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Raise The Minimum Wage, Yes On Measure G!

by Steven Argue
Yes on G!

No on Cynthia Matthews, Mike Rotkin, and Lynn Robinson!
Raise The Minimum Wage, Yes On Measure G!

By Steven Argue

Santa Cruz California often comes in second as the most expensive place to live in the country. Here, the poor that are working for the current minimum wage of $6.75 an hour often suffer homelessness and hunger and are constantly forced to make hard financial decisions about necessities that cause constant stress.

Measure G will not solve all of this, but it will help. It will raise the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour.

Opposing this minimal raise for some of the poorest local residents are City Council candidates Mike Rotkin, Cynthia Matthews, and Lynn Robinson (three seats are open in this election). These three anti-worker and anti-poor candidates have raised the following amounts for their campaigns:

No on G: Cynthia Matthews: $25,000
No on G: Mike Rotkin: $22,000
No on G: Lynn Robinson $18,000

City Council candidates supporting the higher minimum wage are Simba Kenyatta, Chriss Cobb, and Bruce Van Allen. Here is the funding their campaigns have received.

Yes on G: Bruce Van Allen $10,000
Yes on G: Chriss Cobb $600
Yes on G: Simba Kenyatta $90

As usual in Santa Cruz “progressive” politics the most anti-poor candidates are getting the most funding from local business interests and are the most likely to win.

Mike Rotkin has a particularly rotten record on the issue of the minimum wage. When I ran for City Council in 2000 and in 2002 part of my platform was to raise the minimum wage, actually to double it. In one public discussion Mike Rotkin went so far as to laugh at me and say that the minimum wage cannot be raised on a municipal level, that state and federal law take precedent. He then went further in his lies stating that if the city government could raise the minimum wage, they would have done it a long time ago. Yet ever since activists started petitioning to put the issue on the ballot Mike Rotkin has been one of its most vocal opponents.

Grass roots activists petitioned and got the 6,000 signatures that put Measure G on the ballot. Contributing to this effort financially was the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Those opposing measure G are mostly local businesses. Included among these is the Seaside Company (the super-exploitative employers at the Beach Boardwalk). They have contributed $7,300 to the campaign against measure G. Other rabid anti-poor businesses that have given money to defeat Measure G include Kelley’s Bakery’s donation of $2,000, the Santa Cruz Motel Hotel Association contributed $5,000, and the California Restaurant Association contributed $2,500. In addition the poverty pimps at Goodwill industries donated $1,000 against raising the minimum wage.

Another way that businesses are opposing the minimum wage increase is by putting up signs in their windows saying, “No on Measure G, it hurts family businesses”. Yeah, anti-racketeering laws also hurt “family” businesses and anti-slavery laws drove a few family plantations under. The point is if you can’t pay your workers remotely close to what it takes to live you shouldn’t be in business. Yet even a study commissioned by the anti-G Santa Cruz City Council showed that there would be very little impact on businesses or employment if measure G passes.

The businesses that are promoting this anti-worker message are now being boycotted. We ask that nobody under any circumstances buy anything from: Bookshop Santa Cruz, Kianti's, Hoffman's Bakery Café, Fresh Prep Kitchen (on Front Street), Bad Ass Coffee Company, Pacific Cookie Company, Rosie McCann's, The Hat Company, Rogue, Zoccoli's Deli, Cafe Brazil, Fedex Kinkos, Avanti's, Goodwill, Costa Brava Taqueria, Walnut Ave. Café, 99 Bottles of Beer, Kelley’s Bakery, and the Beach Boardwalk.

In addition Liberation News asks that nobody vote for Cynthia Matthews, Mike Rotkin, and Lynn Robinson. Liberation News cannot endorse Bruce Van Allen, Chriss Cobb, or Simba Kenyatta either, even though they may be slightly better than the “No on G” candidates, because we will not spread illusions in candidates that have no clear program for the kinds of far reaching changes that are needed in Santa Cruz.

Yes on G!

No on Cynthia Matthews, Mike Rotkin, and Lynn Robinson!

Liberation News:
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Mike Rotkin is full of socialist, civil rights and anti-war rhetoric. However, when push comes to shove, his record speaks to his interests --- namely, himself and monied interests.

Rotkin ran in 2002 on a platform to defund the Peace Park. However, after he was elected he wasted over $1,000,000.00 of city money, pushing for a Coast Hotel project that the community never wanted.

A wise person once said that a person may say many things, but it is only when you look at their spending that you can tell their true values.

Here are Mike Rotkin's values.....

Take a Look:

May 9, 2002

Ex-mayor jabs at council

Rotkin plans to run in fall

Sentinel staff writer
SANTA CRUZ — Three-time former mayor Mike Rotkin is accusing the City Council of having skewed priorities during a budget crisis — and he’s betting his political future that residents will agree.

Rotkin, an 18-year councilman, said it’s absurd that a downtown peace park, proposed for the Town Clock traffic island, is still on the table. The park, featuring a proposed wall containing debris from war and terrorist attacks around the globe, has drawn a wave of opposition since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"The peace park should have been killed dead, quickly, to make it clear the council doesn’t have $93,000 to play around with" during a time of looming $3 million to $4 million in cuts and the possible overturning of Santa Cruz’s 7 percent utility tax, Rotkin said Wednesday. The loss of the tax would mean about $8 million in lost revenue annually for Santa Cruz.

Rotkin, who began his political career calling himself a "socialist-feminist," said he will run for one of three open council seats this November, though the political filing period has yet to open. And he gave himself some wiggle room.

