The Starting Line – Escondido Denies Permit for Voter Registration Drive on National Voter Registration Day

by on August 14, 2012 · 1 comment

in Activism, Columns, Education, Government, Health, Politics, The Starting Line

Here’s an example of too much government... San Diego’s ACLU chapter is challenging an Escondido ordinance that requires citizens to give the City two months advance notice in order to receive a permit for a special event. The group became aware of problems with the North County city’s permitting policies when they applied for a permit to hold voter registration and get-out-the-vote event at the Grape Day Park on September 25, 2012, to coincide with National Voter Registration Day. A city staff member told the San Diego ACLU that the event would require at least 60 days advance notice, and declined to accept the application.

A press release issued by the ACLU asserts that “Escondido’s ordinance represents an illegal prior restraint, pitting the public’s right to protected expression against the government’s power to approve or disapprove an application. On a number of fronts, the city’s current ordinance violates First Amendment protections…” The group is currently negotiating with the Escondido city attorney’s office, but indicates that litigation remains an option if necessary.

Say no to plastic… The Surfrider Foundation announced this morning that Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is joining with them in supporting AB 298 – legislation to ban the use of plastic bags statewide by 2015.  At a La Jolla press conference that included over a dozen elected officials and representatives of pro-conservation groups, they urged the Assembly to support the legislation, which will be voted on within the next three weeks. The bill would require retailers to provide reusable bags for sale and charge a fee for recycled paper bags as an incentive for customers to use reusable bags. If passed, California would become the first state in the nation to pass a statewide plastic bag ban, and the law would mark a significant step in the effort to keep harmful plastics out of the oceans and waterways. According to Surfrider:

 To date, over 50 California cities have banned single-use plastic bags- these bags cover between 25-30% of the population ofCalifornia. Local bans include Solana Beach, and one is expected in Encinitas.

 Grocery chains need one law to allow them to come into compliance in each municipality and streamline their operations.

 Plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources such as natural gas and oil.  Plastic bags do not biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact wildlife when littered – in addition being an eyesore, costing taxpayer dollars to pick up, potentially clogging drains and possibly creating mosquito breeding grounds in warmer months.

 While plastic bags are recyclable, recent reports show adismal 5% recycling rate from the 115 billion bags used nationwide.

 The story that will not die… It seems that everybody wants a piece of the Saturday night water gun melee that left Balboa Park’s ‘iconic’ lily ponds trashed. Both mayoral candidates jumped into the fray yesterday, with the Filner campaign firing off a couple of strident press releases reacting to accounts that suggested that Carl DeMaio’s partner, Johnathan Hale, may have had a hand in promoting the event via his newspaper. DeMaio held a press conference, complete with supporters holding campaign signs in the background, in which he read a statement calling Filner’s comments “desperate personal attacks against my family.” That kind of “mean-spirited divisiveness” might be typical in Congress, but is rejected in San Diego, he said.

Today’s daily fishwrap puts the story on the front page, with columnist Matthew Hall pointing out that San Diego’s Finest were asleep at the wheel Saturday night. And the conversation continued on Twitter late into the night, seemingly focused on whether San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, and by extension publisher Johnathan Hale, had any legal culpability. I’ll weigh in here and say that those arguing that the paper/Hale had some sort of criminal/legal responsibility for the park trashing simply need to take a deep breath. As much as I loathe Carl DeMaio, I love the First Amendment, and there is simply no rational basis for asserting that SDGLNews crossed the yelling “fire” in a crowded theater test.

The other Balboa Park story – It ain’t over ‘til it’s over… The Save Our Heritage Organisation filed suit yesterday (Monday) in Superior Court  against the City of San Diego, hoping that judicial intervention will halt construction associated with the Balboa Park Plaza de Panama project. The lawsuit contends that the city has violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to fully consider alternatives to the current plan, which calls for construction of a fee-based parking garage and a by-pass road. The legal action also asserts that the project violates the city municipal code and that the paid-parking garage is inconsistent with the California legislature’s declaration that the park be “free and public.”

