Irvine City Council Repeals Living Wage; Schott and Shea Defend Decision as Adhering to Christian Values

Christina Shea

Christina Shea

As expected, the Irvine City Council’s Republican majority repealed the City’s nation-leading and longstanding Living Wage ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.  Speaker after speaker, including two pastors, begged the council to keep the existing policy in place to no avail.  The Living Wage ordinance was repealed on a straight party line vote 3-1 (with Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway being absent). Not a single speaker spoke in favor of repealing the ordinance.  Not one.

No one was asking for an increase in the hourly rate for the Living Wage ordinance; speakers asked to keep the program as it even though an increase is long overdue. The council majority basically said we want the lowest bidder who pays employees the least.  It’s economic racism to repeal a program that’s worked and has had no affect on taxpayers.

At one point, council member Beth Krom asked for a second on an alternate motion to include all of the city’s contracts under the Living Wage ordinance or to increase the hourly rate to something the represents an actual living wage for the poorest workers in Orange County.  Council member Christina Shea, misunderstanding the tone of speakers, said the council wasn’t seeking to repeal the Minimum wage law (which no one contested) and admonished those who felt her championing the repeal was “un-Christian” as did council member Lynn Schott.  Sorry ladies, it most certainly is especially when two pastors show up and say so.

The Pastors were the Rev. Paige Eaves, a senior pastor of United Methodist Church in Irvine and Dr. Paul Tellstrom, the senior pastor of the Irvine United Congregational Church.  I received a message from Pastor Tellstrom who offered this reaction to this story:  “We worked together to appeal to these city officials claims to be upright Christians, a focus of the evening, and they ended up giving faith testimonies just before voting to take money away from the poor. It’s as if they believe that Jesus loves the poor so much that they’re supposed to create more of them to love.”

Schott referenced her own Christian faith with longstanding Republican talking points that increasing hourly wages for the poorest workers results in higher unemployment for this group.  And Schott referenced Seattle as being negatively impacted by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.


Conservative pundits citing a Seattle Magazine saying the new wage increase has resulted in a smattering of Seattle restaurant closures has been met with a collective “what?” from said owners. If anything, the Seattle restaurant market is booming.

Form a story in ThinkProgress:

“Renee Erickson told the Seattle Times when fact-checkers emailed to confirm the Seattle Magazine story. “No, that’s not why I’m closing Boat Street.” Erickson’s three other restaurants remain open, and two brand new ones are in the works in Seattle. “Opening more businesses would not be smart if I felt it was going to hinder my success,” said Erickson, who described herself as “totally on board with the $15 min.”

Poncharee Koungpunchart and Wiley Frank of Little Uncle “were never interviewed for these articles,” they told the paper. They are closing one of their two locations, “but pre-emptively closing a restaurant seven years before the full effect of the law takes place seems preposterous to us.” Frank reportedly asked one conservative writer who had picked up the wage-menace red herring to “not make assumptions about our business to promote your political values.”

The owner of Shanik told the Times that closing has “nothing to do with wages,” and Grub’s owner explained that they’re being bought out and rebranded by new ownership because the breakfast and sandwich bistro has been “a huge success.”

And Schott’s wrong about increases in unemployment from minimum wage workers too. An increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit 95 percent of all workers positively with minimal job loss according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

From the report:

Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly.

For this report, CBO examined the effects on employment and family income of two options for increasing the federal minimum wage:

  • A “$10.10 option” would increase the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in three steps—in 2014, 2015, and 2016. After reaching $10.10 in 2016, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually for inflation as measured by the consumer price index.
  • A “$9.00 option” would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour in two steps—in 2015 and 2016. After reaching $9.00 in 2016, the minimum wage would not be subsequently adjusted for inflation.

Many more low-wage workers would see an increase in their earnings. Of those workers who will earn up to $10.10 under current law, most—about 16.5 million, according to CBO’s estimates—would have higher earnings during an average week in the second half of 2016 if the $10.10 option was implemented. Some of the people earning slightly more than $10.10 would also have higher earnings under that option, for reasons discussed below. Further, a few higher-wage workers would owe their jobs and increased earnings to the heightened demand for goods and services that would result from the minimum-wage increase.

The increased earnings for low-wage workers resulting from the higher minimum wage would total $31 billion, by CBO’s estimate. However, those earnings would not go only to low-income families, because many low-wage workers are not members of low-income families. Just 19 percent of the $31 billion would accrue to families with earnings below the poverty threshold, whereas 29 percent would accrue to families earning more than three times the poverty threshold, CBO estimates.

Keeping poor workers poor is about as un-Christian as it gets; the two pastors who spoke (I was unable to catch their names, so if readers could help in the comments, it’s appreciated) noted the many Bible references that deal with the need to help the poor.  That’s not what this council did.

We’ll remind readers Dr. Choi runs a tutoring school.  Lynn Schott has a business that helps home school educations with Judeo/Christian (read Conservative) values.  Christina Shea is a realtor and lobbyist/government relations professional (her website claims Public Relations experience which made me laugh). Jeff Lalloway is a divorce attorney.  If you don’t like what this council did, don’t patronize their businesses.  Let the invisible hand of the free market impact their bottom lines.

