Spokane Labor Council Questions
Spokane Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Committee on Political Education
Candidate Questionnaire 2011
Submitted by Michael J. Noder
Candidate for: City of Spokane Mayor
E-Mail address: firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: mikeforspokane.com
Your Occupation: Self Employed
Years of resident in Washington State Estimated 40+
Years of resident in Spokane County Estimate 40+
Are you registered to vote in the district for the position you are seeking? Yes
Do you vote in any/all elections? No, but most them.
Political Background (offices held, currently hold, other candidacies, political party offices, etc.)I am not affiliated with any political party, and have not previously held elected office.
Your union affiliation, if any, past or present: Bought a union company once.
Will your campaign use local bona fide union labels on all campaign literature, signs, and other imprinted items? NA
Do you require the use of local bona fide union labels on other printing needs throughout the year? No
1. Why are you seeking this office?
2.What are the three most important issues for this position?Answer:
#1. Proper role of government
#2. Value in the delivery of government services.
#3. Economic and intellectual growth of my community.
3. What in your background qualifies you for this position?Answer: Honesty, strong understanding of economics and risk.
4. Why is the endorsement of the Spokane Regional Labor Council important to you?Answer: I am not seeking the endorsement of any person or group. I am not accepting money from any person or organization. I make no promises, other that I seek to defend individual constitutional protections and ensure good tax payer value in city services.
5. Have you been involved with and/or actively supported organized labor? If so, how, and when?Answer: Not really, I had some union involvement when I was much younger. My experiences are more from the perspective of a business owner. I value individual responsibility and compensation, over collective standards for uneven performance.
6a. What process or system would you use to guarantee that labor is given an opportunity for input on issues affecting working people?Answer: The same guarantees that all citizens have, which shall not be impeded due to separate associations unrelated to the individual protections set forth under this constitutional republic of representative government.
6b. Please give examples, if any, of previous actions you have taken to insure workers were given an opportunity for meaningful input.Answer: As a business owner I defended and supported my employees, which were a primary reason for twenty years of solid performance in public works contracting.
7. What is your position on privatization and/or contracting out of public services? Explain.Answer: I seek the best value for the rate paying citizen and expect each department to be competitive on a host of levels. I seek to enhance competition wherever possible. Departments that benefit from union representation should be highly motivated to use this advantage to increase citizen value.
8. In a budget shortfall, what would be your priorities in spending?Answer: Core city services
9. A Do you consider health care to be an essential benefit for working families?Answer: No
9.B Should employers provide family medical benefits?Answer: Sometimes
9.C If not, how should health care be delivered to the most number of people for the greatest possible public benefit?Answer: You should direct this question to the medical profession, which has the ability and power to deliver health care, “to the most number of people for the greatest possible benefit.” I do not believe you should elect a mayor seeking to dictate conditions to a complex and highly conflicted industry.
10. What do you consider to be a living wage in Spokane County? State as an hourly wage based on a 40 hour work week.Answer: Varies from person to person. I can live on $1,000 a month and typically live comfortably on about $2,000 per month. A person with a large family and large legacy debt will need considerably more.
11. The labor movement believes that the right to organize, bargain, and strike are central to free and democratic workplaces in our community. Do you agree?Answer: I generally agree; however, there are existing government restrictions in place that I do not necessarily agree with, but will adhere to. On the matter of collective bargaining, I do not view this as a right, but rather as a power. I personally believe individual rights of union members should not be subverted to a collective, but this is a matter that should be decided by union members themselves and generally should not be subject to the opinions of politicians.
If yes, please describe with specific examples how you have supported workers’ rights in the past.Answer: I support the rights and liberties of all citizens and seek to do so without exclusion of any class or group.
