SeaWorld’s Crying the Blues Over Orca Breeding Ban


By Doug Porter

There was good news and bad news for SeaWorld at Thursday’s meeting of the California Coastal Commission.

SeaWorld prevailed in its quest to nearly double the size of its killer whale enclosure, to be marketed as the Blue World Project, despite an ongoing campaign by animal rights activists urging a no vote from the panel.

The bad news was the condition barring the theme park from acquiring any further orcas by way of breeding, artificial insemination or transfers. When the current batch of 11 whales reaches old age there will be no replacements, meaning the $100 million or so SeaWorld was getting ready to throw at the project looks not-so-good. I smell a lawsuit a’coming.   [Read more…]

Planning My Garden for an El Niño Winter


By Jeeni Criscenzo

Now that my knee is healing, and the weather is cooling off a bit, my attention is turning back to my garden. Knee problems aside, the oppressive heat of the past two months pretty much silenced the siren call of my garden. Just dragging my sweaty self out to feed the chickens was my quota of physical exertion for the day. Some evenings didn’t even cool enough to inspire my meditative stroll through the succulent labyrinth.

Resigned that my vegetable garden this summer was a total disaster, I had removed all of the fencing that kept the chickens out of my raised beds. So while I wasn’t working, the chickens were.   [Read more…]

Charger Stadium Deal Could Be Key in Block vs Atkins Senate Contest


By Doug Porter

New polling from the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group indicates increased voter awareness of Assemblywoman Toni Atkins willingness to ease environmental challenges to a proposed publicly subsidized NFL stadium in San Diego may be her Achilles heel.

The September 24-26 survey of a representative sample of 401 likely 39th Senate district primary voters was, according to a summary issued by Hart Research, fully representative of the district by geography, inclusive of variables such as race and partisanship, and has a margin of error of ±5.0 percentage points.

The summary indicated Atkins name recognition and favorability rating are higher among voters on first blush. When voters were presented with positive, similarly long descriptions of both candidates, incumbent Senator Marty Block gained ground. A shorter comparative description mentioning Atkins’s willingness to ease CEQA challenges to the proposed NFL stadium, voter preferences shifted to give Block a 46-to-35 advantage over Atkins.   [Read more…]

California Here We Go: $15 Minimum Wage Headed for Statewide Ballot


By Doug Porter

California advocates for a statewide $15 per hour minimum wage are marshaling their forces in support of a November 2016 initiative. The mayors of San Francisco and Oakland, cities which have already passed increases, appeared at a press conference on Tuesday to announce they will be leading the effort. The measure was submitted to the state by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.

The Fair Wage Act of 2016 will raise the minimum wage for all California workers by $1 annually, effective January 2017. Once the minimum wage reaches $15, it will automatically go up each year to match the cost of living. The state’s minimum wage is currently $9 an hour and is set to rise to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. Cities will continue to have the option of setting higher local minimum wages.

San Diego events related to the Fight for $15 movement are already planned as part of the build-up to next year’s election. A regional wage hearing set for October 17th will hear testimony from workers, economists, academics, students, and labor leaders as a prelude to garnering commitments from local political leaders. A Day of Action in November will see protests on college campuses, at fast food restaurants, and in downtown San Diego.   [Read more…]

Escondido’s Secretive Appearance Committee Decides What’s Art and What’s Not


By Wendy Wilson /Alianza North County

“There is no Federal constitutional issue more grave than the effort by government officials to censor works of expression and to threaten the vitality of a major cultural institution, as punishment for failing to abide by government demand for orthodoxy,” said U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in the case, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences vs. City of New York.

When the City Manager of Escondido, Clay Philips, turned a city committee called the “appearance committee” into his own personal censorship group, First Amendment advocates started to pay attention.  This committee was originally created to regulate what color downtown business owners could paint their buildings in the downtown historic district.  

Under Clay Phillips office, with the consent of Mayor Abed and council people Gallo, Morasco and Masson, this closed committee has transformed into a tool for city censorship.  This taxpayer funded city committee meets to decide city regulations with no publically elected officials and no publically posted or published meeting times.   [Read more…]

SANDAG, Water Agencies Faith Based Planning


By Doug Porter

Two incredulous tales about the agencies entrusted to look out for the public good opting for short-sighted policies grabbed my attention this morning. Apparently climate change is a mere bureaucratic hurdle and the drought is soon to be forgotten. I guess we just gotta have faith, baby.

Our regional transportation planners are set to approve a proposal no better than the one already rejected by the courts for failing to meet state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to the group that took them to court in the first place.

Ten local water agencies are, according to a story in Voice of San Diego, questioning state regulators about the need to continue restrictions on water use. They’re banking on a return to normalcy with the advent of El Nino conditions this winter, and are apparently ignorant of long term trends due to climate change.   [Read more…]

Effective Altruism: Is It Up To Rich People To Save the World?


By John Lawrence

Peter Singer has written a book The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically (Yale University Press, 2015). Singer has been called “the world’s greatest living philosopher” and is currently a Professor at Princeton so we must take his work seriously. Yet I’m bothered by the implications of his work as condensed in an essay: How You Can Do the Most Good: It’s Not as Simple as You Think.

