It’s Time to Give “Gitmo” Back to the Cubans

Gitmo-300x204

By Frank Gormlie

It’s time that the U.S. give “Gitmo” – or the Guantanamo Bay prison – back to the Cubans.

It’s time to end a shameful period of our history and close down the military prison on the coastal edge of another sovereign country. It’s time that we hand Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – which we’ve held for over a hundred years – since 1903 – back to its rightful owners.

Today the population at Guantanamo is 116, a definite drop from the 242 detainees who were imprisoned when President Obama first took office. It still costs a reported $2.7 million per prisoner to house a Gitmo detainee. And over the last 13 years, the bill to keep open the place that Amnesty International called the “Gulag of our times”has been $4.7 billion.

There is no longer any reason to retain this chamber of horrors that tortured and abused people in our name, and which begot a human rights disaster.   [Read more…]

Donna Frye Calls for “Massive River Park” at Qualcomm Stadium Site

Qualcomm Stadium green scribble

By Frank Gormlie / The OB Rag

Donna Frye is trying to upset the apple cart that surrounds all the discussion about the Chargers and the Qualcomm football stadium site. On Monday, June 22nd she called for “a massive river park” at the 166-acre Mission Valley site.

In an Op-Ed piece in Voice of San Diego, Donna Frye—former City Councilwoman for the district that includes Mission Valley—called for something akin to another Balboa Park or Mission Bay Park.

In her piece, Frye dismissed the discussion about whether the Chargers want the current site and all the discussion about commercial and residential development of it, instead declared that it actually is “a big opportunity staring us right in the face—the potential to create a real San Diego River Park.”   [Read more…]

Vacation Rentals in San Diego

Airbnb-billboard

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Besides the Chargers stadium, there is no other hotter issue these days in San Diego than that of the issue of vacation rentals.  And this is particularly true in the beach and coastal communities of San Diego, like OB, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay.

It is an issue that hits close to home and is a personal one for many San Diegans. A good friend of mine just got married up in the Bay Area. He and his wedding party of 5 found a nice, roomy house in Berkeley with such a nice backyard that they held their ceremony there. They had found the place on Airbnb after another real bed and breakfast had cancelled on them at the last moment.   [Read more…]

Will City of San Diego Make Dubious Move to Get Blanket CEQA Exemption for Mission Valley Stadium?

Qualcomm Stadium

Is the City of San Diego about to go for a blanket CEQA exemption for the Mission Valley stadium?

Dan McLellan thinks so. He used to sit on the San Diego Stadium Coalition, was its vice-president for awhile and is a longtime ardent Chargers fan. He departed the group so he could speak out more aggressively, he told us.

McLellan thinks that all evidence points to the city attempting – what he terms “the legally dubious move”- of getting a blanket CEQA exemption in order to advance any proposed stadium project to a December 15th vote – which has been proposed by Mayor Faulconer just recently.   [Read more…]

Birds of Paradise Art Show at Te Mana Cafe

Mic Porte Bird of Paradise: Mic

For the remainder of June, local beach artist Micaela Porte is displaying her recent works – Birds of Paradise – at Te Mana Cafe in Ocean Beach, over at 4956 Voltaire Street.

The show has been running since the end of April. They’re open daily until 6 pm, closed Wednesdays.

Micaela told us that acrylic paint, some old canvases and bird of paradise heads from one of her neighbor’s yard inspired a binge of colorful paintings of bird of paradise flowers – which all harmonize with the aloha theme at the Te Mana garden cafe.   [Read more…]

NSA Collection of American Phone Records Ends – Thanks to Edward Snowden

Photo by DonkeyHotey

Halt to Records Collection Probably Temporary As Senate Expected to Pass Reform Measure

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

As of today – June 1st – the National Security Agency is no longer legally allowed to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk.  The NSA massive collection of telephone records ended at 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday, right after the Senate failed to pass a measure to extend the controversial program, part of the Patriot Act.

And Americans can thank Edward Snowden for it. Snowden was the one who heroically revealed the massive surveillance program to the American public and is now sitting in Russia for his punishment.   [Read more…]

Mission Valley Watch

Editor: This is the launch of what we hope is a regular report in the San Diego Free Press, via our online media partner, the OB Rag.

Somebody needs to be watching Mission Valley – the long congested corridor that is literally the heart of San Diego. And certainly, it’s not the City of San Diego that is watching Mission Valley – or rather watching out for it. And certainly, it’s not the major mainstream media in this town either that are watching Mission Valley – with one HUGE exception: the nearly-exclusive and obsessive focus on the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Yet Mission Valley certainly does need to be watched because the construction projects that are being built and are in the pipeline to being built in the next few years will quite double – or even triple – the current population of the Valley of 20,000 San Diegans. The projects will double the number of housing units that are already there.

