Chamber of commerce chieftain and ex–San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders — widely credited with pioneering the use of the referendum process to outrun city-council decisions on hiking the minimum wage and planning for Barrio Logan — has quietly folded the chamber’s so-called Small Business Coalition.
The political committee was used to raise cash for the 2014 signature drive that succeeded in putting the minimum-wage boost on 2016’s ballot, thereby dodging the higher-salary bullet opposed by the local hotel and restaurant industry. During the referendum drive, Sanders and his cohorts maintained their efforts were being paid for by small-business types; a disclosure filing made by the coalition last November revealed that the bulk of the nearly half-million dollars raised and spent had actually been furnished by larger entities, including the Washington DC–based American Hotel and Lodging Association, with $100,000 and the Sacramento-based California Restaurant Association Issues PAC, with $40,000.
Two local businesses were among the bigger givers: Phil’s BBQ of Point Loma, Inc., with $10,000, and Shelter Island, Inc., owned by the Baumann family, operators of the Bali Hai and Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, with $5000.
Meanwhile, Continental Maritime, the shipyard owned by military contracting giant Huntington Ingalls Industries, has said it will lay off 142 workers beginning April 24, according to a U-T San Diego report. “We have experienced a significant reduction in business from our customer (Navy) that will significantly affect the work we perform on existing programs,” the paper quoted a company letter as saying.
According to city campaign disclosure records, the shipbuilder contributed more than $50,000 to the Sanders anti-barrio plan campaign last year; parent company Huntington Ingalls kicked in $200,000. Opponents of the plan labeled it a “job killer.” But the barrio plan didn’t die totally in vain. A few days later BAE, another military contracting behemoth that paid for the referendum, said it may hire up to 500 new workers to handle rich Navy warship contracts.