SDFP Writer Maria Garcia Thanks Neighborhood House Story Tellers with Appreciation Luncheon

NH celebration cake excerpt

By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press writer Maria Garcia hosted a very special thank you luncheon for the men and women whom she has interviewed for her award winning series “The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights.” The event, attended by over sixty people, was held on August 9 in the community room of the Logan Heights Library.

These men and women, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, shared personal details of their lives and old photographs during their interviews that enabled Maria to weave together a unique social history of Logan Heights with Neighborhood House as the focus. That history spans from World War I to the early 1970s, with the take over of Chicano Park and the occupation of Neighborhood House.
  [Read more…]

Freeps in the News: Jim Bliesner, Barbara Zaragoza, Jeeni Criscenzo

bliesner plaque

By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press contributors are a diverse and talented group of individuals. It will be a busy weekend for three of them with the unveiling of Jim Bliesner‘s sculpture Cultural Fusion, Casa Familiar’s Abrazo Award for Barbara Zaragoza and An Evening of Provocative Poetry with Jeeni Criscenzo. These events follow upon last week’s screening of SDFP video- journalist Horacio Jones‘ short film “Wingin’ It” at the 48 Hour Film Project in San Diego.   [Read more…]

San Diego Free Press Celebrates!

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By Anna Daniels

The San Diego Free Press celebrated its third birthday on August 8 with a Galastravaganzaversary party at Border X Brewing. Wow–three years! It has been an astoundingly active year for this unique all volunteer operated San Diego media presence. Contributors and editors have provided another year of progressive views with a distinctly grassroots perspective on the topics of labor, the environment, immigration, criminal justice, politics and government.

Our approach–multi-media and multi-genre– reflects the talents and interests of our contributors. Video essays, personal narratives, cartoons and poetry are essential to the way that we present the people’s history. We take risks in terms of both the content provided and the format. The creative juices continue to flow; the vision of where we are headed is becoming more clearly delineated. Time for craft beer and a slice of galastravaganza cake!   [Read more…]

Looking Backward, Moving Forward: The San Diego Free Press Turns Three!

Nigel Howe
Creative Commons

On June 4, 2012 the San Diego Free Press made its very first foray into the provision of grassroots news and progressive views. We launched as an all volunteer effort to promote citizen journalism and have continued to operate on a volunteer basis since. Have you noticed that the site is ad free? We decided early on to reject sponsored content.

These defining characteristics make us unique as an alternative media platform.   [Read more…]

Demolition of North Park LGBTQ Historical Site… a Clerical Error?

Paisley Abbey gargoyle 6

Doug Porter recently wrote about the after hours demolition of one of San Diego’s two remaining historic Saltbox houses. The Bernie Michels-Thom Carey house at the corner of Florida Street and El Cajon Blvd was bulldozed by contractors working for developer HG Fenton this past Friday, May 29.

San Diego 6News has reported that the demolition permit may have been issued in error and that the city’s Development Services Department is conducting a “forensic review.” If that is the case, it is one helluva oops. A dozen red roses and a Hallmark card won’t put humpty dumpty back together again.   [Read more…]

SDFP Writer Maria Garcia Receives SOHO Cultural Heritage Award

Maria Soho 2

The Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) announced its People in Preservation Awards this past Thursday, May 21, 2015. San Diego Free Press contributor Maria E. Garcia was one of the ten people tapped for recognition. The majority of award recipients had beautifully and lovingly restored residential or commercial property to their original architectural state.

Maria’s designation was distinctly different. Her cultural heritage designation conveyed the underlying premise of the evening that “The past is not the property of historians; it is public possession.”
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City of San Diego Fy’16 Budget: Your Advocacy Needed

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Libraries take a $207 K hit on book and material funds; community policing missing from bloated police budget; nobody knows when the streetlights you’ve requested for a decade will be installed; Civic San Diego hoovers public funds sans transparency and accountability; underfunded code compliance will give slumlords a free pass.

