Oops! Half a million bucks later, the local folks who fought hard against a boost in the minimum wage now seem to be accepting defeat after forcing the issue to the ballot box.

“They didn’t change their minds on the policy — they still don’t like it,” VOSD’s Andrew Keatts reports. “They just aren’t sure trying to win over voters will amount to anything but throwing good money after bad.”

The measure would initially boost the minimum wage to $11.50 in the city, give workers five sick days a year and link future increases to inflation beginning in 2019. Polls suggest residents like the idea of helping workers make more money despite bitter complaints and warnings from restaurant owners and others.

So was it a big waste of money to push the issue onto the ballot? Well, maybe not: “Even if the coalition fails to overturn the increase — or to even mount a substantive campaign to do so — it will have nonetheless managed to delay for nearly 20 months the series of wage increases outlined in the ordinance.”

Do Council Members Deserve a Raise?

“A city commission is asking San Diego elected officials to approve a package of ethics reforms and sign a pledge to follow the changes even if they never become law,” KPBS reports. Among the proposed changes: Council members, who’ve gone years without a major raise, would have their pay tied to the salaries of judges. This would allow raises and, the thinking goes, coax better-qualified people into running for office.

Attorney Bob Ottilie, chair of the Salary Setting Commission, added this zinger: “no one on the salary commission believes the current council deserves a raise.” Pay raises will go into effect in 2021.

The commission wants other changes too, like a limit of $25 on gifts to city elected officials, no more car allowances and more. The U-T has more details. There’s no word yet on what the Council thinks.

• Here’s a political surprise: Ed Harris, a lifeguard union official and former interim city councilman, has pulled the paperwork to run for mayor. He’s a Democrat and could potentially face the incumbent, Kevin Faulconer, and Lori Saldaña, the former assemblywoman.

Harris is said to support the Briggs/Chargers plan for a football stadium.

• The City Council has agreed to fund a program that aims to help 1,000 homeless vets. We’ve explored how San Diego has lagged behind other communities on this front.

Opinion: One Paseo’s Lessons

In a VOSD commentary, entrepreneur and City Council candidate Barbara Bry looks back at the row over the mammoth One Paseo project in Carmel Valley and ponders its lessons about community planning: “we should make the process faster, fairer and friendlier for everyone involved.”

Bry argues that community plans — blueprints that guide growth in neighborhoods throughout the city — must be updated regularly, and that their objective should be “to protect the character and quality of life in our neighborhoods, provide a meaningful and productive way for community members to participate in the future of their neighborhoods and reduce uncertainty in the development process.”

Finally, a ‘Storm Door’ Opens Wide

Rain is coming next weekend (finally!) after the hottest (and nearly the driest) February in recorded history. (AccuWeather/KPBS) More weather news: The state snowpack is dwindling, and water officials are raising the alarm about the need to conserve.

“After what felt like a deluge, and what felt like a massive snowfall, we now find ourselves at about average for this time of year,” the state’s water chief tells the L.A. Times. “Obviously, the hot and dry February is disheartening for everyone. It feels weird.”

Meanwhile, enjoy this flashback of photos of El Niño flooding in Mission Beach in 1983, courtesy of Vintage San Diego.

Culture Report: History on the Wall

This week’s VOSD Culture Report leads off with details about a new local history display at the San Diego County Administration Center, which is a historical treasure itself.

Also in the Culture Report: A better reception for nonprofits at Horton Plaza Park, more and more coffee, cured meats, burlesque dancers, local transgressions and cannibalism (not connected to the cured meats or the dancers, as far as we know).

• Shhh! Southern California cars are sleeping! Zzzzz … vroom vroom vroom. Zzzz … vroom vroom vroom. (LA Times)

Quick News Hits: Filling a Donut Hole

• Downtown’s Horton Plaza Park has a grand opening date after its $17 million redo: May 4. Water will flow in the 1910 fountain for the first time in 8 years. (U-T)

• A former executive tells KPBS that the local YMCA system is still a mess, months after a consultant’s investigation found “no financial fraud, no unlawful discrimination and no programs and initiatives inconsistent with the mission of the YMCA.”

KPBS reports that sources say “around 25 executive directors and other senior managers have resigned or been forced out of the YMCA in recent years. More than half of them were bilingual minorities.” Some YMCA board have quit in disgust too. The YMCA isn’t talking.

• A new national report identifies communities that are struggling economically. Locally, National City and Imperial Beach are having trouble, as are the rural communities of Warner Springs and Dulzura, but the region as a whole is doing well: “Overall, the city has a low housing vacancy rate, low poverty rate and few San Diegans lack a high school degree.” (U-T)

• No, gas prices didn’t zoom up by 30 cents as predicted, although they’re up a smidgen. (Times of SD)

• San Diego’s Donut Bar is expanding to Las Vegas, where it will replace “a failed, local doughnut experience,” says the Eater blog.

In a related story, Failed Donut Experience is the name of my new band and my new bestselling diet book.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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