The Difference Between a Request and an Inquiry

Between the OCBlog and the OC Register, the new Living Wage initiative passed by the progressive-moderate majority Irvine City Council is getting pretty beat up.  But methinks people are confusing “Living Wage” issues with “Prevailing Wage” issues and they are two very different things.


An unsourced item by Matt Cunningham on OCBlog from last week said this:  “I was talking to a friend this morning who reminded that a couple of years ago the City of Irvine had filed a request with the state labor relations agency to be exempted from paying prevailing wage on Great Park construction.”


According to staffers at City Hall, this isn’t true.  As a charter city, Irvine is already exempt from prevailing wage issues.  The city simply inquired about this status with the Department of Industrial Relations in regards to whether the Great Park is also exempt from prevailing wage requirements as well.  There’s a big different between asking for a favor and asking for clarification.   And it’s the sort of attention to detail that the council majority continues to ask of staff.  Still no word from the board on this inquiry.


But even with Irvine’s status on prevailing wages, I don’t think work on the Great Park is going to be billed out at $10 an hour.


At Powder Blue Report, Allan Bartlett reports that according to Irvine Council member Stephen Choi, Irvine’s new Living Wage issue would cost the city about $700,000.


From Allan’s post:

Irvine Taxes Are Going Up

The Irvine City Council has decided that it knows what’s best when it comes to mandating wages for city contractors and businesses that do work for the city. The bottomline is that is going to cost the Irvine General Fund about $700k according to Councilman Steven Choi. This is social engineering at its worst. The whole point of bidding out work that the city needs done is to save the taxpayers some money by the free market working its magic. Now instead of saving the taxpayers some money, it is going to cost us $700k.

Irvine taxes are not going up.  And Steven Choi should know that the $700K figure is a rough staff estimate.  And given the surplus the city council has enjoyed, Irvine can afford it and likely get better service in return.


Since Allan beat me up on a simple mistake last week, I am going to challenge him to correct a mistake in his post.  Allan’s headline says “Irvine Taxes are Going Up.”  Again, per staffers in the city manager’s office, even with the Living Wage, Irvine’s current tax rates are expected to stay the same.    


At $10 an hour for 40 hours a week, a worker takes home $20,800 for what’s likely backbreaking work.  I just want to know what Steven Choi has against working men and women that $10 an hour is too much? 


  9 comments for “The Difference Between a Request and an Inquiry

  1. March 19, 2007 at 5:26 pm


    Thanks for the clarification, but my point it the City of Irvine is still trying to find out if they can pay less than prevailing wage on Great Park projects so they can save millions of dollars. Why do you think they are making the inquiry?

    But they don’t mind imposing higher costs on others with their “Living Wage” ordinance (yes, I’m using scare quotes).

    I’m not confusing “living wage” with “prevailing wage.” My point is the liberal Irvine Council majority doesn’t have a problem with paying people less if it saves them money, but when it’s other people’s money, they have no problem jacking up labor costs.

  2. March 19, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Why is it any of the city’s business to tell private employers how much to pay their employees Dan? The bottomline is this is going to cost the city roughly $700k that comes right out of the general fund. That my friend is a tax, albeit a hidden one. The reason why we bid services out is save the taxpayers money. The City Council is doing the opposite. They might as well not bid anything out if they’re going to pull this stunt with the “living wage” ordinance. They’re gouging the taxpayer just to feel better about themselves that they gave a “living wage” out. Once again Larry says “jump” and Suhkee & Beth ask “how high”.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    March 19, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Matt —
    The inquiry is simply to determine how Irvine’s status; whether or not they act on it, should they get the same status as the city, is another matter. It’s a prudent inquiry. Do you know the answer? I don’t, which is why I called.

    And Irvine is using “other people’s money” to pay for good and services now, so I see no distiction of how others people’s money for living wage is any different. I am going to take a wild guess and say companies working on Great Park will be paid prevailing wage or better, not prevailing wage or worse. Also Matt, the Irvine Council majority is moderate at best. I’m a liberal and they’re too conservative for me. Trust me, everyone who isn’t a conservative isn’t a liberal.

    Allan — wow, some “hidden tax” if we’re al talking about it. Its a rough estimate, not a hidden tax. Irvine puts work and projects out for competitive bid now. How will this stop them from business as usual? And government places restrictions on business who do work for the government. If you’re working on Homeland Security issues, you need government clearance.

    If you want to grip about government doing something it should be doing Allan, then tell George Bush to stop reading my email or listening to my calls. But that would be a Republican effort, so its OK.

  4. Northcountystorm
    March 19, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Dan–i think Jubal has a point about irvine—yes they are exempt from paying prevailing wage(although that was only recently settled in the last few years in the courts) but they COULD have paid a prevailing wage on city projects, just as they don’t HAVE to pay a living wage but chose to do so. I think Agran wanted to pay prevailing wage but his former compadre turned enemigo Chris Mears sided with the Christine Shea-Alan bartlett cabal on this.

    Speaking of bartlett, its hilarious reading his cracking down on irvine for telling private employers what to pay their employees(today the living wage, tomorrow the minimum wage, eh Alan?). So i’m waiting to see if he cracks down on the Mission Viejo Council for telling private employers how they should manage their employees and their residency status.

  5. March 20, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Excuse me Storm, but it’s illegal for companies to hire illegal aliens anyways. What a novel idea… have companies follow the law. It’s what I’ve been saying all along about immigration. We don’t need anymore new laws, we just need to enforce existing law.

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    March 20, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Storm — so do I have this right, the progressive Irvine majority is getting dinged for the votes from the Conservative minority with a swing vote from Mears? Hypocrisy of living wage versus prevailing wage? I will have to call the city manager’s office for the lowdown on that vote.

  7. Northcountystorm
    March 20, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Dan–While both sides of the Ivine divide don’t like to admit it, Irvine is one city. That means its the City that is being hypocritical. I’m not sure how hard Agran pushed on this and he clearly didn’t have much influence on Mears in the last part of Mears term.

    But Mears is gone so that excuse is out the window. Team Agran(oops, I mean Team Krom) has a working majority. Maybe they have agreed to pay prevailing wage(can you check on that with the city manager please?) . If not, perhaps its time for the council to dine on Red Crow, courtesy of Chef Jubal.

  8. Northcountystorm
    March 20, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Alan—It’s always interesting to see a conservative Republican go down the road of “We’re going to make sure the business enforces federal, state and local laws and if they don’t they won’t get our business.”

    Now I know we can count on you and your Mission Viejo comrades to require verifications from city contractors that they are paying prevailing wage and minimum wage, enforcing anti-discrimination laws against people based on their sexual orientation, food establishments complying with health and safety laws. The list could go on and on of areas where the federal and state and county governments have failed to enforce the law and its time for cities like Mission viejo to step up.

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    March 20, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Iagree; it is one city, but the criticism was directly squarely at the “liberal majority” so its worth backchecking into this…

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