SOLON — The Solon City Council received more than 50 media and members of the public in its chambers this evening. In a unanimous vote, council rejected the Johnson County ordinance to raise the minimum wage in favor of state regulations. They collapsed three required readings into this one, so the decision is final.
Seventeen speakers on multiple sides of the issue made statements and appeals to council members. In the end, everything proceeded as it must have been foreseen by the mayor and council.
My last post about mau-mauing the city council got it wrong in that everyone who spoke, and the audience generally, were well behaved and non-confrontational. It didn’t make a difference.
Here are my takes:
The presence of people who lived outside the city made matters worse. Locals are well aware of what happened in Wisconsin during the unsuccessful recall of their governor. Kevin Samek of Solon mentioned Scott Walker by name during his remarks. Council supporters made clear outsiders weren’t welcome. One person said, “It’s just like the Scott Walker recall again.” Not in a good way regarding the coalition of organizations who were present.
Business owners don’t like the publicity. This is not a shocker, but word of a potential boycott got their attention. Jay Schworn of Salt Fork Kitchen said he hadn’t wanted to get involved until word of a potential boycott spread around on Facebook.
There were no minimum wage workers present. This voice should have been heard from and wasn’t. One speaker, whose name I couldn’t understand said she knew three Solon families working minimum wage jobs and couldn’t attend because they were working. One business owner said he employed a number of high school students at $7.25 per hour and they were a problem because of the limited hours they could work. He preferred hiring mature staff at a higher wage.
If people don’t like government, they should run for office. Solon voters made this council, except for one appointment. If it is perceived as broken, only they can fix it. The filing deadline in the Solon city races is tomorrow.
Public comments were a rich soup of heartfelt words deployed in a way that doesn’t work any more when persuading elected officials. For those of us who follow politics, there are lessons to be learned. I plan to listen to every minute of the audio recording — at least twice.