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Stadium security deal stalls over pay

Qualcomm StadiumSAN DIEGO — Another extension of an interim deal for security at Qualcomm Stadium was approved Wednesday by the City Council’s Budget Committee, because city officials and bidders cannot agree how to interpret the city’s Living Wage Ordinance.

Council members have able unable to award a contract for stadium security for more than a year now, because of a series of controversies involving Orange County-based Staff Pro and San Diego-based Elite Show Services.

Councilman Mark Kersey called it “the contracting process from hell.”

“This is absolutely the worst of what people hate about government,” Kersey said. “It’s just not tolerable.”

The latest issue is whether Staff Pro, based in Orange County, will commit to paying its employees what the city determines to be a living wage in San Diego, which is roughly $16 to $23 per hour for various security jobs.

Deputy City Attorney Thomas Zeleny told committee members that Staff Pro has signed pledges to follow the ordinance, but since the law carries exemptions, it doesn’t mean the firm is committed to actually paying its employees that kind of money.

Under the plan proposed by city staff, the company would be given the right for three years — with two one-year options — to provide stadium security for non-Chargers events, such as football games staged by San Diego State University, bowl games, monster truck rallies and soccer contests.

Zeleny said that unless the city and Staff Pro “get on the same page” regarding the ordinance, he would recommend the City Council deny their contract award.

An attorney for the company, Leslie Devaney, told council members that Staff Pro executives have signed living wage pledges twice. City staff is “hostile” to Staff Pro, she said.

Staff Pro is not providing any stadium staffing under the interim deal. Elite is handling event staffing and round-the-clock security for the time being.

However, funding for the interim deal is scheduled to run out next week. Since the 60-day extension approved today happened only at the committee level, Elite will need to provide security without pay well into next month and hope the full City Council approves reimbursements at a rate of about $30,000 a month.

The city put stadium security out to bid two years ago and was set to award a contract to Elite, but Staff Pro appealed to an ad hoc committee and won.

The bid went out again, which resulted in a city staff proposal to have Elite provide two security guards around the clock and work at Chargers games, while Staff Pro would provide security, ticket-takers and other employees to non-Chargers events.

Committee Chairman Todd Gloria told staff the issue was “not being handled well.”

The issue is scheduled to come before the full City Council next month.