The problem with this is that there isn’t even the public infrastructure now that is required to serve the thousands of current Mission Valley residents, much less the needs of (and this is a conservative estimate) a future populace that has undergone growth of one hundred percent. The projects planned and even approved will further destroy what remains of the once, lush green valley that in earlier days, held the promise of becoming the Central Park or the Golden Gate Park of San Diego.   [Read more…]

Californians Won’t Take the Drought Seriously Until Government Takes the Drought Seriously With These 5 Measures

Californians want immediate action from their government

The citizens of California will not take the drought seriously until they see that their government is taking the drought seriously. Until government at all levels – from the state to the smallest township – shows Californians that it is enacting measures to immediately deal with the drought – now in its 4th year – people in this state won’t face up to the drought themselves.

And until government enacts these 5 measures – at a minimum – , government is not taking the drought seriously:

1. Ban All Fracking

California must ban all fracking immediately – the process by which oil companies use to extract oil.   [Read more…]

San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The City of San Diego has finally allowed the opening of the City’s very first medical marijuana dispensary.

This opening of the first “legal” pot shop in San Diego comes 19 years after California voters passed Prop 215, making medical marijuana legal.

And the County of San Diego has only allowed one dispensary to open to date – a storefront opened last summer in an unincorporated area outside El Cajon.

The shameful history of nearly 2 decades for both the City and County of San Diego that viewed together initiated delays, stalls, and outright resistance to the spirit of Prop 215, stands in deep contrast to the wishes of the state’s voters.

On this issue at least, the implementation of the medical marijuana law, our local governments have been very undemocratic as they have quite openly stymied what the voters, the people, wanted.   [Read more…]

The Origins of Institutionalized Racism – a System to Control Blacks … and Whites

100 Years Before Lexington and Concord, Bacon’s Armed Rebellion of Whites and Blacks Forced Plantation Elite to Create System of Racial Slavery

By Frank Gormlie

Since the turmoil last year in Ferguson, Missouri, swept in a new civil rights movement, once again America is faced with the reality of its system of institutionalized racism. For Americans with conscience, understanding this system is key to changing it, and it cannot be understood without understanding its origins which trail back, of course, to colonial America.

Confronting a system that predates the very formation of the Republic itself necessitates understanding its raison d’etre – its reason for being. Why is there such a system that has a solid foundation and that has existed all this time, and is so deeply ingrained? Why is there institutionalized racism? If one accepts such a premise, that there is such a thing, then the most obvious answer is that it exists to control blacks, African-Americans. And to control other minorities, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans.

Yet this system is not meant to only control blacks – and other peoples of color – but it also meant to control white people.   [Read more…]

It Was Syrian Kurd Leftists Who Kicked Islamic State Out of Kobani

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

In international news, the recent liberation of the Syrian city of Kobani from the control of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters by Syrian Kurd rebels was a little reported story which popped up briefly for its 15 minutes on the mainstream media roulette wheel of fame. Then it disappeared. But the under-reported little story – a story with a huge irony – deserves retelling.

The story – which can be pieced together from a number of media reports – involves the identity of the major fighting force that kicked ISIS out of Kobani, a city of 200,000 mainly ethnic Kurds in north Syria, a stone’s throw from the Turkish border.

It turns out it was a group of Syrian Kurd leftists who kicked ISIS’ ass, if you forgive the vernacular, after 4 months of intense house-to-house fighting, at times room-to-room, and pushed them out of the city entirely. It was the People’s Protection Units, a local leftist organization, and its affiliate, the Women’s Protection Units, that have collective command structures and believe in the equality of women, and – in fact – have numerous women commanders in the fighting units.   [Read more…]

Community Planning Boards Have Democratic Elections Because of One Group From Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach Community Planning Group Was the Forerunner to OB’s Planning Board

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

On March 10, the Ocean Beach Planning Board will hold its annual election of Board members. It will take place at the OB Rec Center. Every resident, property owner and business-owner in Ocean Beach is authorized to vote – with ID proving residency.

One of the main reasons that this election is going forward in March – as it has been for the last 39 years – is because of the vision and diligence of a small group that existed back in the 1970s. It was the persistent push over a several-year period during the mid-70s for an election of this nature – a democratic election – to a neighborhood planning committee by an organization called the Ocean Beach Community Planning Group that was ultimately responsible for this democratic gain for communities.   [Read more…]

OB’s People’s Food Expansion Plans Put on Hold

Organic Store Had Agreement With “Tiny” of Tiny’s Tavern Before His Recent Passing

By Frank Gormlie

The expansion plans of Ocean Beach’s largest employer, the famous OB People’s Organic Food Market, have been placed on hold due to the unfortunate and untimely death of “Tiny”, the owner of Tiny’s Tavern.