12. What is your position on sustainability for resources, energy consumption, energy conservation, and job development?Answer: You have mixed individual and sometimes conflicting topics into a single question. There are many individual science and economic factors affecting an amalgamated answer. Jobs follow economic growth which follows individual liberty. Energy consumption and conservation are relative to specific circumstances. I do not believe a person is necessarily derelict or immoral because they consume water or energy. Sustainabilty, without regard to economic reality or even simple accounting standards, has often led to green washing and ecco-fraud.
13. The Spokane Regional Labor Council welcomes and encourages economic growth and development, so long as new businesses adopt standards that are friendly to the community and working families. As an elected official you will deal quite often with businesses seeking to develop or expand in our community. What standards or conditions do you believe are appropriate for local government to impose on business in areas of public health, environment, workers’ rights, and civil rights?Answer: I support the standards and conditions found under the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which protects the rights of all citizens. Public Health standards are those set forth by our public health district and by extension state & federal agencies.
14. Do you feel public entities should use taxpayers’ dollars to hire outside labor relations consultants for negotiation with unions?Answer: I do not seek to limit the decisions of future elected officials. As mayor, I do not expect to require much in the way of outside council; however, do not infer that I lack the capacity to aggressively negotiate on behalf of the citizens and long-term interests of Spokane. I am seeking increased value for the tax paying public; if this is also a primary objective of City of Spokane employees, we will move this city forward.
15. A Contractors for public construction projects are required to pay their employees the prevailing wage. Do you favor a strong monitoring and compliance system at the local level?Answer: No, I believe the state and federal government should enforce their own mandates. The city should uniformly enforce all conditions of its contracts, including prevailing wage conditions. This can be done through responsible and attentive contract administration.
15.B The term “responsible bidder” is used in Public Works documents. Due to several construction project failures, state law was modified to define the minimum criteria for a “responsible bidder”. Local governments have discretion to enhance these criteria Recently, the Spokane City Council exercised this option and adopted additional “responsible bidder” standards (see attached). Do you support this ordinance?Answer: No. Poorly administered city contracts, selective enforcement of contract conditions and manipulation of bidding conditions is clearly evident in the City of Spokane history of the past 20-30 years. The proper administration and enforcement of contract conditions will resolve the majority of problems associated with unqualified contractors, particularly when contracts contain surety provision.
I am against giving more power to city administrators whom have appeared derelict in the conduct of city affairs. I view this as a management problem; however, if I find individual union members improperly influencing the award and enforcement of city contract conditions, expect me to pursue full legal recourse.
15. C Apprenticeship programs have an established record of providing construction workers family wage careers. Would you be willing to support minimum apprenticeship participation in public works project.Answer: Probably not. Perhaps when skilled workers are evidenced to be non-existent or in short supply. However, our educational system is responsible for providing a sufficient flow of qualified job candidates. The city of Spokane should not be dictating area educational standards through the award of individual city contracts.
16. a. In order to encourage new jobs in our community, do you favor providing tax incentives to industries or businesses that might move in?Answer: No, I am against the selective favoritism of any individual, business or group. I believe Spokane should be known for having a uniform and fair business and governmental environment.
16 b. What requirements, if any, should be attached to any such tax incentives?
17. a. Would you support a requirement that industries or businesses receiving tax incentives and subsidies be required to pay a living wage to all employees?Answer: No. I do not believe this is the proper purview of Spokane City Government. These are state and federal issues and such standards should be established by those respective legislative bodies. The city must compete in regional, national and global markets. We must clearly understand existing market conditions and meet competitive forces as they are, not as we may wish they be.
17. B How should accountability and compliance be monitored and enforced?
18. Would you support a requirement that industries or businesses receiving tax incentives and subsidies be required to agree to remain neutral during an organizing drive?Answer: I don’t believe industries or businesses should be receiving incentives or subsidies from the tax paying public. I will seek to curtail such selective favoritism when possible. I am loath to restrain Free Speech under any conditions, but in conflicted situations I will consider it; however, I am likely to favor rather than restrict any aspect of the Bill of Rights, which I personally believe applies to all citizens regardless of whether they have an interest in a business or union.