In a stunning move to stifle democracy and keep voters in the dark, the City of Chula Vista has prevented the argument against Measure E from appearing on the March ballot. Therefore, only the arguments in favor of Measure E will be available for voters when deciding whether to support or oppose the measure.
What is Measure E?
The official language of the measure is the following:
“Shall the measure to preserve the City’s ability to receive state infrastructure funding for public works projects by giving the City discretion to allow the use of project labor agreements for City public works, in a manner consistent with state laws and best practices, including provisions for taxpayer protections, transparency, and accountability in the contracting process, by repealing and replacing Chapter 2.59 of the Chula Vista Municipal Code, be adopted?”
Okay, so what does that mean?
Measure E would severely limit the authority Chula Vista has over its own public works projects by deferring funding authority to the state of California. Chula Vista voters passed Measure G in 2010, which allowed non-union contractors to perform public works projects without being discriminated against. The ability of employees to choose whether to work with unions is fundamental to personal liberty and the attempt to terminate such a right is an assault on the working class.
The repeal of Chapter 2.59 of the Chula Vista Municipal Code would effectively eliminate the fair and open competition that currently exists regarding the City’s public works. The current code protects and promotes competition by extending the contractual opportunities to private and public entities, which has lowered production costs while improving the quality of various development projects including buildings, roads, streets, parks, playgrounds, water systems, irrigation systems, sewers, and the stormwater conveyance system. The passage of this measure would result in less autonomy for Chula Vista while subjecting public works projects to unnecessary costs, regulations, and delays.
How and why did Chula Vista prevent the argument from appearing on the ballot?
There’s quite a bit to flesh out here, but we’ll try to be concise. Ballot measure arguments for every city in San Diego County—and for the County itself—were scheduled to be due on Thursday, December 12. Since local politics is a relentless endeavor, most individuals and organizations tend to wait until the due date to submit their arguments for the ballot. This may sound like the grown-up version of student procrastination, but it’s standard practice. Some things never change, right?
On December 5, just one week before ballot measure arguments were due, Chula Vista decided to change its deadline from December 12 to December 11. They did so without informing voters, local organizations, or elected officials. On December 12, Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann went to file the ballot argument against Measure E—only to find out that he was too late. And because McCann was “late” in filing the argument against Measure E, he was also prevented from submitting the rebuttal to the argument in favor of the measure. The city didn’t even notify the City Council of the deadline change, showing just how convoluted the entire endeavor was.
One can speculate all kinds of reasons why Chula Vista would engage in such a blatant assault on the democratic process. At best, it was a rushed, imprudent decision to expedite the submission process of ballot measure arguments. At worst, it was an insanely corrupt and motivated attack on democracy in an attempt to suppress certain arguments from appearing on the ballot. This seems plausible given that some inevitably knew about the change, which may include the labor union groups who fought hard against Measure G in 2010 and are back in full force to support Measure E. In either case, this is simply unacceptable and needs to be called out as such.
It’s unclear where things will go from here. If Chula Vista proceeds as it appears they will, then labor unions and their Democratic allies may have outdone themselves in subjugating democracy in order to advance their own ambitions. This sort of cronyism is how cities, states, and nations are undermined and destroyed. Usually not all at once, but slowly and incrementally until people simply accept the corruption as the new status quo.
Will Chula Vista voters capitulate to the interests of Big Labor or take a stand for basic tenets of liberty and democracy? Time will tell.