The market co-op, which is a mainstay on Voltaire Street in OB, has just recently purchased the two parcels of land directly to the store’s east, one containing a duplex and the other containing Tiny’s Tavern. And part of the store’s expansion plans were based on an agreement with “Tiny” who was on the verge of retiring from operating his bar and small grill. “Tiny” – the nickname of Alan Kajiwara – had planned to use the land sale to the co-op as a push for him to move back to Hawaii where he has family, but his fatal stroke at the age of 54 ended all that.   [Read more…]

Despite Disappointing Turnout, 100 San Diegans March 4 Miles for Justice

By Frank Gormlie

It wasn’t a massive turnout here in San Diego Monday for the 4 Mile March – far from it – but you can’t get away from the fact that one hundred San Diegans did march four miles for social justice in an effort to rekindle Martin Luther King’s militancy on his celebrated birthday.

San Diego joined a list of at least 30 other cities nationwide that also had “4MileMarches”. A small crowd of around 140 gathered at the City Heights park next to its library – about a quarter African-Americans – , and listened to a few speeches from the organizers of the different groups that set up the event. The event had been planned by United Against Police Terror – San Diego, Activist San Diego, the local branch of the International Socialist Organization, and the Coalition Against Police Violence.

The speakers spoke of institutional racism, the killings by police of young Black men – and in San Diego – of young Latino men, of the connections between the days of Martin Luther King with today. They spoke of the need to strengthen an independent civilian police review board, of how leaders such as Mayor Faulconer and District Attorney Dumanis have failed the African-American community.   [Read more…]

Civita: The Largest Project in the Continued Destruction of Mission Valley

Part 2

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
In mid-October I wrote about how four large residential and commercial development projects and a handful of smaller ones slated for Mission Valley will complete the destruction of San Diego’s once lush green valley. Here, I begin to focus on the individual projects.

“Civita” roughly translated is Latin for citizenship, and it’s the name of the largest, most massive Mission Valley development going in right now – with perhaps a third already completed or being currently built. Once you step back and realize it’s scope, Civita is at once a horrifying and amazing place for all its audaciousness.

  [Read more…]

Is This Graffiti or Not?

Billboard Linked to OB Lawyer an Eyesore in East County

By Frank Gormlie

We all think we know what graffiti is when we see it, especially spray-painted tagging team symbols.

But aren’t there other types of graffiti?

How about the marking of public space by a group or company that mars that public space for a profit? That marking and marring of public space can be done by a commercial sign or billboard.   [Read more…]

The New Civil Rights Movement That Can Save America

Not sure of what to call this new movement, this movement that sprang off of the failure to indict the white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in the shooting death of Michael Brown, and which is now a nation-wide daily outpouring of militant demonstrations against the murders of Black men and police brutality and violence.

Despite the unprovoked shooting deaths last Saturday of two police officers in New York City by a Black man with mental problems unconnected with the protests, the movement must go on and it must go on daily. The movement cannot allow this shooting or the backlash against the protests to stall its journey.

These daily demonstrations and protests that have been going on across the country have kept the issues in front of us and they have been so inspiring.

  [Read more…]

Use “San Salvador” Replica to Tell the True Story of What Happened to Native Americans in San Diego and California

Continuing the Debate: Is the San Salvador Replica a “Symbol of Genocide” or a “Marketing Tool for San Diego”? or can it be used to tell the true story?

In the interests of continuing the debate of the controversy that has arisen over the current construction of the San Salvador , the replica of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo’s flagship, which is being built at Spanish Landing in San Diego Bay by the Maritime Museum, we offer the following comments.

We’re certain that the building of the replica of the San Salvador, is widely known around town by now, and many even know that most of the construction is being accomplished by volunteers using the “original” tools and methods of the 16th century. There are tours, displays and some PR by the San Diego Maritime Museum.

In fact, the Museum is planning to stage the official launch of the vessel in late February 2015.

As it is a local story of interest, the OB Rag has covered the building of the ship several times, with photo essays, a focus on the volunteers – particularly the women volunteers, the craftsmanship, tools and imported wood.

Yet, our coverage has encouraged discussion, and because of our posts here and at our online media partner, San Diego Free Press, a debate has arisen – as the construction of the replica of the 500-year ship has run into a wall of controversy.

Originally Posted at the OBRag   [Read more…]

It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

By Frank Gormlie

This is the 7th birthday for the online OB Rag. During the October fires of 2007, Patty Jones and I launched the OB Rag out of our small cottage on Long Branch Avenue. Many of our early articles critiqued both the mainstream media’s coverage of the fires plus how the fires were being fought.

