LIVING WAGE IS DEFEATED BY HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY-Andrew Stelzer

06/16/04

Today the county commission voted against adopting a living wage for county employees and people who contract with the county. The grassroots campaign for a living wage has been taking place for the last two years. Last week there were presentations made to the commission both in favor and against the adopting a living wage to 997 per hour. WMNFS Andrew Stelzer has more

There was no public testimony scheduled today on the issue, but during the morning’s session, when the public is allowed to comment on any issue, several people spoke for and against the living wage.

Dr Willard Lee, the president of HOPE, the organization which led the campaign for the living wage, told the commission that some statistics presented by David Rogoff, the head of the county social services, in his recommendation against adopting a living wage, were incorrect.

ACT LEE “Mr. Rogoff stated…

Brad Swanson a representative of the greater Tampa chamber of commerce, spoke in opposition to the living wage, and instead advocated for eth solution recommended by the counties task force, such as more affordable transportation, healthcare, housing, and promoting the earned income tax credit.

ACT-CHAMBER “The chambers position is 3-fold

But Lori Davis, a small business owner and a member of the chamber of commerce says she didn’t agree with the chambers position.

ACT-DAVIS ‘This town is all about economic development, and you cant have that without living wages. The things recommended should already be happening anyway.

This afternoon, in debate before the vote, Commissioner Tom Scott, in supporting the living wage, said he wanted this to be part of his legacy, as he thought serving the public meant making the peoples lives better.

ACT-SCOTT “I will tell you that we all make more than this.

Commissioner Hagan voted against the living wage, stating that he thought there were better ways to help the working poor. Commissioner Frank, who supported the wage, said the arguments Commissioner Hagan based his decision on, were invalid.

ACT-FRANK

Commissioner Castor also supported the measure, saying it was one small strep the county could take. Unfortunately she, said, state law prevent s the county from raising all wages county wide, but the county employees would be a good first step.

Commissioner Storms spoke about her past, when she was poor and working for less than 3 dollars an hour. She said that experience taught her how to improve ones self.

ACT-STORMS The reason why I mentor young women…

Commissioner Platt and Norman also both voted against the living wage. Norman, basing his decision on the studies presented by a county task force, which said it would cost the county more than 10 million dollars. These statistics were disputed by commissioner Scott, as was the statement that Broward County thought their living wage has damaged the county’s economy. Scott said he called a Broward county administrator they said it their living wage has been a good thing, but Hillsborough county administrator Pat Bean, who was repeatedly questioned by Jan Platt, said Broward had told her the costs of raising wages have cost Broward county millions of dollars

The 4 to 3 vote against the living wage was followed by a proposal to send a letter to congress to raise the federal minimum wage. Doctor Willard Lee, from HOPE said this is a futile and insulting act.

ACT LEE 2

Lee also vowed the campaign is not over.

The county commission also discussed a proposal to limit what the public can speak on at the beginning of meetings. Currently a member of the public can speak on any issue; but last month, Mark Klutho, who comments almost every week, called county attorney Don Odem “boy�, a possible reference to Odem being black. In reaction, the commission has proposed to limit public comment to items on the agenda.

The commission backpedaled on this idea, several commissioners said it was going to far and also held discussion on proposals to change their rules as they relate to public discussion. Currently a member of the public can speak on any issue; but last month, Mark Klutho, who comments almost every week, called county attorney Don Odem “boy�, a possible reference to Odem being black. In reaction, the commission has proposed to limit public comment to items on the agenda. Several people, including Chris Hart a veteran who cam to the commission meeting to comment on another issue, spoke this morning in opposition to new rules, saying that they would violate freedom of speech.

ACT HART

The commission approved a resolution to allow the chair to expel someone who made racist remarks or remarks or violent threats, and if they person made the remarks a second time, the chair could suspend their right to make public comment for two weeks. The county’s attorney will be checking to make sure that it will be legal for the commission to enact this rule.

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