The Starting Line – Sparked by Highway Deaths, Bike Riders Gathering in Balboa Park to Press City on Safety Issues

July 17, 2012 – In the wake of seven cycling deaths during the past week in Southern California, including two San Diegans, local bikers are gathering next week on July 25th in Balboa Park to call attention to local conditions that make biking hazardous. Cyclists Theodore Jones and Angel Bojorquez, who were killed in collisions with vehicles in La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe respectively, will be remembered at the 4pm gathering by the Balboa Park fountain. Cyclists will chalk outlines of bodies on adjacent sidewalks until 4:30 p.m. and then ride to City Hall.

This protest comes after an earlier event back in April, triggered by the deaths of cyclists David Ortiz and Chuck Gilbreth. Organizers want the city to answer and be held accountable for what they say are flawed roadway design and high speed limits. A Facebook page announcing the protest says the message is: “The people who are dying on our streets are not inexperienced or reckless bicyclists, they are careful, experienced riders who are dying from no fault of their own and we demand immediate action toward to goal of safer roads for all users”.  Cyclists are being encouraged to bring bells & whistles “so the City knows we are there”.

A headline we should have seen this spring, but didn’t… Education historian Diane Ravitch started out as a proponent of ‘education reform” and changed sides when she realized that the testing/charter school regimen that was at the core of conventional wisdom for “saving our schools” simply wasn’t working. She’s been a thorn in the side of “reformers” for the past few years, pointing out flaws in their statistics, methodologies and strategies. Her blog is a fountainhead of information about what works and what doesn’t in the field of education. So consider this little excerpt on the latest test scores reported by the National Assessment Governing Board, the federal agency that supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, test scores in reading and math are at their highest point in our history… Proficient [on NAEP] is akin to a solid A. In reading, the proportion (of students) who were proficient in fourth grade reading rose from 29% in 1992 to 34% in 2011. The proportion proficient in eighth grade also rose from 29% to 34% in those years. In math, the proportion in fourth grade who were proficient rose from 18% to 40% in the past twenty years, an absolutely astonishing improvement. In eighth grade, the proportion proficient in math went from 21% in 1992 to an amazing 35% in 2011.”

“When the scores are broken out by race, you can really see dramatic progress, especially in math. In 1992, 80% of black students in fourth grade were below basic. By 2011, that proportion had dropped to 49%. Among white students in fourth grade math, the proportion below basic fell in that time period from 40% to only 16%.”

“The changes in reading scores are not as dramatic as in math, but they are nonetheless impressive. In fourth grade, the proportion of black students who were below basic in 1992 was 68%; by 2011, it was down to 51%. In eighth grade, the proportion of black students who were reading below basic was 55%; that had fallen to 41% by 2011.”

These numbers tell a story not of failing schools, but of steady–and in some cases, very impressive–progress.

Should we do better? Of course. But people don’t do a better job if you keep telling them (falsely) that they are failing. It is important to acknowledge success if you want to keep moving forward.

Bridgepoint Lawsuit details massive insider trading… Don Bauder over at the Reader revealed yesterday that Bridgepoint Education’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Clark dumped almost $18.2 million worth of stock according to a lawsuit on behalf of stockholders that invested in the company between May 3, 2011 and July 6, 2012. The troubled company’s Chief Financial Officer Daniel Devine reeled in a cool $6.7 million and Chief Academic Officer Jane McAuliffe dumped $6.2 million during that period. Bridgepoint management made materially false and misleading statements about the accreditation problems that the company was facing with Ashford University during that thirteen month period in press releases, securities analyst conference calls and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ha! Meanwhile, over at the UT-SD, the paper’s editorial board was waxing eloquently yesterday about “Bridgepoint’s sterling record as a good corporate citizen” and blaming “sensationalization by media” for the “decline of Bridgepoint Education’s valuation and a sullied reputation.”  The lawsuit against the company states, “By spring of 2011 the company had been warned that Ashford’s future accreditation was at risk.” Since news of their troubles has surfaced, Bridgepoint’s stock value has tumbled by fifty percent. In other words, the company’s management knew and profited. The editorial prattled on:

The U-T knows the leaders at Bridgepoint and is absolutely confident that it will grow and prosper in the future and will continue with its community largesse and economic impact to our region. We believe that Bridgepoint has earned our region’s support.

Perhaps the UT-SD’s editorial board can bake them cookies while they’re on trial and take up a collection for all the people who end up unemployed because of this outfit’s folly.

Heavily funded effort aims to defeat consumer initiative… California’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will be on November’s ballot as Proposition 37. The measure requires labeling of genetically engineered foods, which are plants or crops that have had their DNA artificially altered in a laboratory with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food.  An April poll by San Francisco TV station KCBS found that 91% of Californians back labeling.