Power concedes nothing without demands. Are you ready to take a stand for your community’s needs and against “business as usual”?
  [Read more…]

Public Scrutiny Turns Civic San Diego Board Testy and Defensive

civicsd board meeting

Civic’s Community Benefit Policy enactment a study in #democracyfail

By Anna Daniels

The Civic San Diego Board of Directors and President Reese Jarrett scored a victory at their April 29 board meeting. Civic San Diego, which describes itself as a “city-owned non-profit that is the entrepreneurial development partner for targeted urban neighborhoods” approved its own Community Benefit Policy with one dissenting vote after two hours of board discussion and public testimony. The one dissenting vote was cast by Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, who described the policy as “toothless, meaningless and unenforceable…It is the job of the City Council to tell us what to do … this is 1,300 words, non-enforceable and not approved by the City Council. ”

The Civic San Diego Board determined in the meeting that they could set their own policy without City Council review but would provide it to Councilmember Myrtle Cole’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

While the board vote was a victory for the policy’s passage, it was apparent that some board members were surprised– and clearly resentful–that Civic San Diego has had to fight so hard to avoid City Council oversight and that it has been subjected to so much public criticism.   [Read more…]

The 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon: How San Diego Brought the Vietnam War Home

…and City Heights became a refugee resettlement center

By Anna Daniels

The two forces that have indisputably shaped City Height’s trajectory since the 1960s are the adoption of the Mid-City Plan in 1965 and the fall of Saigon in 1975. The Mid-City Plan, with its emphasis on increased density as the way to support business, shaped the built environment that you see today. The fall of Saigon and the subsequent establishment of San Diego and City Heights as a refugee resettlement center forever changed the social environment. City Heights continues to exist as a refugee resettlement center, becoming a sometimes permanent and sometimes temporary home for displaced people from all over the world. But first, it was Vietnamese refugees.   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego Willing to Bury City Rep on Meaningless Advisory Board!

Ex-officio City staff on New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board = CivicSD’s latest nothingburger

By Anna Daniels

The latest news about Civic San Diego has been appearing courtesy of Lyle Moran in The Daily Transcript, which unfortunately operates behind a pay wall. Moran reports on the unexpected departure of CivicSD CFO and COO Andrew Phillips, who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accept an invitation to work at the western division of Jones Lang LaSalle and CivicSD board member Cynthia Morgan, an attorney at Higgs Fletcher and Mack and new mother who wants to spend more time on her career and with her family.

If there is more to the resignations, Moran was not able or ready to share those motivations in his article. But it is worth noting that Cynthia Morgan was the Chair of the CivicSD board when it proposed a gag rule for board members in October of 2014. Joshua Emerson Smith reports in his CityBeat article “A fierce advocate for independence from the city, Morgan went on to propose that members of the board be required to recuse themselves from voting if they were lobbying City Council members or talking to City Council members on issues that are coming before our board.'”

Morgan was clearly referring to fellow CivicSD board members Mike Jenkins and Murtaza Baxamusa.   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego Public Records Request Filled with Redactions and Few Revelations

An open letter to the Civic San Diego Board of Directors about New Market Tax Credit application

By Anna Daniels

What’s going on at Civic San Diego, the non-profit entity that has become the new model for redevelopment? On April 10, a legal complaint was filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. It was made available in its entirety at the San Diego Free Press.

On April 16 the Voice of San Diego published an opinion piece “Time to Shine a Harsh Spotlight on Civic San Diego” by former City Councilmember and current open government advocate Donna Frye. Frye refers in her article to the under- reported resignations of Cynthia Morgan, Civic’s Treasurer and CFO/COO Andrew Phillips. “I’m not sure what prompted the resignations of Phillips and Morgan, but it can’t be a good sign. It will be interesting to see who the mayor appoints, and the City Council confirms, to fill the vacancy left by Morgan, and who the new CFO/COO will be and how quickly that happens.”

On April 10 I sent an email to Jeff Gattas, chairman of the board of CivicSD, detailing my own concerns about the information that I had received from a public records request.   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

Notes from the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee

By Anna Daniels

At 4:45 pm on March 18, Marti Emerald, City Councilmember and Chair of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee (PS&LN) announced that there were still 62 speaker slips remaining on the topic of community benefits. The agenda item with the most speakers had been switched to the last one that would be heard that day. Emerald courteously asked the citizens remaining in the room to limit their testimony to one minute and to please not repeat what had already been said. The committee would lose its quorum at 5:30.

Why had so many people shown up at 1:30 earlier that day, packing the committee room and overflowing into an adjacent room? Why were they willing to wait three hours to provide one minute of public testimony about Civic San Diego (CivicSD), the public non-profit development agency owned by the City of San Diego?   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

By Anna Daniels

Who are Civic San Diego’s stakeholders? Who are the people and institutions who have the most to benefit from their success? And who has the most to lose if they are not successful? The answer depends upon whom you are talking to—CivicSD and its surrogates; City of San Diego elected representatives; or community residents and resident based organizations.

