Nobody does it better

Here to represent: It was with great fanfare that the Downtown Partnership announced a new “branding initiative” last month aimed at promoting downtown as the “premiere destination for business, culture and living.”

With the new branding campaign comes a redesigned glossy newsletter and an overhaul of the partnership’s Web site. All this new energy can be traced to the fact that downtown property owners just voted to keep taxing themselves for all the good work the partnership has done.

But here’s a suggestion for the partnership on what to do with all that new tax money: make some extra copies of the newsletter for downtown merchants who pay their membership dues and haven’t been seeing it.

Consider, on the first page of the latest Inside Downtown newsletter, that the Downtown Partnership boasts that it is “a unified voice for the 176 property owners and 400 merchants” in the downtown area. In fact, bigwig developer David Taylor crows, “The Partnership does better than any other entity in acting as one voice for the interests of Downtown.”

That might not be saying much.

“We are never notified when there are public meetings about the plans to revitalize the J-K-L corridor,” said Allison Johnson, who owns Pin Ups Photo on K Street. “Sometimes when we make calls to the Downtown Partnership, they are never returned,” she told Bites.

A similar complaint came from Neil and Stephanie Ellis, who own Osteria restaurant across the street from Johnson: “We are not even sure what they do. Mind you, our membership fee is integrated into our rent.”

Osteria and Pin Ups both are on K Street, pretty much the heart of downtown and the one place you figure the partnership ought to do some outreach. Fortunately, Stephanie did say that Downtown Partnership director Michael Ault recently stopped by for a chat. “But, no, we still aren’t getting the newsletter.”

A day without a Mexican: Although the federally run Border Patrol currently polices California’s border with Mexico (and those volatile Canadians up north), supporters for the California Border Police Initiative were cleared by Attorney General Bill Lockyer on July 15 to begin gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would create a state-run border police.

Supporters hope to collect enough names by December 12 to place the measure before voters in the June 2006 election. Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, sent out a media statement last week announcing the beginning of the campaign.

“Californians are fed up with open border policies that invite illegal immigration and threaten national security. There is overwhelming public support for this initiative,” said Haynes, adding that immigrants run up $9 billion in annual social-services costs.

But Timothy Hodson, director of the Center for California Studies, said that research is divided on the overall costs and benefits of illegal immigrants.

“The problem is not just the border. If someone really wants to address the issue of undocumented workers in California, it’d be interesting to have not only a California border patrol, but an equal number of people to enforce labor laws,” Hodson said. “Have them patrol not only the border, but the garment district in Los Angeles and the corporate farms in the Valley. And very large companies and retailers like Gap and Target, who are making money off of these workers.”

Indeed, immigrants provide a massive pool of cheap labor that helps keep operating costs disproportionately low for employers, and both the state economy and consumers benefit from that. Everybody wants to keep terrorists out of the country, but the last time Bites checked, there was no word in Spanish for “fatwah.”

And if Haynes and his supporters could really make every California illegal disappear? Imagine that Saturday outing to get the SUV detailed before picking up a couple of pounds of grapes and heading for the driving range. Now imagine no illegals to wash the ride, pick the fruit or keep the course trimmed.

An afternoon’s worth of menial labor done by a bunch of U.S.-born white guys? Bites figures the cost at about $255. Expressing your inalienable right to xenophobia? Priceless.