More on SDUSD’s School Busing fees… Last weeks story in the this column about San Diego Unified’s rather brutish letter to parents demanding payment for this year’s school transportation in advance (or else!) drew a response on Friday from Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover. As with many workplaces at this time of year, lots of people are o vacation over at the School District, hence the slowness of the response. (Our stat tracker did show computers from SDUSD logging on to the story the day that it was published, but, whatever…)

I haven’t written about it because I’m not sure what the bottom line was with his response with regard to the time frame set forth in the letter. He did point out that the decision to charge parents for schools busing was driven by the crisis in funding, and that many families are exempt from those fees. (Only the families of about 800 students got the ‘or else’ letter.) As I suspected, this year’s demand for near-immediate and up front payment was driven by the failure of SDUSD to collect busing fees in the past.

But see if this (cut & pasted from Stover’s email) makes any sense to you:

“The last two years we have not offered a payment plan to all those we have charged.  We do offer a payment plan on request.  The reason we are not offering it to all is that many parents chose that option the last few years and then did not follow through.  We do work with families on a payment plan if they call and request it.”

I wrote back, explaining that my main issue was the shortness of the notice involved. I haven’t heard back. But I guess that, based on what’s said above, if you call the district and ask, they’ll figure something out. Let me know if you hear otherwise…

The kickstarter for San Diego’s Public Market space that we talked about last week is nearly two thirds of the way towards their crowd-sourced funding goal of $92,000 towards coving their opening expenses. As of 7am this morning, 502 people have committed over $59,000 towards transforming the already leased 92,000 square foot property near Petco Park.  Opening is set for the end of August. They have, under the rules set by Kickstarter.com for crowd sourced projects, until August 24th to make their goal. More info here.

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…

The ultimate in racist logic… Texan DeWitt R. Thomas filed a federal lawsuit in July against Keith Langston, owner of Two Rivers Grocery & Market, claiming that his civil rights and religious freedoms were violated when the store owner refused him service. Mr. Thomas was barred from the establishment after he told the grocery sacker, a black man, “Wait a minute, don’t touch my groceries. I can’t have someone negroidal touch my food. It’s against my creed.”

Locally flavored wingnuttia on the national stage… UT-San Diego’s official wingnut, former Mayor Roger Hedgecock, has penned quite the paranoid screed over at WND.com.  With the recent shootings at the Wisconsin Sikh temple still fresh in our minds, he dredges up the three year old assessment on right wing terrorists or wanna-be terrorists issued by the Department of Homeland Security. The report was retracted in the face of political backlash from mainstream conservatives, who claimed that it was an attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate opponents, even though the study was initiated during the Bush administration.

The fact that this whole thing is old news didn’t stop Hedgecock from re-cycling it with the headlines “THE GESTAPO AT OBAMA’S DHS” and the tag “Exclusive: Roger Hedgecock blows whistle on administration’s effort to bully Americans”. Roger may be right, though. In the face of the following information from the Southern Poverty Law Center it might be time to take another look at that report:

Currently, there are 1,018 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-NazisKlansmen, white nationalistsneo-Confederatesracist skinheadsblack separatists, border vigilantes and others…

 Since 2000, the number of hate groups has increased by 69 percent. This surge has been fueled by anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy, an influx of non-white immigrants, and the diminishing white majority, as symbolized by the election of the nation’s first African-American president.

 These factors also are feeding a powerful resurgence of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, which in the 1990s led to a string of domestic terrorist plots, including the Oklahoma City bombing. The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, grew by 755 percent in the first three years of the Obama administration – from 149 at the end of 2008 to 1,274 in 2011.

US Life Expectancy Falls… From Democracy Now! comes word of a new study saying life expectancy in the US has plunged over the last decade. They cite a report in Health Affairs, which says the US now ranks forty-ninth in the world in life expectancy, down from twenty-fourth place in 1999. The study authors cited what they called the United States’ “uniquely inefficient” healthcare system as the primary cause.

On This Day: In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. In 1970 Stephen Stills was arrested on cocaine possession charges at a motel in La Jolla. He was released on $2,500 bail. In 1998 a U.S. federal appeals court in Richmond, VA, ruled that the Food and Drug Administration had no authority to regulate tobacco. The FDA had established rules to make it harder for minors to buy cigarettes.

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, PacificBeach  (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 to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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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 won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013 and 2014. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park. NEW: Ello contact @dougbob
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avatar dorndiego August 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Let’s not forget, Hedgecock has always had a skin-color problem. Back in the early 80s he led a movement called Light up the Border, which summoned a lot of white fantasists to the border to help the BP keep them Mesicans out of the Homeland. It was a lot like Metzger’s earlier freakish attempt to taunt the people both men regard as an underclass.

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