Community residents and community based organizations from areas of the city which have been designated by CivicSD as their immediate focus for economic revitalization have been particularly vocal on this matter, but they are hardly the only ones.

Community voices have been articulating the need for an enforceable city policy regarding the kinds of community benefits that must be generated in tandem with CivicSD’s economic development projects, as well as additional City of San Diego oversight of development activities. They have called for more transparency and accountability in CivicSD’s operation.

In short, those communities which are already fully aware of the economic and social problems that they face, are asking to be recognized as stakeholders and to be given the participatory power to shape the development process.   [Read more…]

The Morphing of Civic San Diego and the Need for City Council Oversight

Preparing for the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee meeting

By Anna Daniels

This past October, Reese Jarrett, newly hired President of Civic San Diego (CivicSD), appeared before the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee of the San Diego City Council. The committee chairwoman, District 9 council member Marti Emerald, directed a number of pointed questions toward CivicSD staff, followed by additional questions from District 4 council member Myrtle Cole.

Councilmember Emerald provided a brief description of CivicSD as a city owned non-profit established in June of 2012 to continue the city’s economic revitalization efforts. CivicSD already had a contract with the city, the redevelopment Successor Agency, to handle the administrative duties associated with the winding down of redevelopment projects.

Now there were updated CivicSD bylaws and another contract with the city which transferred the ongoing functions of CCDC and SEDC to CivicSD. Those same bylaws also broadened the scope of CivicSD activities and guaranteed its ongoing existence as the city’s development mechanism. Yet there was little fanfare or public discussion about how economic development and revitalization efforts should continue in the city after the end of redevelopment.   [Read more…]

SDFP Writer Maria Garcia Honored by CA Senator Ben Hueso

Six Women Selected as 2015 Women of the Year

By Anna Daniels

On Saturday March 7, State Senator Ben Hueso paid tribute to six women, one posthumously, in his 40th district. The event was held on the grounds of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

Maria Garcia is well known in San Diego as both an educator and Chicana activist. She is a retired elementary school principal with an academic background as a bilingual resource teacher. Maria has received numerous awards in recognition of her community service and contributions to education.

Maria received recognition this past Saturday for yet another contribution– that of a historian recording first person accounts about Neighborhood House and life in Logan Heights and Barrio Logan since Neighborhood House’s inception in the early 1900s.   [Read more…]

Newt Gingrich Happy Talk at the Times of San Diego

One big helping of pre-digested revisionist twaddle

By Anna Daniels

The lead business story in the February 26 Times of San Diego reports that Newt Gingrich has joined the strategic advisory board of San Diego-based Pathway Genomics Corp. The former Speaker of the House’s bona fides for this position are taken directly from Gingrich’s own site gingrichproductions.com or from countless other sites which uncritically regurgitate the same information:

…During his time in Congress, he helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, shepherded Food and Drug Administration reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus on scientific research, prevention and wellness.

This engenders severe cognitive dissonance for those of us who were breathing and sentient during the Gingrich years.   [Read more…]

Talking about Race and Racism in San Diego

By Anna Daniels

The San Diego Free Press editorial board invites you to participate in our examination of race and racism throughout the week of February 16. This past year has revealed how deeply fraught and painful our national conversation on that topic has become.

In May of 2014, months before the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri, before the choke-hold death of Eric Garner and the shooting death of twelve year old Tamir Rice, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote “The Case for Reparations” which appeared in the The Atlantic.

He observes that Americans talk about “race” but not “racism” and makes the case that “Whiteness and blackness are not a fact of providence, but of policy—of slave codes, black codes, Jim Crow, redlining, GI Bills, housing covenants, New Deals, and mass incarcerations.”

A discussion of race and racism in San Diego requires a broad lens, given our history as well as current events.   [Read more…]

What’s 80% White, 80% Male and 92% Christian? Welcome to the 114th Congress!

What does the 114th Congress say about our representative democracy?

By Anna Daniels

Did you know that our brand new 114th Congress is the most diverse Congress in our history? Women! African Americans! An African American woman! The 114th Congress is being hawked like a new and improved box of breakfast cereal. This newly minted diversity is relative of course.

