KAPLAN: An appeal to our City Council

Tonight our city council will consider an ordinance that will increase the minimum wage in our city by 26% in just a six month period. Such a massive and abrupt increase would be a difficult challenge for most businesses in the best of times. And clearly, with all of the losses incurred and the issues still facing our businesses as a result of the pandemic it is far, very far in fact, from the best of times.

Several of our council members have proclaimed that this increase is a fundamental strategy for social justice. They are wrong. They either have no understanding of the core mission of social justice and/or they have simply co-opted the term to attach themselves to a movement that will drive their popularity or political careers.

There are four integrated principles of social justice: equity, access, participation and rights. To achieve the objectives of social justice, in simpler terms, we must aim to level the playing field and insure more open access to economic equality and success. This proposed minimum wage ordinance certainly does not meet the criteria of social justice. Rather, it is akin to putting a piece of tape over the puncture hole you found on your tire and proclaiming it to be fixed. It won’t take very long for the air to leak out of that tire.

This increase merely seeks to transfer income from the business owner who has invested time and money to establish a business and continue to operate.  Think for a minute about what this means to the small business. 

For Tara Punzone who came from New York to West Hollywood to open Pura Vita because she found a community that shared her social values and embraced her, the increase may mean having to cut hours or eliminate jobs among the staff that has become family.  Or it may mean forfeiting her dream entirely when she can no longer afford this cost of labor increase added to the losses of the past two years and the increased costs of nearly everything resulting from the global supply chain crisis. 

Raj Sannidhi came to West Hollywood to operate Capitol Drugs because he saw the need and the opportunity to provide very personalized service and guidance to a community facing the complexities of HIV/AIDS management. It was this chance to help people that first drove him to become a pharmacist.  But with this increase his options to keep his doors open here become very limited. He cannot simply adjust prices to cover the increased labor costs because those prices are regulated by the insurance industry.  So he has to decide whether to continue operations with very little, if any, profit or move his business outside our 1.9 square miles. 

And what about the young LGBT kid or the minority owners with a creative new business concept that want to be a part of this city that they believe to hold values of acceptance and inclusiveness?  How do you, with any moral backbone, convince them to choose West Hollywood to open their doors when the cost of labor here, now significantly higher than any of our surrounding areas, will pose a very real threat to their ability to survive even their first year in business.   How does any of this fall under the umbrella of social justice? In fact, what this ordinance will do is limit access and opportunities for economic advancement and success and perhaps even worse, eliminate jobs in the process.

If our council really does want to make their mark in creating meaningful programs to achieve the objectives of social justice they need to focus on ideas that encourage small business, open up opportunities for minorities and the LGBT community, help the guy who has a great idea but lacks the experience or the capital to succeed on his own. 

They need to create a community where business can thrive without the threat of crime and homelessness to keep customers away or threaten their team’s safety and security. And they don’t want to ignore the needs of our residents, more than 20% of whom live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the price increases that will be imposed on them if this huge wage increase goes into effect this quickly. 

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Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago

The playing field is level. It’s made unlevel by communists passing these ridiculous laws and playing favorites with certain industries /businesses.

Last edited 27 days ago by Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
hifi5000
hifi5000
1 month ago

I think raising current wages will do much damage to the smaller businesses in the city.This move will force the small businesses to cut staff and perhaps drive them out of West Hollywood.

I think the city council needs to rethink this new ordinance and maybe limit the wage increases to certain job positions with skilled workers.Unskilled workers could get a similar increase,but not as large as skilled workers.Let’s do this first and if it doesn’t work out,think of another approach that would work.

C.R.
C.R.
1 month ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Nope. This was long overdue at this point, these business owners should be thankful they got away with it this long. Kicking the can down the road is lazy, if not useless government.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  C.R.

Do…you know how to run a business?