He tells about one of his students who, though caring to extreme about the plight of poor people in the world, nevertheless, chose to go to work on Wall Street when he graduated. His reasoning was that he could help the most poverty stricken by dedicating a large amount of his considerable salary to helping them rather than going to work as a volunteer working directly with them in Africa, for instance.

A huge amount of money contributed to the right charities would alleviate the conditions of more people than would be helped by a person of meager resources who devoted his working efforts to their cause.   [Read more…]

A Defining Issue for the 2016 Elections Will Be the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)


By Doug Porter

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations have agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, one promising to set international commerce standards affecting 40% percent of the world’s economy.

The deal culminates years of negotiations setting up mechanics for a global economy as the basis for future prosperity. These negotiations never involved questioning the premise of neo-liberal policies as the foundation for economic development in the years ahead. In a nutshell, this means “marketplace” will be the final arbiter in the global economy.

The rules of the economic game, as laid out in previous trade-pacts, are seen by the left as driving forces in the widening of economic inequality. This, along with parochial and nationalist concerns on the right, sets up the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) as a defining political battle as the US heads into an election year.   [Read more…]

Do All “Black Lives Matter?”

Two Moms

By Ernie McCray

Damn. One day I’m writing a piece concerning discrimination against lesbians and gays, making a pitch for us to let the now proverbial Adam and Steve or Alanna and Eve feel at ease in just being themselves.

And the very next day, to my dismay, I hear of a little 5-year-old black girl who is kicked out of a school, the Mt. Erie Christian Academy, because she has two moms.

Whoa, right back where I started from. Another story about “beliefs.” Christian beliefs. But I just have to say I can’t see Christ turning some child away from a school with some lame excuse like “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin,” making that little girl, in essence, a victim of her mothers’ sins.   [Read more…]

San Diego Democrats to Progressive Base: We’re Just Not That Into You

via Facebook

By Jim Miller

Last week over at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Logan Jenkins had some fun pondering what might happen if the “Dems go dark” this upcoming mayoral election.   His conclusion?  It would push Faulconer to the top-tier of Republican candidates for Governor in 2018:

And, it should be deduced, a cakewalk sweetens Faulconer’s prospects in Sacramento.

In 18 months or so, Republicans will be looking for a governor candidate who can appeal to Latinos and independents as well as the conservative base. The Democrats have a long electable bench. Republicans? Not so much.

If Faulconer is re-elected by a landslide in a major Democratic city, he’s going to rise to the top tier of the GOP’s A+ list.

  [Read more…]

Looking Back at the Week: Sept 27-Oct 3


This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, toons, and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors, and sourced writers on: standing with PP, the continuing saga of Marne Foster, gun nuts excusing another school massacre, letting Adam and Steve be, dancing to Narcocorridos, random acts of kindness, the passing of Judy Oliveira, a balanced transportation future in SD, the signature stings in Carlsbad, Maria returning to Delano, a diary of a Karen refugee and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views from San Diego’s friendly, neighborhood, all volunteer, community news site.   [Read more…]

Oregon College Massacre, More Gun Nut Excuses


By Doug Porter

A very disturbed 26-year-old man killed nine people and injured seven others at a community college in Oregon on October 1st. He was killed in a gunfight with police officers responding to 911 calls.

The President made his 15th appearance to address the nation following a mass shooting. He was obviously very angry and frustrated.

The blowback from the right edge of the flat-earthers was, as usual, both ignorant and infuriating.   [Read more…]

University Contract Workers Wages –Or Lack Thereof– in the Crosshairs


By Doug Porter

Today (Oct 1), some contract employees working on University of California facilities will be seeing a pay hike to $13 an hour. The university system is California’s third largest employer and the largest employer in San Diego.

Earlier this year UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a three-year roll-out for all workers, including contract ones, and today’s bump is just the first stage.  

Or maybe they won’t be seeing that raise. The Los Angeles Times reports the Department of Labor has launched an investigation into long-time contractor Performance First Building Services failure to pay overtime to workers cleaning up after sporting events at UC Berkeley.   [Read more…]

Random Acts of Kindess


By Jeeni Criscenzo

Thoughts while enjoying the super moon during the lunar eclipse of Sept. 27, 2015

Although raised Roman Catholic and indoctrinated with 12 years of Catechism classes in parochial school, I decided, even before graduating high school that neither Catholicism nor any religion, was for me. When the Sisters of Charity taught that faith is a gift, I responded that I didn’t get the gift and didn’t want it. Long before I was “expelled” from the church for marrying a second time, I had decided that I could be a good person without following rules written by men who “believed” the earth was flat.

So as I followed the coverage of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, I kept in mind that he was the leader of a faith that will not relinquish power to women to make their own medical decisions or to give them access to leadership as priests, bishops or the papacy.   [Read more…]

School Board Trustee Praised, Defended and Investigated, All in a Day at San Diego Unified


By Doug Porter

School Board Trustee Marne Foster is at the center of several controversies in the San Diego Unified School District. A meeting of the trustees yesterday featured numerous TV trucks lined up outside, partisans and opponents inside, along with three distinct actions and enough drama for a cable mini-series.