A Washington Post article notes that “Congress actually gets slightly more Christian, with nine more Christians, five fewer Jewish members, one fewer Buddhist and one fewer unaffiliated member.” John Boehner, who was re-elected Speaker of the House, opened the 114th Congress with “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.”

For those of us who recall that only 36% of the voting public elected this new batch of congress people, the connection to the divine is a great deal less discernible. And we may want to hold off on the rejoicing and being glad part for a while.

But it is Liza Mundy’s article “The Secret History of Women in the Senate” that positively makes my teeth hurt.   [Read more…]

For the Love of Tamales

Beautiful food, the company of women and the immense edifice of memory

By Anna Daniels

Christmas without tamales is unimaginable. It is unimaginable not because I grew up in a household in which we ate tamales–I didn’t– but because I am here, in this place, where Mexico and the US are all mixed up together. Tamales are a form of gustatory truce. Tamales are the mouth watering accompaniment to baptisms, quinceañeras and la Navidad. They are the proof that corn is indeed divine. Tamales!   [Read more…]

No Justice, No Profits! Ferguson Protests Move to Stores on Black Friday

By Anna Daniels

“Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler is spear heading a movement to boycott retailers in protest of the decision to not indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Using the hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday they are urging consumers to boycott retailers on Black Friday. The movement’s website Blackout for Human Rights states:

Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout) is a network of concerned artists, activists, and citizens who committed their energy and resources to immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans throughout the United States. We have witnessed enough. An affront to any citizen’s human rights threatens the liberty of all. So, we participate in one of the most time honored American traditions: dissent. We demand an immediate end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killings of our loved ones; the lives of our friends, our parents and our children have value and should be treated with respect. Our right to life is secured not only by our humanity, but is protected by law both federally and internationally by the Constitution of the United States of America and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   [Read more…]

The Ferguson Missouri Public Library: A Clean Well-Lighted Place within the Chaos

“We will do everything within our power to serve our community.  Stay strong and love each other.”

By Anna Daniels

The news and images out of Ferguson Missouri have been grim.  Whether the perception is accurate or not, there is a sense that Ferguson is boarded up, parts are burned down, schools are closed and even the safe havens have not been safe from the encroachment of tear gas.

And then there is the Ferguson Missouri Public Library, which has stayed open and will stay open as long as library staff feel that their patrons are safe there.  This is a remarkable act of commitment to the democratic foundation of our public libraries– citizen access to information and resources in safe spaces that welcome and serve everyone.   [Read more…]

Ferguson’s Smoldering Fires

black lives matter

By Anna Daniels

It came as no surprise when St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown this past August.

Ferguson’s African American residents expected the announcement, the local and state government was preparing for it and arrangements were made well in advance for the local, national and international media to cover it.   [Read more…]

Whose Park? City Heights Struggles to Define “Our” Park

Engagement and resistance at City Height’s Park De La Cruz

By Anna Daniels

This month’s City Heights Park and Recreation Council meeting took a surprise turn when over fifty attendees, mostly young people wearing blue Mid-City CAN tee shirts, arrived to speak during the non-agenda comment section of the meeting.

These skate park advocates and their supporters had hoped to address the neighborhood concerns and opposition that had recently sprung up about the planned skate park element at Park De La Cruz. They hoped that in doing so the rec council would proceed with the scheduled design meeting on December 4 as planned.

District 9 Council Member Marti Emerald announced in July that the allocation of $4.5 million in state Department of Housing and Community Development monies was sufficient to design and construct skate parks in City Heights and Linda Vista.

The second design phase meeting for Park de la Cruz skate park modifications was scheduled for December, but the Park and Recreation Council decided to postpone that meeting and hold a community hearing on the skate park issue instead. Was this an attempt to shift the conversation from how to proceed to whether to proceed?   [Read more…]

A Week of War and Peace at the San Diego Free Press

By Anna Daniels

One week ago, the SDFP editorial board sent a short email to its writers and contributors, asking for their thoughts on the topic of War and Peace.  We were curious to see if there was an interest in this broader theme that would go beyond the usual media treatment of  Veterans Day.

Our email was immediately filled with responses. Writers sent articles, video links and poetry. We were frankly surprised at the interest.  It told us two important things.

It is apparent that there are few opportunities for civic engagement on this topic and its complex historical and contemporary elements.  It also told us that the San Diego Free Press is in a unique position to provide a platform for that civic engagement.   [Read more…]