Joan Henehan
Joan Henehan
1 month ago

As Mr. Kaplan wisely observes, the practical business owner is being given little alternative but to move their business out of the City of West Hollywood by the actions of naive, faux “Progressives” on the City Council. Their ignorant, misbegotten policies and failures to act upon issues that require true leadership skills are destroying what better minds constructed. The West Hollywood Dream is being strangled.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  Joan Henehan

There’s nothing faux about these fools. This is the inevitable March to Progress!™️ and we’re being keelhauled.

Stevie
Stevie
1 month ago

No uneducated burger flipper, cashier or hotel maid deserves this pay. If they want to be paid better they should better themselves by learning a trade.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie

Yes, enable them to stay right where they are by making them comfortable enough that they don’t need to try harder to do more. Because, of course, they’re all too stupid to do anything more so we will show compassion by taking care of them, and we’ll then feel oh so much better about ourselves for having done so.

Noblesse oblige! (look it up)

C.R.
C.R.
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie

Nope, those days of taking advantage of the labor of those at the bottom are over, and it’s long overdue. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted and invested well from it. If you don’t like it, that’s a YOU problem now.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  C.R.

Does CR stand for communist revolutionary?

vote them out
vote them out
1 month ago

Lindsey Horvath benefits from this obscene hike to the minimum wage as it gets her publicity for her race for supervisor of LA. Unethical Erickson will brag to his supporters that he hurt business owners and helped his friends. I don’t know why Shlepi went along with this, but it’s a damn shame.

Robin
Robin
1 month ago
Reply to  vote them out

Don’t worry – Lindsey’s “publicity” antics aren’t reaching far outside West Hollywood. She’ll never win:

C.R.
C.R.
1 month ago

There’s a lot of attempted heartstring pulls in this story, but none of them are as strong as the one for long overdue fairer wages. The colder fact is regarding small businesses is that if they can’t afford fair wages for employees, they simply should not be in business. Owning a business is not the right move for you. If these same businesses can thrive outside of West Hollywood, they likely don’t have that strong of a connection to the specific neighborhood here anyways. This wage increase may seem like a burden to some businesses to be happening at this… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  C.R.

Then why not a $25 minimum wage? At what point do even you say that’s too much?

C.R.
C.R.
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

How about at the point where we also say what’s too much to be paid at the top of the ladder? Sounds good to me, glad we cleared that up.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  C.R.

Spoken like a true socialist!

Most new businesses fail, but those who are willing to take on the risk and sink everything they have and work really hard to make a business successful deserve the reward when it works. At which time most of these entrepreneurs go on to expand or start another business and employ even more people.

What would the incentive be to go through all that if the business owner is going to be limited in some arbitrary top reward (decided by whom?) if he is TOO successful?

C.R.
C.R.
29 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

I guess there would be no incentive if they can’t bear to live with potential limitations as opposed to letting greed dictate their actions at the expense of their workers. Oh well. Keep kicking that horse, but it’s dead now.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  C.R.

Yes, let’s limit people’s ability to grow. Sounds good, homes.

Stevie
Stevie
1 month ago

Again the liberal hypocrites of the City Council want to raise the minimum wage when they have a job posting on the city’s website paying less then their “living wage.” When will the liberal hypocrisy of the residents end in not calling out their socialist leaders?

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago

Once again, the council acts with an imperious arrogance that it alone has the wisdom, background, analytical skill or common-sense to engage in sound municipal governance all while flipping the finger at any input by small businesses or the chamber of commerce, on which the council seems to have declared war. They are proving themselves incapable of doing the right thing at the right speed with the right consensus among all stakeholders. The objectionable component to this proposal is not lifting wages, it is the fact that it will result in a very real carve-out in this tiny 1.9 square… Read more »

Arbitrary Decisions
Arbitrary Decisions
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Listening to the council exude the appearance of knowledge, logic and reason progress to arbitrary opinions was mind boggling. This ordinance was apparently shaped by City Manager Wilson, John Leonard and others but where was the model to be scrutinized by unbiased individuals with real expertise before descending into the hands of city council? During a time where most businesses in WeHo have barely gotten their post pandemic bearings is unrealistic and witnessing them carve up the proverbial pie at the end was shocking. None of these individuals have been or are responsible for running a business of any description… Read more »

