January 20, 2019

My First City Council Meeting

I went to my first city council meeting on Tuesday, May 19th and it was an unexpectedly chaotic experience. We had to listen to the meeting in the overflow room because the room in which the meeting took place was full. Despite this disadvantage we still witnessed some exciting and strange actions. One man wearing a propeller hat went up to the podium in our room and starting insulting Mayor Garcetti and was quickly stopped by a security guard who had obviously dealt with him before because he knew him by name. The propeller-hat man’s complaints weren’t invalid but the approach he took to make his voice heard wasn’t the most effective. There were many speakers who could have had better ways of getting their points across but there were also people who were prepared and organized.

The issue that was being discussed was the decision to gradually raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars. We know now that the council voted in favor of this policy but it will be interesting to see the responses that people have to it and what the impact will be. I sympathized with the small business owners who argued that the raise of minimum wage would jeopardize the employment of much of their staff, but I also believe that in this day and age restaurant employees should be making more than seven dollars an hour. I understood the request that Homeboy industries made to have their company exempt from the new law because it would be impossible for them to keep all of the wonderful programs they have to help ex-drug addicts and gang members. That being said, large fast-food franchises such as McDonalds have no excuse when it comes to paying their employees a decent wage.

During this meeting I felt compelled to get up at the podium and make a statement in favor of the fifteen-dollar minimum wage law but I didn’t have a personal story or any direct involvement with it to support an argument. I hope that someday I have enough experience with an issue like this to confidently stand up for what I believe in and make my voice heard and be persuasive. I want the public to place a greater value on those who work for minimum wage and the immigrants who devote so much of their time and energy to service-oriented industries. I think that we take for granted the people who work as restaurant servers, car-wash employees, hotel housekeeping, etc. And often times we don’t even notice them and remember that they are people with needs and goals just like ours. At the very least they deserve the same basic necessities of life as everyone else and it is absurd to me that we would expect them to be able to sustain themselves off of such a low salary. It may take a lot of time and energy, but I believe that it is possible to change the public perception of minimum wage workers and the decision to raise the wage is just the first step.