The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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The Lying Wage, A Ruthless Display of Power and Jerry's Pants

March 22, 2000

Dear Editor,

Tom Larmore's letter to the Lookout is full of blatant misrepresentations. Is this the level of veracity the community can expect from proponents of some businesses' Trojan Horse ballot measure? If so, I feel fully justified in having called their deceptive proposal
not a living wage but a lying wage.

To take the false claims regarding Council actions one at a time:

"First, they misappropriated the phrase "living wage" by attempting to apply it to a measure which would more than double the minimum wage."

The proposal brought to the community by Santa Monicans Allied for Responsible Tourism (SMART) called for a full-time worker to get just over $21,000 a year. That would barely take his or her family off food stamps. Under federal housing guidelines, it would enable rent of about $535 a month. Do the luxury hotels think that's too much wealth to bestow on struggling workers?

"Second, this extreme measure was prepared by a small group meeting in secret with absolutely no attempt to meet with the Chamber of Commerce or any other employer group before bringing it forward."

The SMART plan was developed over many months, with interactive presentations to neighborhood groups, the Bayside District Board, and an offer of a Chamber presentation that was declined. The lying wage ballot initiative is the one forged in secrecy. The big-money arrogance of bringing in a hired gun consultant from San Francisco to hoodwink Santa Monica voters is matched only by the Jonathan Club's sudden firing of loyal poverty-level workers who "happened" to be true living wage activists. Still a Jonathan Club member, Mr. Larmore, and do you support this apparently retaliatory firing?

"Third, the Council then voted to study the proposal with no attempt to seriously listen to these concerns."

Oh, please! The City Council held a long and very public hearing at which many businesses made their case. At the end of that meeting I took great pains to read into the record a list of the eleven major concerns businesses expressed, so that they would be sure to be studied thoroughly before an ordinance was crafted. A "scoping" workshop introducing the consultant to research the impacts drew still more business input, all of
which was noted and taken very seriously. In particular, we're committed to finding a fair solution that doesn't yank the tablecloth on our local restaurants.

"The Chamber has consistently supported true "living wage" measures such as the one we are proposing."

Somehow Mr. Larmore must have missed -- or forgotten? -- the Chamber meeting at which the formation of his own committee was announced, along with the raising of significant funds to fight a living wage. The minutes indicate a Chamber position opposing inalterably any city attempt to increase minimum wages in Santa Monica.

Beware the silver spoon and forked tongue.

Kevin McKeown
Councilmember
City of Santa Monica
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March 22,

Dear Editor,

"It is disgusting to watch wealthy people step on hard-working, poor people -- especially during such prosperous times.

This (the Jonathan Club's) ruthless display of power shows why so many workers need unions to protect them."

Paul Rosenstein
Councilmember
City of Santa Monica
paul-rosenstein@santa-monica.org

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March 23, 2000

I simply do not care if Mr. Rubin will have pants, long or short, at the council meeting... should he be elected, but I know he is an activist, and even an activist must eat from time to time, so my question is: "What does he do for a living?"

How about posting a phone number since he wants the voters to call and ask questions?

Everyone who seeks office, usually, says that he or she can do better than the other person. Mr. Rubin's statement is that he is just like the other candidates, so why should I vote for him? I can vote for anyone and I would have the same mentality, right? There just must be someone a bit different than Mr. Rubin so I hope!

Maria Sirotti
Santa Monica


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