As the big tobacco companies proved with their overwhelming cash fueled campaign against last June’s Proposition 29, polls mean little in the face of a well orchestrated effort by big corporations. Monsanto and their corporate allies have funded the “Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling” (CACFLP), to lead their fight. Behind this catchy name is none other than Tom Hiltachk, a partner at the Sacramento-based lobbying firm Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk. In the past, Hiltachk was involved in helping Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds in the “Californians for Smokers’ Rights” group, which aimed to fight anti-smoking initiatives in the 1980’s and 1990’s. His “Californians for Fair Business Policy”, was a so-called “grassroots” organization, a front to mobilize business opposition to the anti-smoking initiatives.

Hiltachk and friends are organizing a massive advertising and P.R. campaign, aiming to scare voters into rejecting the Right to Know Act. They want to make voters believe that labeling would make food more expensive, that it will cause hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers and business, and that it will contribute to world hunger. (All of which is completely untrue.) But with a potential budget of around $60 million – $100 million, anything is possible.

If it’s Tuesday it must be time for more wingnuttia.  Yes folks, the craziness just keeps on keepin’ on, and I’m makin’ sure that you keep up with the latest stuff rather than waiting for those recycled emails from your crazy uncle…

An Epic Limbaugh Obama On Air  Meltdown… From yesterday’s broadcast:

He [Obama] was indoctrinated as a child. His father was a communist. His mother was a leftist. He was sent to prep and Ivy League schools where his contempt for the country was reinforced. He moved to Chicago. It was the home of the radical-left movement. He hooks up to Ayers and Dohrn and Rashid Khalidi. He learns the ruthlessness of Cook County politics. This is what we have as a president: A radical ideologue, a ruthless politician who despises the country and the way it was founded and the way in which it became great.

The choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney is “a choice between Satan and Beelzebub”… Alan Keyes has run for President three times and the US Senate four times and always lost. But that doesn’t stop him from being in the forefront of crusading conservatives in their quest for craziness. Here’s his take on the current Presidential contest:

I grieve deeply as I contemplate the fact that millions of Americans are letting themselves be caught in this diabolical snare. As I tried to point out in 2008, the lesser of evils is still evil. No matter how such an election turns out, people content to choose between Satan and Beelzebub have made clear their willingness to let things go to hell. Moreover, the nature of their choice is so clear to them that they practically boast of the passionate hatred that impels them to it. With this practical boast they become the willing, proud accomplices of the very evil they profess to hate.

LGBT-Inclusive Schools Facilitate Child Abuse and the Penn State Connection…   Mission America president and radio host Linda Harvey claims that LGBT-inclusive Gay Straight Alliances and anti-bullying programs are creating a child abuse epidemic in public schools. “The unreported molestations facilitated daily by the ‘gay’ lobby’s insistence on access to children must surely dwarf anything done by Jerry Sandusky,” Harvey writes in World Net Daily, arguing that educators and gay rights advocates are “grooming” children “to become victims of homosexual pedophilia” and sending an “engraved invitation” to “untold numbers of pedophiles and pederasts”

Roger “Fact Challenged” Hedgecock Debuts on UT-TV… Now that the fledgling broadcast operation has been added to the Cox Cable lineup, new programming is being added, including former Mayor Hedgecock’s new talk show. Yesterday’s show included a report that a local YMCA is behind “Muslim’s Only” swimming class; when in actuality the Y is renting space after hours for a City Heights women-only group motivated by concerns about modesty. He ran footage from the KPBS series on the subject, but chose to ignore the actual facts associated with story.  You can see the original KPBS video and print series here and here.  San Diego City Beat’s John Lamb recently did an excellent profile of the former Mayor’s transition from moderate Republican to right wing crazy. According to posting on Twitter yesterday, City Beat editor David Rolland answered an email from UT-TV asking him to appear with Hedgecock to discuss welfare reform saying, “Hell no”.

Tweet of the Day:

david ogul ‏@ogul  Watching UT-TV on Channel 114. This makes Wayne‘s World look realistic. Only Wayne‘s World is more professional

 On This Day: In 1955 Disneyland opened in Anaheim.  In 1968 the Beatles’ feature-length cartoon, “Yellow Submarine,” premiered at the London Pavilion. In 1975 an Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit. It was the first link up between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

 Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Coronado (1st St. & B Ave., Ferry Landing) 2:30 – 6 pm, Escondido  (Grand Ave. btw Juniper & Kalmia St.) 2:30 – 6:00 pm , Mira Mesa  (Mira Mesa High School 10510 Reagan Rd.) 3–7 pm, Morena District  (1240 West Morena Blvd.) 3 – 7 pm, Otay Ranch – Chula Vista (2015 Birch Rd. and Eastlake Blvd.) 4 –8 pm, Pacific Beach  (Bayard & Garnet) 2 – 6:30pm.

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 toDougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


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. avatarBruce says

    The ride and gathering to remember the cyclists killed is not today but next Wednesday July 25th. Thank you so very much for this coverage tho!