Reading the Tea Leaves - Ly For Elk Grove City Council

August 3, 2014 | Like his main opponent for the Elk Grove City Council District 4 seat, Steve Ly's financial disclosures filed ...

August 3, 2014 |

Like his main opponent for the Elk Grove City Council District 4 seat, Steve Ly's financial disclosures filed with the Elk Grove City Clerk's office can give voters an indication how he might behave if elected.

For Ly, the most revealing donations are the four he received from Laborers Local 185 PAC ($1,500), Local Union No. 340 IBEW PAC ($600), Northern California Carpenters Regional Council ($750), and Schetter Electric. While the three labor union donations of $2,850 don't match Chaires single labor donation of $5,000 received United Food Commercial Food Workers, they are telling.

The three unions, as well as Schetter Electric, all are interested in keeping their members working. Since the three labor organizations are in the construction trades, the only way members work is if structures are being constructed. 

In Elk Grove the tie-in is obvious. With the city is working on final planning for the SEPA, construction on new developments is looming. The question is how soon will it begin and will the city follow through on its promise to focus of developing the area as jobs center or succumb to developers and build more rooftops once the demand builds?

Aside from the SEPA, the bigger prize for developers and trade union employees is the city's dormant, but not dead, sphere of influence (SOI) application. Although the city was denied last fall, by withdrawing the application before the formal vote was taken, the city can go back to the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Committee with its current application when a more developer-friendly group of commissioners is seated.

So voters can reasonably expect Ly to be amenable to real estate developers hoping to continue the suburban sprawl that defines Elk Grove. Of course, Ly will probably defend the position using the veneer of supporting well-paying jobs vis-a-vis unions, but the results will be the same.

There is one other less obvious aspect the construction trade unions support of council members can have, and it is through project labor agreements (PLA). A PLA is essentially an arrangement between a public agency, such as the city of Elk Grove, and labor unions to assure that construction on any publicly funded project is build by union members. 

Furthermore, the city can tie PLA's if they so desire, to the approval of private-funded construction projects. The Sacramento City Council, at the behest of unions who threatened a CEQA lawsuit, did this in approving the Promenade project in the Natomas and a host of other projects there. 

Should the city continue to pursue the aquatics center, and by some outside chance start construction on the proposed $120 million taxpayer-funded professional soccer stadium, you can be well assured that construction of the facilities will have a project labor agreement if the unions have their way with the city council. Ly will naturally be obliged to support PLA's for these publicly funded projects.

While supporting well-paying jobs for union members is commendable, will Ly support low-wage retail and fast food workers that populate the bottom end of Elk Grove's work force? To get his support, will they need to some how pool their limited discretionary funds and make a donation to his campaign?

So we ask Ly the Walmart question posed to Chaires - would he be willing to support a city wide minimum wage that exceeds the states current wage? 

Our guess is probably not. While both Chaires and Ly are more than willing to take money from union bosses, until low-wage workers that Democratic candidates allegedly support can pool their money, both are likely to tell low-wage workers in Elk Grove, "don't call us, we'll call you."

And one final note, like Chaires, Ly has a McDonald's benefactor. In this case, Ly received $1,000 from C.C. Yin of Vacaville, who according to the filing is a McDonald's owners. 

Although Yin is not known to have any Elk Grove outlets, like local McDonald's operator and Chaires supporter Steve Ramirez, he is not likely to support lifting the adult-dominated work force that now make up most fast food workers.

Score another victory for McDonald's and Walmart.



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