The Starting Line – League of Women Voters Stymied by UT-SD’s “Two Bumper Stickers and a Tweet” Letter Policy

July 6, 2012—The miniaturization of the UT-SD letters to the editor. Yesterday we heard from some friends associated with the League of Women Voters who were aghast because our local daily had rejected their letter to the editor due to its length. Meh, we said at first, you ought to be able to express yourself in 250 words or less (which used to be the standard at the paper) so there’s room for more letters. Then we learned that UT-SD’s rules have changed—letters to the editor are now limited to 125 words. Here’s the UT’s rejection letter:

We limit letters for print publication to 125 words. If you would like to shorten your letter and resubmit it to it will be considered for publication. We will retain your original for possible posting online.

 Thank you for taking the time to submit your comments

 Joe Taylor | Letters Editor 

 As one of our sources said, “that’s two bumper stickers and a tweet”. Of course, when our contacts started counting the number of words in yesterday’s letters, they came up with three missives that exceeded that limit, with 128, 142, and 157 words respectively. So, as a public service, we’re going to publish the original letter in its entirety here today. The public deserves to hear more than UT publisher Doug Manchester’s vision for our city.

Letter to Editor

Monday afternoon, July 9th, the future of Balboa Park may be changed forever.  At that time, the City Council will take testimony and debate the merits of the Plaza de Panama proposal.  While the central purpose of this proposal is to remove cars from the Plaza de Panama, which has nearly unanimous support, this particular plan is unnecessarily aggressive, disruptive and expensive.  How ironic that we would celebrate the centennial  of our beloved park by ruining its historic beauty.

Because of the extravagant public relations effort and pressure from the Mayor’s office to circumvent certain approval procedures, the citizens of San Diego, the owners of this park, have been misled. Most do not realize that:

This project will introduce paid parking into Balboa Park for the first time.  Bonds for the parking garage will  be paid by parking fees which are estimated to be at least $5 for five hours. Who will park in the garage as long as free parking is still available?  “If there is insufficient net parking revenue to pay the annual debt service on the bonds, the General Fund must cover the shortfall.“  (San DiegoIndependent Budget Analyst – IBA Report # 11- 44)

The exquisite Spanish Colonial architecture and especially the iconic California Quadrangle entrance to the park will be compromised forever by the introduction of the destructive by-pass “Centennial” bridge, off the Cabrillo Bridge, and our National Historic Landmark designation threatened.

The tranquility and serenity of the Alcazar Garden and Palm Canyon, the ambiance that makes this park so dear to our hearts, will be gone forever due to the adjacent by-pass and new road to the parking garage.

Serious questions remain in regard to handicap access from the reconfigured Alcazar parking lot to the Prado.

This Park was set aside more than a century ago by thoughtful visionaries as a permanent preserve to be held in trust forever for the purpose of a free and public park and for no other purpose.  Does the community want to sell out for $25 million or even $45 million?              

If you share our concerns, please attend the 2:00 pm hearing on July 9th at City Hall to express your opposition.

 Jeanne Brown, Co-President

League of Women Voters of San Diego

 Another battle for internet freedom looms. Earlier this year a unique coalition of techies, nerds and libertarians successfully defeated two pieces of legislation (SOPA and PIPA), that critics feared would have fundamentally broken the structure of the Internet. One hundred thousand web sites went “dark” for a day, urging would-be users to call Congress to protest Internet censorship. In the wake of that victory a coalition of groups, including many of the big names involved with the protest, forged a document released last week that outlined what they felt were basic tenets for a free internet. The “Declaration of Internet Freedom” outlines five principles they feel are necessary for a free and open internet: no censorship, universal access to fast and affordable networks, maintaining the internet as an open network for all, protection for innovations, and protecting users’ privacy.

The fledgling Campaign for Liberty, associated with Ron and Rand Paul, two libertarians who were active in the earlier fight, has come out in opposition to the Declaration calling it out for “pernicious internet collectivism,” saying that laws allowing internet users to view and interact with whatever content they desire are contrary to the cause of freedom and would lead to the destruction of property rights. Those property rights would apparently include allowing internet providers to place restrictions determine what content is accessible, allow for the increased utilization of so-called “data caps” and encourage a tiered system of internet rights of entry that creates a system of privilege for corporate sponsored “super networks”. Wow. This should be an interesting fight. I know some Paul supporters that will be mighty conflicted about this one.

Wednesday’s Big Bay Boom & Bust wasn’t the only fireworks kerfuffle in San Diego.  Livia Borak, an lawyer associated with the environmentalist oriented Coast Law Group was “physically removed” from the launching area for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show in La Jolla Wednesday evening.  Robert Howard writing as attorney for the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation, claimed that Ms. Borak endangered her safety and the safety of crews at the site when she snuck past a security fence with her camera. Ms. Borak told a different story to the UT-SD, saying:

“(The fence) kind of makes it harder to see the shooting area,” Borak said. “What I wanted to do is take a closer picture. … Looking at exactly how the fireworks are launched is an issue for the environment.”

Borak said she wasn’t as close to the mortars as Howard’s letter indicated. “I did not feel like I was at risk,” she said. “I would not have put my life in danger.”

 The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation has, over the past three years, lodged numerous complaints against the La Jolla fireworks show, pointing out the lack of environmental reviews in the permitting process. The City of San Diego has resisted their complaints, which include filing five lawsuits. The CERF has won three judgments in court but failed to stop the fireworks as the rulings are working their way through the appeals process. (Please note: I wrote this entire story without mentioning attorney Marco Gonzalez, who also works with CERF, and is vilified way too often in this city for asking our government to do the right thing for the environment. The UT just loves to drag this guy into every story possible to keep their knuckle-dragging commenters juiced up.)

On This DayIn 1933 the first All-Star baseball game was held in Chicago. The American League beat the National League 4-2. In 1945Nicaragua became the first nation to formally accept the United Nations Charter. In 1957 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were introduced to each other.

Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Borrego Springs  (Christmas Circle Community Park Christmas Circle & Palm Canyon Dr.) 7 am – noon, Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach  (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot  5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village  (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego (4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm

Get a life. The San Diego Padres—who have won SIX GAMES IN A ROW!—are playing the Cincinnati Reds tonight.  From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m at the ‘Park at the Park’ there will be “The San Diego Food & Wine Festival” which promises “great wine and food specials”. 619-795-5555 for more info.

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org  


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarJudy Swink says

    Doug – thank you for your story about the UT’s purported limit on number of words for a print edition Letter to the Editor. One can only assume the motivation for that limit was specific to the topic – for all the good it did given yesterday’s Council vote approving the Plaza de Panama. Sherri Lightner deserves flowers for sticking to her principles – however, she can probably better use contributions for her Council seat campaign against an opponent with a personal fortune who publicly supported the Plaza de Panama plan.

    IF that bypass is built, I think many who have supported it will have the same response as a Navy officer who apologized to Capt. Norval Richardson (co-chair of the coalition that worked so hard to get the Navy to build their new hospital outside of Balboa Park) once he saw the end result. His comment to Capt. Richardson was on the lines of “supporters were lied to when assured that no one would be able to see the new hospital from Park Blvd.” I guess we know how that went…..

  2. avatarJudy Swink says

    Another comment, this time on the Pauls’ “Campaign for Liberty”. I thought they were both Libertarians! Their stated position on ‘internet freedom’ is the exact opposite. But, perhaps they believe that only the business world should have freedom to control what the rest of us can read or say.


  1. […] write a letter to the editor to complain. But, as San Diego Free Press reports, the paper says letters are limited to 125 words. “That’s two bumper stickers and a tweet,” a source told the Free […]