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Wolk, Krovoza order up minimum wage city ‘inbox’

By From page A1 | April 16, 2014

A campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Davis seems to be losing steam going for the ballot box, but it picked up some support at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Local activist Bernie Goldsmith admitted Tuesday it is “increasingly unlikely” that he will be successful in his bid to collect 7,000 signatures to place a proposal on the November ballot to raise the minimum wage in Davis from $8 per hour to $15.

But he made one request to the council that was granted late Tuesday night after practically everyone — including Goldsmith — had left the chamber: establish an online inbox for the public, academics studying wage increases and the business community to weigh in on the issue.

Goldsmith also wants the city to start studying the impact of the minimum wage proposal if it were passed by voters. The city has that option but usually exercises it only with initiatives that already have qualified for the ballot.

“We’ve discussed engaging academics and economists on what a $15 minimum wage would mean to workers, business, the economy,” Goldsmith said during public comment.

The council does not respond directly to issues presented during public comment, but has the option of including public comment requests on its long-range calendar discussion at the tail end of the meeting.

Goldsmith’s idea was supported at first by Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, who is running for state Assembly. Mayor Joe Krovoza, who also is running for Assembly, supported Wolk’s idea.

“I just think if people want to give us information, we’ll just keep it all in one place,” City Attorney Harriet Steiner told Wolk.

Krovoza then said he thought the idea was to make the inbox more interactive, that it would be a shared piece of community knowledge.

Other council members did not oppose the idea as city staff promised to fulfill the request. The matter, as is customary with long-range calendar items, did not come to a vote.

“I thought it was just a prop,” Councilman Lucas Frerichs said of Goldsmith’s idea.

The only voice seemingly opposed to the idea was Chamber of Commerce CEO Kemble Pope, who spoke a short while after Goldsmith during public comment to introduce brochures welcoming people to Davis and Davis businesses.

Pope said he would be remiss if he did not also address Goldsmith and his campaign.

“I’ve shopped at two or three supermarkets,” he said. “I have not seen a petition.”

Pope also said his requests to meet with the campaign leaders and get more information about the goals of the campaign have been met with silence.

“It’s been more of a monologue, not a dialogue,” he said, adding that in the meantime, the Chamber’s members have been sharing their concerns with the City Council.

Academic studies are numerous about the effects of a higher minimum wage, with esteemed economists on both sides of the issue.

UC Berkeley economics professor Robert Reich, who was the secretary of labor during the Clinton administration, has recently taken to the Internet to promote the idea of a national $15 minimum wage. It’s part of his plan to reduce income inequality through what he says are historically proven ideas.

But there are many studies that show increased inflation and job losses as a result of even modest raises in the minimum wage. The National Bureau of Economic Research showed that out of a study of 100 studies of raises in the minimum wage, 85 percent showed negative effects on the economy.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

Dave Ryan

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