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A member of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee says the whole thing was a charade. (KIRO Radio/file)

Committee member: Mayor's income inequality commission was charade

A member of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee that was working on the plan for implementing a $15 minimum wage in says the whole thing was a sham.

"The committee that was supposed to be put together and study this and talk about it and debate it, it was really a charade," says Seattle business owner Dave Meinert, who runs The 5 Point Cafe, a record label and other businesses. "It didn't study it. It didn't debate it. There was some conversations about it, but in the end, the mayor put a plan forward that was basically labor's plan and told the committee to either accept it or get something worse."

Meinert tells KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz he isn't against raising the minimum wage to $15, but he thinks if it was a more collaborative process, as originally advertised, they could have come up with a better plan. He says businesses thought they would have an opportunity to present their side, but in most meetings, they were prevented from doing so.

"We sat in these long meetings and listened to a bunch of crap stuff put out by one-sided things and then there was a moderator that kept us from debating about it, basically," says Meinert. "About half way through, the business people started to get really upset because it was clear this committee wasn't really going to really accomplish anything, that we were going to be force-fed a plan."

After being part of the process, Meinert says he became really disgusted.

"What became very clear is that this council, this mayor, and basically the way the city runs, is just controlled by labor on a lot of these issues, and is scared of labor," says Meinert. "Even when they disagree with them on policy. We'll put in place policy they don't agree with because they're so scared of labor and their money."

Meinert feels that the mayor's office didn't keep its word on things it said it would do.

"For instance, at the end of it, when they put this plan forward and said you have to accept this, one of my points was there are a lot of businesses in Seattle, say like Tom Douglas restaurants or Pagliacci, that are locally-owned small businesses. They're large small businesses, but they're far from a Target or a McDonald's, which was the original target of this law and process."

"And the mayor's staff looked me in the face and said, we are not going after those guys. We are going to make sure they go into the small category, and they told me the ways they were going to do that. And when the ordinance came out, it was completely untrue."

While he doesn't think the plan will directly impact his business, he says it could impact his workers, if say restaurants go to a service charge instead of tipping.

"It will negatively impact my employees ultimately, because the end effect of that is that servers and bartenders will have a decreased income and it's frustrating to watch that happen, because it didn't need to happen."

Speaking about his major grievances with the proposal, he says, "I think we should have had a tip credit and a health care credit that were permanent in there."

"In fact, the mayor stood in front of 100 restaurant owners at one point during this process and promised that total compensation would be part of the final solution for this plan, and in fact, they phased it out, so it's not part of the final solution."

After being approved by a city council committee on Thursday, the plan now goes before the full council for a vote. Meinert says he's speaking out now because it's time people know how this all went down.

"This wasn't some great consensus process, some great compromise, and the truth needs to really be told about how this process worked."

Related:
Seattle City Council panel OKs $15 minimum wage, delays start date

Jamie Skorheim, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.
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