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Under Pressure, L.A. Times Shifts Coverage of Minimum Wage

Under Pressure, L.A. Times Shifts Coverage of Minimum Wage

There has been a noticeable shift in coverage of the Los Angeles minimum wage debate by the local media in recent days, moving from a default embrace of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s election-year proposal to growing anxiety of the lack of debate in the city about the proposal. The shift in coverage appears to coincide with a media campaign launched by Capitol Media Partners, the home of conservative foreign policy guru Richard Grenell. 

Late last week, Capitol Media Partners released a YouTube video (below) bemoaning the lack of debate about the mayor’s proposals, which coincide with a national push by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, who have sought to make the minimum wage issue central to the midterm elections. Congress–including the Democrat-controlled Senate–has resisted Obama’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.

Recently, other Democrat-run cities have raised their minimum wages more dramatically than Obama’s $9 and $10 proposals. Seattle has raised its minimum wage to $15, and San Francisco voters will decide on a similar measure Nov. 4. The Democrat-dominated city council in San Diego overrode the veto of GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer and hiked the minimum wage over $13–only to have opponents put the issue on the 2016 ballot.

In the background are the state’s own minimum wage hikes under Gov. Jerry Brown, who raised the minimum wage to $9 in 2014 and $10 next year, despite the continued weakness of California’s overall business climate.

The reaction of business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, has followed a similar pattern in each city: outrage and surprise, followed by compliance and co-optation. 

In San Francisco, for example, the Chamber agreed to support a “consensus” minimum wage hike that would raise the level more slowly than unions had proposed. Meanwhile, business owners are considering their options–including cutting jobs, or closing.

In L.A., a minimum wage hike to $13 or even $15 has seemed inevitable. On Sep. 14, the Times published an editorial praising Garcetti’s $13-plus proposal, even if it would not be a panacea for L.A.’s economic challenges.

Then, just a few days ago–and after Capitol Media Partners launched its video–the Times editorial board appears to have had second thoughts, in an article entitled, “L.A. City Council should take time to get minimum wage hike right.” 

The editors note: “The call for more study shouldn’t be seen as a stall tactic or an attempt to water down this important anti-poverty measure. It makes sense to analyze the potential impacts and to think about possible ways to lessen negative consequences.”

The Times‘ David Zahniser published an article on Monday noting the lack of opposition–and even debate–in the city council over an issue that could have a significant impact on the local economy, and that some leaders quietly fear could force some local businesses to relocate. “With organized labor regularly getting its way on the council floor, even those politicians who hold dissenting views have been keeping their thoughts to themselves.”

Grenell told Breitbart News that he created the video “100% free,” largely because of frustration at the lack of any real resistance to the hikes. “Our goal for doing the video was to push the business community to fight. To give them some of the messages. I don’t have time to lead this fight but I felt compelled to do something.” 

Zahniser declined to comment for this article.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak

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