices in City Hall.

Josefina is a bright rising star bound for far greater civic responsibilities in the future. Let's make the Santa Monica City Council the next stop for this very impressive young lady from the Pico Neighborhood.

Jean Gebman

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