Documents released by the district answered many questions raised concerning the School of Creative and Performing Arts, at the center of the current controversy. Responding to charges that Trustee Foster had intervened in school affairs on behalf of her son, the district’s documents amounted to a master class in how to respond to a political controversy: hit’em [critics] hard and hit ‘em long. This situation is far from resolved, however.

Also, the school board authorized an investigation into Trustee Foster’s involvement in a fundraiser on behalf of her son’s college fund and a claim filed against the district allegedly by the child’s father. And they passed a resolution praising Foster for her work promoting equity in the district.  Confused yet? It is complicated, to be sure.   [Read more…]

I Hope We Can Finally Just Let Adam and Steve Be

Marriage Equality

(No Matter What our Beliefs Happen to Be)

This Kim Davis situation is just too familiar for my liking, too much like it has always been in this country based on what I’ve seen in 77 years.

I mean I have no idea what this woman’s work entails in a day. But one of her tasks seems, to me, like a dream job, where all she’d have to do is a little soft shoe with jazz hands and a big smile and sing: “Howdy do. Congratulations, you two. Here’s your marriage license. Toddle-oo!”

But she can only do that for “Adam and Eve.” “Adam and Steve” or any woman whose honey is a she has to be insulted by her for all the world to see because of what her scripture has taught her to believe.   [Read more…]

Stand Up for Planned Parenthood on #PinkOutDay in San Diego


By Doug Porter

Today’s the day. Three months into the latest effort by the self-righteous right to make women’s health into a wedge issue, supporters of Planned Parenthood are standing up for their cause.

There are 4 “Pink Out Day” events in San Diego County and 249 actions around the country planned for September 29th. Coincidentally (okay, maybe not), this is also the same day Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards will face off against the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Back in July, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood doctors selling parts from aborted fetuses to researchers for profit, which would have been illegal. The videos were selectively edited. The people behind the CMP have a long history of harassing medical personnel and women visiting clinics.   [Read more…]

Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

Mike Mozart/Flickr

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.   [Read more…]

Congressional Values: “Zippidy do-da, zippidy day.”


By Doug Porter

Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.

While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.

It was, after all, the crowd at the political conference for American social conservative activists that gave a standing ovation after hearing news of the Ohio congressman’s resignation.   [Read more…]

Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

healthy planet

By Jim Miller

Last week the Pope came to America and delivered his groundbreaking message about the interrelated problems of climate change and economic inequality as well as the moral imperative to act to address them.  

We heard this message at the same time we learned that we have lost half the world’s marine animals since 1970 and that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the human role in climate change decades ago even as they were heavily funding efforts to block solutions.  During all of this, we were also reminded that every GOP candidate for President has absolutely nothing to offer in the face of this deadly threat.  

Clearly we need to change the game and do it quickly.  But how?     [Read more…]

Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals

via Citizens for North County Facebook

Strawberry Field Owner’s Campaign Donations Revealed

By Richard Riehl

It must have been quite a shock for L.A.’s Caruso Affiliated executives to see the stack of signed petitions delivered to the Carlsbad city clerk’s office last Thursday. The 9,000 signers of the referendum petition are calling for a public vote on the developer’s plan for a lagoon-view shopping center, as promised in the title of the initiative, Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters.

When the Carlsbad city Council unanimously approved his plan on August 25, Caruso had already spent nearly $3 million on signature gatherers and a blizzard of glossy, full-color mailers to persuade 20,000 Carlsbadians that his plan to build a shopping mall was all about saving the Strawberry Fields.

The day after the council voted, a grassroots group, Citizens for North County, announced its plan to launch a referendum drive. Caruso had to redouble his marketing campaign. But this time his mailers, accompanied by daily prime time TV ads, featured headshot photos of and quotes from all five city Council members, as well as the owner of the Strawberry Fields. Each repeated the lie that signing the referendum would destroy the Strawberry Fields, despite the promise of Prop D to preserve them, passed by voters in 2006. The Caruso mailer included a detachable, postage-paid card to return to the city clerk for signers of the referendum to have their names withdrawn.   [Read more…]

The Movement for a Balanced Transportation Future In the San Diego Region

Photo by Roebot

By Monique López, policy advocate at Environmental Health Coalition

We all need to move, and how we move influences our quality of life. The time of our commute, the safety of our sidewalks, the quality of our air and the type of transportation options we have determine how well we live our lives. On October 9, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will decide how to invest $204 billion into our region’s transportation infrastructure.

This decision is critical to our livelihood. That much investment will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in our region, particularly the lives of those in San Diego’s urban core where freeways intersect neighborhoods and transit, biking and walking infrastructure is scarce.

How these funds are invested will determine whether our region takes a step toward becoming a forward-thinking, sustainable place or whether we remain driving in circles, stuck in the incessant traffic jam that is our car-first mentality.   [Read more…]