When even the D.C. Council says an initiative is too progressive to be put into law, you know it must be nuts.
The Council passed legislation Tuesday that would repeal the ballot measure known more commonly as Initiative 77. Tuesday’s vote, which is the first one of several motions required to overturn the law entirely, passed by a margin of 8-5. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a Democrat, says she would sign the repeal.
In other words, even in the nation’s capital, which has arguably one of the most left-leaning governing bodies in the country, the crusade to increase servers’ wages to $15 per hour is rightly regarded as a death blow to the local economy and the city’s thriving restaurant scene.
Full disclosure: I voted against the initiative because I know a $15 wage increase doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Shop owners will have to offset payroll costs if they want to stay afloat. Who do you think will eat the cost? Hint: If you think $25-$30 is a bit much for an entree and a soft drink in the nation's capital, just wait until restaurant owners are required to pay their servers, bartenders, etc., $15 an hour.
Second, let’s not overlook the fact that the D.C. workers that Initiative 77 is supposed to help are already guaranteed the minimum wage of $12.50 per hour. This means that if their tips don’t add up to at least $9.17 an hour, the restaurant pays the difference, as City Labs’ Kriston Capps noted in June. Initiative 77 would change this to a guaranteed $15 per hour plus tips. As a person who spent roughly a decade in the food service industry (busing, waiting, bartending, etc.), I can safely say this initiative is exceptionally unrealistic regarding the store’s bottom line.
Also, I’d like to note that I wasn’t alone in my opposition to Initiative 77. Servers and bartenders themselves opposed this stupid appeal to know-nothing populism. And that’s to say nothing of the local D.C. restaurants that also came out against the initiative, including Pineapple & Pearls, Rose’s Luxury, Sixth Engine, the Dabney, Farmers & Distillers, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Black Cat, ChurchKey, and many, many more.
Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, who is spearheading efforts to repeal the initiative, said Tuesday, “If the law is a bad law, it should be amended or repealed. It does not matter if the law was adopted by the council, the voters or Congress.”
The Council members who voted to repeal the initiative are: Anita Bonds, Jack Evans, Brandon T. Todd, Kenyan R. McDuffie, Vincent C. Gray, and Trayon White Sr. They are all Democrats. They are joined by councilman David Grosso, who is a registered independent.
The Council members who voted against overturning the restaurant-killing ballot initiative are: Brianne K. Nadeau, Mary M. Cheh, and Charles Allen. They are all Democrats. They are joined by Elissa Silverman and Robert C. White Jr., both of whom are registered independents.
In a last-ditch attempt to save the initiative, Silverman said, “For those who are voting repeal, look them in the eye and tell them that their vote doesn’t matter and that they don’t deserve a higher wage.”
Her stunt earned her a rebuke for violating decorum, according to the Washington Post.
Initiative 77 passed easily four months ago. D.C. residents were all for it. The Council taking steps this week to repeal the idiotic measure is one of those rare and funny moments when elected bureaucrats move to save the electorate from itself. When even the D.C. Council demonstrates it has a better grasp of the basics of economics than the voters, well, I don’t know what to tell you.