Responding to Souza’s Letter on Living Wage

One of the more fun aspects of writing in a blog is the opportunity to respond to all sorts of things in the political sphere of Davis. Last night I was pleased to see a letter to the Davis Enterprise by Councilmember Stephen Souza. Despite the fact that I actually have a backlog of new entries to post, it’s always nice to have fresh material on a subject I’ve already written about.

Souza writes, “While both Council member Don Saylor and I support a living wage…”

I’m glad Souza wrote that, because if he hadn’t I would have never known from the rest of his letter that he supported the concept of the living wage.

He continues, “we know of no other place where an arbitrary discrimination about number of employees, revenues or size of a business has been upheld in court.”

Souza is actually correct about this, in July, a court struck down a law in Maryland attempting to force Wal-Mart to pay some of the health care of its employees. A ruling in Maryland that invalidated a state law designed to force Wal-Mart to pay for a portion of its employees’ medical costs could pose a problem for a similar law in New York. The basis for this law is that a very high percentage of Wal-Mart employees end up requiring state assistance for their health care. In California, Medi-Cal (i.e. the voters end up paying health care for Wal-Mart employees). In fact, this issue is on the forefront of the fight for affordable wages and health care.

Yes, Souza is correct that these laws have not been upheld. However, this issue is part of the core progressive agenda and we see which side Souza is on in this fight. Moveover, we see the use of the word “discrimination,” exactly what Souza feels about this policy—he’s not against it because it was struck down, he opposes it because he’s against the policy itself.

Souza also states, “the particular living wage ordinance was trotted out at the last moment before other council members could review or comment on the measure.”

As reported in our previous blog entry, this is a misleading claim AT BEST. Councilmember Heystek actually brought the issue forward at the August 1, 2006 meeting. The council majority led by Souza and Saylor REFUSED to allow it to be prepared by staff for agenda. They encouraged Heystek to prepare the item himself which he did. And when he did, he was roundly criticized by Souza and Saylor for electioneering. Had Souza and Saylor allowed staff to prepare it, it could have come out at the first meeting in September after council recess, that would have given them an additional week to consider and modify the proposal.

This complaint, not surprisingly is sheer politics. So it is with great irony that Souza ends his letter by stating:

“While it is an election season, it would be my hope that all of us seek to find some merit and information in the views of others and that the meetings of the Davis City Council focus on the business of the city, leaving election campaigning outside the Community Chambers.” He says without irony.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting


  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.


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