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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council voted Monday to override the mayor’s veto of a minimum wage increase — setting the stage for another high-profile political fight between the Democrat-controlled council versus the Republican mayor and the business establishment.

All six Democrats on the council voted to override the veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer; the two votes against the override were Republicans. A third Republican on the council was absent.

Within minutes of the vote, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced that, “together with the business community,” it will launch a petition campaign to put the wage boost before the voters in the hope that they will reject the measure.

“We are all sympathetic to people who are struggling to make ends meet … but this is the wrong decision,” said the chamber’s chief executive, Jerry Sanders, a Republican and former mayor.

Council President Gloria Todd, a Democrat and sponsor of the minimum wage increase, had advice for people who will be asked to sign a petition: “Don’t sign it.”

The Chamber of Commerce contends the increase will hurt small businesses and possibly force businesses to lay off workers or leave San Diego. Gloria and other proponents say the increase will help an estimated 172,000 residents struggling to live in an expensive city.

Twice in recent months, the majority on the council has lost economic fights with Faulconer, Sanders, and business leaders: Once over a tax measure for low-income housing, another over a zoning plan for the blue-collar Barrio Logan neighborhood. The latter was defeated by voters, the former was rescinded by the council.

Under the council action, the minimum wage will increase in stages to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2017. Statewide, the minimum wage rose to $9 an hour on July 1.

Opponents have 30 days to gather 34,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the next municipal election ballot in June 2016. The increases set for Jan. 1, 2015 (to $9.75) and Jan. 1, 2016 (to $10.50) would be delayed.

The measure also includes a provision allowing for five paid sick days.

The override vote came on a special meeting called during the council’s August recess. Six votes were needed to override Faulconer’s veto, his first since being elected mayor in February.

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, a Democrat, was in Duluth, Ga., assisting a family member but was allowed to vote by phone.

Councilman Mark Kersey, a Republican, who was in Ohio with his family, also participated by phone. Councilman Scott Sherman, a Republican, rushed back from a fishing trip and apologized for wearing a T-shirt to the meeting.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

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Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.