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Home / Blogs / Last Blog on Earth
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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2011 - Last Blog on Earth | News

DeMaio makes labor his scapegoat

Blames scaled-back 'Road Repair Rally' on complaints from unions

By Kelly Davis
roadrepairrally DeMaio talks street repair on KUSI

Last week I blogged about San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio's Scripps Ranch "Road Repair Rally" and how his office had failed to address labor and liability issues prior to the event. On April 19, during his regular Tuesday appearance on KUSI's morning show, DeMaio said the nonprofit Alpha Project was "under contract" to help fill potholes and that city crews would supervise the work. As I reported, this was news to both Alpha Project and the city. While Alpha Project had told DeMaio's office that they'd be interested in sending crews out to assist with one of his Road Repair Rallies, they'd never been given a date and never signed a contract.

Two days before the rally, the City Attorney's office sent DeMaio a memo saying that the rally wasn't a city-sanctioned event and, as such, the city wouldn't be liable for any injuries or other damages resulting from the event.

"In addition," the memo from Assistant City Attorney Mary Jo Lanzafame said, "we need to point out that all laws and necessary processes, permits and authorizations must be met as would be the case for any private work conducted in the public right-of-way."

(DeMaio also claimed on KUSI that they'd be using donated gravel to fill potholes. But, his office had not, at that point, followed the procedures outlined in City Council policy to accept donated materials.)

DeMaio scaled down the event. Volunteers walked the streets of Scripps Ranch and documented potholes. Then he appeared on KUSI this past Tuesday and blamed the labor unions. (Not to mention jabbing CityBeat for producing "not the highest quality of journalism." Scroll to around 4:00 on the video.)

"We were going to fill potholes with the Alpha Project, but guess what happened? Right after I appeared on this show, the labor unions cried foul. They said, 'Wait a minute. That work should be done by labor union city employees and if you're going to give it to volunteers, you must first enter labor negotiations.'

"Now, Dan," DeMaio said to host Dan Plante, "this is why the city is broken. You have volunteers willing to help their community; you have a nonprofit willing to pitch in... and you have the labor unions at City Hall saying 'No.'"

But did labor unions really complain?

* I asked Lorena Gonzalez, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, if anyone from her organization complained. "No. We left it alone," she said.

* I asked Damian Tryon from AFSCME Local 127, which represents city road workers, if he'd contacted the city. He told me no—no one from AFSCME had complained.

* Rachel Laing, a spokesperson for Mayor Jerry Sanders, said no one from the labor unions contacted the Mayor's office.

* I asked Gina Coburn, spokesperson for the City Attorney's office, if anyone from labor had complained. "No," she said. "The purpose of the memo was to do what lawyers are supposed to do."

* And, finally, Hasan Yousef, deputy director of the city's Streets Division, confirmed that no one from labor had contacted anyone in his department, either.

I've asked DeMaio's office to offer up evidence to prove us wrong: emails, memos, a contract. So far, no response.

Write to kellyd@sdcitybeat.com


 
 
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