Grand Del Mar hotel
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"Expect hardball," a U-T San Diego editorial promised this week about an anticipated referendum campaign by the paper's publisher and his political allies against the city council's vote to hike the minimum wage. "It can get ugly."

A glimpse of the financial firepower that Douglas Manchester may be preparing to marshal against the wage boost is contained in a disclosure filed this week with the city clerk by a political committee calling itself "Families Working Together for Financial Freedom."

As anticipated by city-hall political insiders, a bevy of corporations and political action committees — not families — came up with the cash.

The fund raised $59,000 from April through the end of June from a group of high-dollar restaurants and two hotel-industry political action committees, the document shows.

Funding came from George's at the Cove in La Jolla, Trophy Properties, Inc., and the Brigantine, Inc., which each put up $5000. Prime Steaks, Inc., and Prime Steaks III, both of Oklahoma City, also gave $5000 each.

The San Diego Lodging Industry Association kicked in $9900 and the Hotel-Motel Association Issue Advocacy PAC furnished $7500.

Manchester, who owns the Grand Del Mar hotel and golf course, has been a force to reckon with in both groups.

Through the end of June, the committee had spent $113,784 in a campaign to mount an initiative drive to counter the minimum-wage boost favored by San Diego City Council Democrats, according to the filing. The group reported $56,640 in outstanding debt.

The proposed initative was submitted to the city clerk for circulation approval in April. A U-T story reported April 29 that "Instead of incrementally increasing the minimum wage to $13.09 by July 2017 as [city councilman Todd] Gloria proposed, the new ballot measure calls for incremental hikes to $12 by January 2018….

"The new measure would also exempt many businesses from paying the higher minimum wage, make employees who receive tips ineligible for some pay increases and limit a sick leave requirement to full-time workers."

The minimum-wage battle drew more interest in political circles earlier this week with the revelation that San Diego State University is being sued by Elite Show Services over what the security vendor alleges is the school's failure to honor a $236,057 Qualcomm Stadium security contract subject to the city's so-called Fair Wage ordinance.

The school, which runs the KPBS public broadcast operation, a well-funded public opinion player on both radio and television, has yet to respond to the charges.

Whatever posture SDSU president Elliot Hirshman and the school-operated media ultimately adopt, the U-T is, for one, confidently predicting that big political money will carry the day in the city's minimum-wage war.

"Referendums to force a council rollback of humongous increases in the linkage fee on commercial and industrial development and to force a public vote on the updated community plan for Barrio Logan, which posed a threat to San Diego’s ship repair industry, were both successful," the paper's July 30 editorial noted.

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BlueSouthPark Aug. 1, 2014 @ 3:25 p.m.

Wow. That is one hell of an ugly UT editorial. It truly smacks of megalomania. But wait, lucky locals, we have a softer side of Manchester world:

The corporate family of KPBS and their partner VoSD has repeatedly covered the minimum wage story by addressing the potential of loss of "financial freedom" of their media go-to guy, their bro, the popular, cool, self-made businessman, Matt Gordon (Urban Solace), if he is forced to comply with the half-way livable minimum wage ordinance. As he frames it in VoSD, putting a bit more pay in a worker's pocket won't come back to enrich his business:

"I don't have a crystal ball, but I'm pretty sure that someone who's making $10 an hour and now is going to make $11.50 an hour isn't going to all of a sudden decide to stop going to Walmart and McDonald's and Burger King for hamburgers and towels and sheets," he said. "They're not going to suddenly go to Urban Solace and stop at Pigment on the corner on the way out to buy a $200 candle because they got a raise for $1.50."

A $200 candle? Is that the world he he lives in? Is the goal of a livable wage to be able to buy expensive restaurant food and overpriced decor? Jeez!

Heads up, unelected business people: all of you who use the Manchester and other corporate-shill media to bemoan the Council wage decision, and who support government by referendum, will lose business from people like me. Please, won't some other restauranteurs and shop owners contact KPBS, the UT, and VoSD, and describe how hurt your bottom line will be, so I can know to add your business to my list of places to avoid?


jnojr Aug. 4, 2014 @ 2:26 p.m.

Why should anyone be handed a raise for living and breathing?

There are so many ways to EARN more than minimum wage. NASSCO has fired up their training program. Continuing Ed, ROP, community colleges... lots of ways you can learn real skill that's actually useful, and start earning more. But why should all of us face price increases to benefit the do-nothings who refuse to climb off the bottom rung of the work ladder? We all wind up worse off so they can feel a little better for a short prior of time before they start to cry again about how expensive everything is and need another free boost.

If you can't afford to live in San Diego, move. There are lots of places with a much lower cost of living and the same minimum wage. You can boost your standard of living right now... oh, but you have human right to live at the beach, right?


AlexClarke Aug. 5, 2014 @ 7:06 a.m.

Amazing that so many people think so little of those who do hard work. Manchester makes millions of dollars off his hotels yet pays many of his workers minimum or near minimum wage. He does not view most of his hotel employees as valuable to his bottom line. I wonder how many people would stay at his overpriced hotels if they had to make their own beds and carry their own baggage and park their own cars. How many of his hotel workers also get welfare? Like Walmart and the like they rely on taxpayers to foot the bill for their workers and augment the bottom line. If your business model relies on low wage low/no benefit workers and the taxpayer to make a profit then you are at best amoral.


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