"I am not being coy," he said. "My plan is to run, but that’s different from saying I am putting together a committee. I haven’t declared formally."

It’s unclear who Rotkin would face in November. The terms of Mayor Christopher Krohn and councilmen Keith Sugar and Tim Fitzmaurice are ending, but none has announced a re-election campaign.

Sugar, reached Wednesday, said it’s too early to make an announcement, while neither Krohn nor Fitzmaurice could immediately be reached for comment.

Rotkin, termed out of office in 2000, said he has the experience to help steer the city out of dire financial straits by making tough but unavoidable decisions.

Krohn, Sugar and Fitzmaurice are all peace park backers, though Fitzmaurice voted with the council majority last month to delay funding the park at least until budget talks in June. Krohn and Sugar opposed deferring the decision.

Rotkin said he doubts the present council majority has the courage to make difficult cuts this June, and that the subsequent council would have to make most of the tough decisions.

Sugar said Rotkin’s early emphasis of the peace park is not an encouraging sign.

"I think anybody who runs on the basis of the peace park, for or against, doesn’t have much to say to the voters," Sugar said.

He said it’s unfair to cite the $93,000 figure. Sugar said Councilman Ed Porter recently made it clear that most of the money was going to be spent on improving the Town Clock area whether or not a park is built. He said just $6,000 of the $93,000 would be for the wall and other peace park hallmarks.

Rotkin questioned this accounting, accusing some council members of "playing games" with the figures by lumping in peace park costs with infrastructure work.

"I’m sorry, but people are not that stupid," Rotkin said.

You're right, Mike. They really aren't that stupid.

Rotkin also criticized council members for even considering "wasting $20,000" to remove the much-criticized River Street sign, which cost $83,000 in state and local money. Rotkin was part of the council that approved the project unanimously in 1996. The project was delayed and finally built in September.

Sugar said the council never intended to spend money to take the sign down. If anything, he said, the council had expressed interest in an offer to take the sign down for free, and a $10,000 bid to buy the sign on eBay. The city has deferred deciding the sign’s fate at least until summer of 2003.

Rotkin, 56, is a UC Santa Cruz lecturer and field study coordinator in the community studies program, which encourages students to work for social services and social change groups.

He helped found the Santa Cruz Action Network, an influential progressive group, but formally split from SCAN when it snubbed Cynthia Mathews during her 1996 re-election campaign.

He served on the council starting in March 1979. After nearly 10 years in office, he took four years off. He was re-elected in 1992 and served until November 2000, when local term limits forced him off the council.

Rotkin was an early greenbelt proponent. But he can part company, dramatically sometimes, with other progressives.

"Mike is one of those progressives who realize that occasionally, reality intrudes," said Councilman Scott Kennedy, who added that Rotkin has more political experience than Krohn, Fitzmaurice and Sugar combined.

Rotkin sparked anger from homeless activists when he opposed altering the camping ban to allow camping in industrial areas, saying it made much more sense to expand indoor facilities. He said other cities that set up camping zones faced overcrowding, sanitation and safety troubles.

He vocally supported the Beach Area Plan of development, saying it would result in many union jobs. The plan would have put a conference center at the La Bahia building, expanded the Boardwalk and realigned Third Street.

The Beach Plan outraged some progressives who said it would create sprawl, displace low-income residents and lead to traffic snarls.

Fitzmaurice, Krohn and Sugar all won their council seats after campaigning to defeat that plan. They had key organizational help from Doug Rand, possible namesake for the downtown peace park and a foe of the Beach Area Plan.

I am on social security disability due to Muscular Dystrophy and I take care of my wife who has Scleroderma and only gets her retirement income...we can't work at anything to supplement our income due to physical check when divided by 160 hours which is a normal work month...comes out to around $4.75 hr...factor in inflation, the devalued dollar on world markets, increases in cost of food, fuel and health care and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that we are hurting big time...after the mortgage and health care premiums...we have little remaining...$150 per month for food including one meal out...$50 per month for fuel...and whatever is left goes to all the insurances, taxes, utilities, clothing, medical equipment and so forth...because of all of this...our buying power has been cut almost in half in the last several years, we have no more savings, hold a weekly yardsale of whatever we can dig up around the house that's remaining and typically run out of money by the end of the first week of the month and food about a week short of the end of the month...I try to grow vegetables and hit up the local food banks but they are getting hit hard too with ever-increasing numbers of poor and middle-class families in similar situations to us...

I support not only increasing the minimum wage but also taking a look at adjusting disability benefits so that they reflect at least a symbolic attempt to maintain sufficient incomes for those who cannot otherwise raise needed funds, re-enter the workforce or have any other resources remaining to offset the negative forces in our household budgets...seniors, disabled, Veterans and single parent households are in terrible shape these days...and we are being ignored like a bunch of Blacks in Florida voting Indians on a Reservation...the survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita...or like tens of thousands of active duty service persons who have been wounded in illegal wars...

Mike Price
Disabled Navy Veteran 1968-76
Wolf Clan Saco Tribe of the Abenaki Nation
by Gloria

I appreciate your candor and your generosity of spirit that allows you to see beyond your own hardships, but also sees those of others -- even when they aren't as difficult as your own.

You're right --- we've got a lot of people who've been given the shaft. We need to join together and with each for positive.

Here's to a new minimum wage ordinance and for a determination to address longstanding issues with pathetic disability payments and workers comp. in California!

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