I really do hope Lynn Schott reconsiders and runs for Congress in CD-46 just to see how she defends the notion of scaling back pay for the working poor.

  12 comments for “Irvine City Council Repeals Living Wage; Schott and Shea Defend Decision as Adhering to Christian Values

  1. Ltpar
    June 11, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Spin the data anyway you want, rationalize about poor workers not making a living wage, but it comes down to the cold hard truth that local government has no business in the wage market, except for their own workers. With the Feds and State having their fingers in minimum wages there certainly is no justification for local government to jump in the pit as well. Additionally, none of that “Living Wage” money paid on those 15 contracts was going into Irvine, because a vast majority of workers cannot afford to live here. As far as Irvine City Employees, none are below the “Living Wage” amounts and most substantially exceed it. What the Irvine City Council did is recognize an area of government intrusion and got rid of it. That is certainly in line with their campaign promises to reduce the size, cost and scope of local government. As a big spending, government expanding Democrat, I understand your position. While we do not agree, my positions is smaller, cheaper and less intrusive government is the best government. Good job, Irvine City Council.

    • June 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      So very Christian of them to keep the poor even more poor.

      • John Jaeger
        June 12, 2015 at 7:46 am

        You liberals are always so *generous* with everyone else’s money. When it comes to giving your own, not so much.
        1. Liberals are far less charitable, to churches, to non-secular organizations, to friends and even family, than conservatives are. Liberals even give less blood and volunteer less time than conservatives do. Read Who Really Cares, and lea
        2. “It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.” – Penn Jillette
        (Who engage in selectively revealed moral exhibitionism.)

        The Pity Party, by William Voegeli, page 196

        You really need to read it, Dan, and your other liberal friends need to as well.
        It’s all about you and your chest-thumping pretensions of goodness and mercy.

        • RHackett
          June 12, 2015 at 8:22 am

          Once again John reveals his hatred of America and Americans.

          The laff riot remark about giving monies to the poor would be hysterical were it not so pathetic.

          Given that corporate welfare and subsidies are estimated at $100 billion (with a ‘b’) per year. Conservatives have no problem giving other people’s money to their own as well.

          Supposedly the Tea Party was going to change all that when they took control of the House of Representatives back in 2011. Not much has changed.

          Give it up John. The crusty, old, angry, white male schtick is way past its expiration date.

        • June 12, 2015 at 2:38 pm

          an MIT survey disagrees with your stats John; 25% of money given to churches goes to help the poor

        • Linnette garber
          June 12, 2015 at 7:02 pm

          I am a liberal. I give lots of money to education, but also to hunger programs. And actually gave a college student 6 bucks when he couldn’t pay for his breakfast. Don’t be so quick to judge

      • Ltpar
        June 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Humm, Dan from your million dollar home in Irvine, with an upper middle class income, you sound a lot like that fraud Hillary Clinton pretending to care about the poor and downtrodden of this country. Let’s face it Dan, you Democrats want to keep minorities and the poor of all races in poverty, depending on government entitlements so their vote can be guaranteed. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

        • June 12, 2015 at 8:55 pm

          Where to begin. I didn’t cast a vote to reduce anyone’s pay. Your friends did and were criticized by Christian pastors for this unChristian behavior. Everyone who bought homes in Ivine prior to 2001 has lots of equity thanks to the efforts of the Democratic majority that killed an airport your friend Ms. Shea was unable to do when she was last mayor. That and the great programs supporting public schools, public health and public safety — all led by progressives in this town. my home and my income are none of your business

  2. cynthia curran
    June 11, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Well, it effects a small number. Unlike Republicans I not against the 10 per hour in the state next year. I think it helps and only effects a small number of business. In fact I favor getting small companies like the San Francisco comic book store which has trouble with SF current minimum wage a tax break. The problem about poverty in OC is many low skilled workers don’ moved into management in the service jobs or get better skilled in the factory worked. Many low skilled workers in Orange County in Medical device never learn machinists or wielding skills or so forth to advance. In fact there is now a high demand for construction work in the county. There are plumbing apprenticeships and some plumbers with a great deal of experience are advertising for 30 to 40 an hour. The Democratic want to help the poorer service workers or factory workers in the city they need to developed a strong training program in the city with the community college or other trade programs This would helped the Dems pick up votes in Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim, all the larger cities in the county or smaller ones like Stanton.

    • Ltpar
      June 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Cynthia you are correct in your analysis of why poor people stay poor. That is aided by Democrats who do not want them to become educated, develop higher job skills and move up the food chain in income. When people do that, they start thinking for themselves and that the Democrats can’t stand the thought of. Keep em poor and in poverty and you control their vote in every election. This is the sorry state our country has evolved into.

      • June 12, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        You are so wrong. Republicans want to cut aid to public schools, kill social programs that matter, and keep a permanent class of people as low paid slave labor.

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