Reality
Reality
1 month ago

Very well stated Keith. To claim social justice as an inherent attribute of the mission of several of council members is offensive. A well established and resilient business community is the back bone of the broader community of and for the residents. A secondary layer provided by the hotels favoring tourism can be perceived as building on a solid foundation. Unless the City Council and City Manager perceive the city to be little more than a commercial/entertainment venue enhanced by hotel traffic and higher revenues for owners of former rock &roll venues through the self serving Sunset Billboard Policy there… Read more »

voting
voting
1 month ago

Attempts like this to redistribute wealth–to their friends in return for votes–will result in overwhelming Republican victories in upcoming elections. The arrogant ignorance of Horvath-Erickson-Shyne is astounding and tragic to behold. Let’s hope each of them is working for minimum wage real soon.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  voting

Your fingertips to God’s screen, homie.

Left Field
Left Field
1 month ago

Corporations like Target can’t pay a minimum wage of $17.64. Unlike the non profit city council, Target has investors who want a return on their investment. What is the projected loss in sales tax when the Gateway Target closes ?

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Left Field

Seriously? Is that going to happen? As if.

Left Field
Left Field
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Happens all the time when new stores take away sales from existing stores. Ask anyone who has lived in Minnesota.

Allen
Allen
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Yes it will happen. Kroger closed several Ralph’s stores just over hero pay. Today you can not count on things being the same as they were before the pandemic. It’s a whole new world.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

I 100% hope they raise the minimum wage. And I sincerely hope Wehoville starts to put out opinion pieces for BOTH sides of issues.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

I’m sure WEHOville would welcome your well-reasoned, well-written and sensible thoughts in the form of an op-ed that you write. Mr. Kaplan has done it several times.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

I have yet to see Wehoville publish opinion pieces on both sides of issues. That’s all I meant. I’m not sure why you have to go straight to nasty insults (in your other comment).

I’d much prefer you stop replying to my comments altogether. Thanks.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Cry more.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Took the words right out of my mouth. But Larry is a small business owner, who has lost an election to one or more of the “Shyne/Horvath/Erickson coalition.” There is clear bias here. I know that Larry invites differing opinions, but the volume of articles that are pro-business, pro-Chamber of Commerce, and anti-labor is overwhelming. Not to mention anti-scooter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Randy
Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

Yet more intellectually lazy supposition and conjecture. I’m confident that WEHOville would publish op-eds on many sides of many issues if the yellers and screamers would bother to take the time to articulate their stands in an intelligible manner. Clearly it’s easier to malign the publisher as a sore loser than to offer meaningful analysis in a thoughtfully reasoned and articulate counter argument. That the yelling and screaming is done under cloak of anonymity makes it all the more toxic and vile.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

For the record WeHoville published my op-ed in favor of the Hotel Workers’ Ordinance. I can’t fault the Chamber or the business community for using WeHoville as a forum; I much prefer an articulate commentary from Keith Kaplan than those fear-mongering mailers the Chamber sent out during the Hotel Worker Ordinance debate.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Steve, I always enjoy your commentary and your full op-Ed pieces, whether or not I agree with them. Agreement is not the point of intelligent debate. You have valid views and opinions, they are clearly and eloquently articulated, and you always attach your name to them. My biggest compliment is that you care enough to put forth your strong arguments and take the time to express them coherently without resorting to ad hominem attacks and ignorant assumptions. More please, including another run for office?

Citizen for Change
Citizen for Change
27 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Why should I care about the opinions of a socialist? I grew up watching this city grow into its zenith and am now a homeowner here faced with the looming prospect of Detroitization. Blight and flight will turn this city into North Caracas in no time. Oh wait, we’re here.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago
Reply to  Randy

This is spot on and I’m glad other people see these trends.

Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
Harambe's Vengeful Ghost
27 days ago
Reply to  Randy

Scooters are the devil.

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