San Diego Competition and Transparency in City Contracting Initiative (November 2010)

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A San Diego Competition and Transparency in City Contracting Initiative, also known as the DeMaio Initiative, was proposed for but did not ultimately appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot in San Diego County for voters in the City of San Diego.[1]

The ballot measure, if it qualifies for the ballot, would authorize the City of San Diego to outsource some city services to private contractors.

Supporters of the initiative say they were motivated to collect signatures to put it on the ballot by the refusal of the San Diego City Council in 2009 to implement provisions of Proposition C, enacted by San Diego's voters in 2006.


City Councilman Carl DeMaio is a leader of the group that wants the measure on the ballot.

The Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors and National Association of Minority Contractors also support the potential initiative.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Californians for Fiscal Responsibility announced their endorsements of the measure in June.[2]


Opponents include San Diego City Council members Marti Emerald, Donna Frye and Todd Gloria. They held a press conference in June where they said that the initiative, if enacted, amounts to a repeal of the living-wage ordinance in effect in the city.

The living-wage ordinance applies to contractors who do business with the city. They are required to pay more than the minimum wage and they are required to provide health care benefits to their employees so that employees earn a basic minimum of approximately $13/hour. The living-wage ordinance was enacted in 2005.[3]

City council member Marti Emerald said on radio station KPBS in June that the real intent of the measure is to:

"…create minimum wage jobs with no benefits so that we can line the pockets of Mr. DeMaio’s friends in big business. This is about maximizing profits to big contractors who are lining up at the government trough right now."[4]

Protestors, including one garbed in a Pinocchio-themed costume, materialized at the press conference held by initiative supporters to announce that they were submitting the signatures required to qualify the measure for the November ballot. A San Diego police officer had to separate the protestors from those carrying boxes of signatures in order to allow the signatures to be carried into the building and filed. Protestors concluded their event by breaking into the 1960's civil rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome."[5]

Path to the ballot


  • DeMaio begins gathering signatures in 2009 after the San Diego City Council votes to block implementation of an initiative voters approved in 2006 that allows private companies to bid to perform city services.[3]
  • June 14: DeMaio turned in over 130,000 signatures to election officials to qualify the measure for the November ballot.[6]
  • June 28: the San Diego County Registrar of Voters announced that a check of the signatures indicated that insufficient valid signatures had been turned in to qualify the measure for the ballot. A random sampling test looked at 3% of the signatures, or 4,033 signatures. This test found that 3,212 were signatures of registered voters and 30 of the signatures were duplicates. Applying a formula, they decided that only 74,732 of the 134,441 submitted signatures, or 55%, are valid.[7]
  • June 29: It is announced that DeMaio has the option of requesting a full check of the signatures. This would cost about $150,000, and these costs would have to be paid by the supporters of the initiative. The county wouldn't look at the signatures until and unless DeMaio's group pays the signature validation costs in advance. This puts supporters of the measure in a time bind, since August 6 is the deadline for certifying a measure for the November ballot.[8]
  • July 1: DeMaio announces that he will fight to have the signatures validated, writing in a letter to City Clerk Liz Maland: "Every San Diegan who signed this petition desires to reform their city government -- and every signature should therefore be counted. As such, we hereby request that the process for determining the sufficiency of the petition provide for an immediate (and) full count of every signature submitted."[9]

See also

External links