Friday, October 15, 2010

Judge has faulty opinion on public policy

I happened to hear an appeals court argument yesterday over whether a developer had to pay prevailing wages to construction workers. The developer bought the land from the city chose not to impose that requirement, but the other party argued that no such choice could be made under some obscure redevelopment agency law.

At one point, the other party said that the area was economically depressed, and the workers need the money. The judge interrupted, and said that there was no need to make such an argument because the public policy arguments are obviously on the side of requiring the prevailing wage.

The judge is an idiot. The prevailing wage is good for the local white union construction workers, but unlikely to be good for the broader economy. The city apparently required prevailing wage for some projects, and not others. Probably some of those projects would not get built if they had to pay prevailing wage. Requiring higher wages on all projects will mean that fewer projects get developed. The judge is obviously in no position to say how many projects should be developed. The legal briefs were only about the interpretation of some obscure statute.

This 3-judge panel will probably write a decision on the matter, based in part on a faulty analysis of public policy considerations. But the written opinion will probably just discuss the statute, and not mention their faulty logic.

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