Seven years later, much has changed, of course. We’ve gone from a little-known blog to one of the best community-based websites in Southern California, which is constantly referred to by the local mainstream media, police, and local politicians, and occasionally we make the national news. Other notes of interest: quotes from the OB Rag made it up on the ceiling of OB’s newest public “comfort station” on the beach – whose design won an Orchid Award in 2012.   [Read more…]

Malin Burnham and the U-T San Diego Idea Factory

union-tribunefrontbldgPart Two of two parts

By Frank Gormlie

As we delve more now in Part Two into Malin Burnham, “the last Corte Maderan” as Mike Davis calls him, and his possible take-over of San Diego’s only daily newspaper, longtime City Heights community activist, Anna Daniels, one of the editors at San Diego Free Press, cautioned:

When the news broke that Malin Burnham was interested in purchasing the U-T San Diego with the intent of turning it into a non-profit, the main and often only description of him was as a San Diego “philanthropist”. And it is true–Burnham is known for his extensive philanthropy.

He is also known for his role as a local real estate developer, as chairman of First National Bank at San Diego and as a former Director of San Diego Gas and Electric. It might prove useful in the future to keep these other interests in mind.

Malin Burnham fullWhich pretty much sums up Part One for me. As City Hall veteran, Norma Damashek, reminded us:

As you know, Burnham has been a VIP mover and shaker in San Diego for decades. He’s not stingy with his money. Some is philanthropy, some is strictly political.

It’s also useful to know that Burnham represents a wing of the local Establishment that has challenged the other, more conservative wing on numerous occasions – with the back and forth between the different factions going for decades.   [Read more…]

What Does Malin Burnham’s Possible Take-Over of the U-T San Diego Mean?

Malin Burnham fullhueAs ‘Old-Money’ Point Loman Burnham emerges to operate San Diego’s daily, questions are raised whether this is the “Moderate Wing” of the Establishment reasserting itself?

Part One of two parts.

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The news has been out for nearly a month now that well known wheeler-dealer and financier Malin Burnham of Point Loma has initiated efforts to purchase the U-T San Diego from Doug Manchester, the current owner and publisher.

Burnham, who calls himself a moderate Republican and who has lived in Point Loma all his life, told the press that he is the spokesman for a 5-man group of economic power-brokers who want to form a non-profit that will take over the newspaper and run it as a profit-making enterprise. Any profits, Burnham has pledged, would go back into community charities. Now as crazy as that plan might seem in this day and age of folding newspapers and expanding internet news sites, there are at least two other major dailies in the country that are run by non-profits. …   [Read more…]

How to Destroy Mission Valley

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

If you want to destroy Mission Valley, what’s coming down the development pipeline will surely do it for you. There are four massive residential and commercial projects and another giant handful of minor ones- all in various stages of blueprints, planning and construction – heading for this landmark river canyon. If all are built – the total impact would permanently damage Mission Valley to the point where the Valley that we now know would no longer be there.

Some old-timers believe Mission Valley was destroyed a long time ago, when it was a long, lush valley of dairy farms and agricultural fields. Then the hotels, resorts, golf courses and freeways came and Mission Valley lost its beauty, serenity, and its soul.

Ironically then, there’s also another group of “old-timers” – a special group – a group of Mission Valley landowning families – who have their own plans to develop and damage the Valley even further.   [Read more…]

Three Years Ago this Month the Occupy Wall Street Movement Burst Upon San Diego

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

It was October 7th, in the year 2011, that the Occupy Wall Street movement hit San Diego.

In a huge outpouring of demonstrators, up to 4,000 San Diegans marched through the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego – mainly protesting for social and economic justice, against the state of the economy and the role of banks and Wall Street responsible for the financial downturn. Occupy San Diego was born in a giant – for San Diego – protest in solidarity with the rest of the country and particularly those in New York City – where the Occupy movement began.   [Read more…]

Backlash Grows Over Private Clubs’ Use of Public Beaches

The backlash is growing – the backlash against the use of our public beaches and coast areas by private clubs who host work-outs, volleyball games and yoga classes. About a week ago, the U-T published an article entitled, “Residents Cry Foul at Beach Courts’ Access” – how Carlsbad residents and beach-goers are complaining about a private volleyball club agreement with the state that gives their members priority on volleyball courts.

This echoes a “reader rant” just this summer here on the OB Rag about how a surf school takes too much space on the beach as well as in the ocean. The writer’s complaints about lack of access and safety issues found a lot of resonance among the commenters.
  [Read more…]

Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris – he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday. He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed. Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair. All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days. The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

The deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park is not fair, he said in so many words.

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

  [Read more…]