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The scuffle between Elite Show Services and Staff Pro over two open security contracts at Qualcomm Stadium rages on. At the center of the debate is allegations that Staff Pro is trying to avoid paying their employees living wages.

Now, armed with a recent opinion from the City Attorney's Office it appears as if Elite may have the upper hand. In a February 6 memo, Deputy City Attorney Thomas Zeleny stated that Staff Pro was required to pay living wages during all events at Qualcomm, despite the size or length of the events.

The back and forth broke out shortly after the city awarded two separate security contracts for Qualcomm Stadium in August and September 2012. One was for the overall security of the facility every day, 24 hours a day. Elite won that contract with a bid of $351,000 a year for 24/7 security detail at Qualcomm. The second contract was to provide security for events. Staff Pro, with a bid of $69,500 a year, won that.

The fight for the contracts, however, was far from over.

Months later, during a November 28 meeting of San Diego's Budget and Finance Committee, representatives from Elite, the City's go-to security outfit for years, accused Staff Pro of trying to skirt the Living Wage Ordinance. Councilmembers decided to look into the claim and continued the item until a later date.

Staff Pro's president, Cory Meredith, fired back in a January 2 letter to members of San Diego's Budget and Finance Committee. In his letter, Meredith called out Elite and Stadium staff for conspiring against them.

"Elite, our competitor, had the opportunity to malign Staff Pro without our ability to respond," reads the letter. "Given past behavior related to this particular procurement, we fear that the presentation was coordinated and that we were intentionally kept in the dark."

Meredith added that his company would pay the required living wages at those events that fall under the Living Wage Ordinance. "The City has acknowledged that some of those events do not trigger the City's Living Wage Ordinance, but where it does, we will fully comply."

Meredith then took a shot at Elite over a recent federal investigation into claims that Elite hired high school students to work during Charger games in exchange for donations to their school's sports teams.

"Clearly, these are very serious allegations," wrote Meredith. "If borne out, it will mean that far from having paid a 'living wage,' Elite would have paid far less than even minimum wage to children."

Despite the letter, Deputy City Attorney Zeleny sided with Elite, saying that city staff and Staff Pro were wrong to think that the company was exempt from paying living wages during smaller events.

"The [Living Wage Ordinance] requires payment of living wages on both the 24/7 Contract and the Events Contract. While many of the future contracts between Staff Pro and those holding events at Qualcomm Stadium may be too short to be a City facility agreement, the Events Contract meets the definition of a service contract under the [Living Wage Ordinance] which independently requires payment of living wages."

The Budget and Finance Committee will hear the item at an upcoming meeting.

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