On February 11, 2019, at six p.m., the Pasadena City Council Chambers were already full with overflow into a basement conference room.
By Garrett Rowlan
As a kind of warm up, most speakers in the City Council open forum spoke of the closing and raiding of the California Collective Dispensary.
The City Council then moved to the main event, which was the vote on whether or not to increase the minimum wage in Pasadena to $15 an hour in July 2020, 18 months ahead of the state mandate. Two economists were brought in for perspective; Dr. Ed Leamer (UCLA) and Dr. Michael Reich (Berkeley). The effort had mixed results at best. One economist helpfully pointed out that the raising of the minimum wage was a complex thing. “I would not base a decision on what I am saying,” Dr. Leamer said after presenting mixed statistical information. Dr. Reich did not have the same unintentional comic lines as Dr. Leamer. His presentation rather was a progression of slides that appeared to support the increase, but he seemed to doubt the evidence as a matter of professional caution. Dr. Leamer returned for a brief counterpunch. “I give you statistical evidence and he gives you words.” The two then sat together, sullen like brawling boys sent to the principal’s office.
A series of speakers followed, most of whom were in support and most of whom had to be cut short by Mayor Tornek because some fifty speaker cards were handed in.
The City Council did vote to raise the minimum wage at a faster pace than the state’s requirement, with Councilmember Hampton casting the only no vote. In July 2019, Pasadena businesses with 25 or more employees will pay $14.25 an hour, increasing to $15 an hour in July 2020. For businesses with less than 25 employees, the increases are to $13.25 in 2019, $14.25 in 2020 and $15 in 2021.
Applause echoed throughout the Chambers and overflow room.
> View the full Pasadena City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.
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