Columns

Thumbnail image for Baseball is Not a Metaphor

Baseball is Not a Metaphor

by Jim Miller 03.30.2015 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

So you spend a great deal of your time telling them to keep their heads up and to stay in it. Indeed, the game is hard enough that, for lots of our young people bent on more immediate gratification, the patience and work it takes to get better is too much for them.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: March 22-28

Looking Back at the Week: March 22-28

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.29.2015 Looking Back at the Week

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles by San Diego Free Press and OB Rag regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors and sourced writers on the “Death for Gays” initiative, marijuana legalization, easier voting, Civic San Diego, evil SD Bay monster, Obamacare hypocrite Ted Cruz, an ode to the Surfing Madonna, the criminal HBSC, California’s drought, Zurbarán and Sorolla, Uptown Planners hating on cyclists, Donna Frye on open government and a tsunami of Ocean Beach news.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Coach Pinkerton Ushers In a Golden Age of Sports

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Coach Pinkerton Ushers In a Golden Age of Sports

by Maria E. Garcia 03.28.2015 History of Neighborhood House

By Maria E. Garcia

Coach Pinkerton came to Neighborhood House in 1943. News articles described him as the person hired to find a cure for crime and juvenile delinquency that was occurring as a result of family upheaval during the Depression and World War II. The “cure” was popular and successful athletic programs in which 125- 135 boys, from age 8 to 18, used the Neighborhood House facilities every day.

The Logan Heights Old Timers Club which meets once a month at the National City IHOP provided me with the opportunity to talk to men ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s who participated in those athletic programs. I also spoke with women who attended Neighborhood House during those years. In Part I, Merlin Pinkerton, Mentor and Coach, these men and women describe the qualities that made Pinkerton a father figure, confident and role model.

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Thumbnail image for Voting Made Easier: Legislative Actions Aim to Make Elections More Accessible

Voting Made Easier: Legislative Actions Aim to Make Elections More Accessible

by Doug Porter 03.27.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

San Diego legislators at both the federal and state level are working to remove barriers limiting voter participation. 

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla are proposing to register every eligible resident who goes to a DMV to get a license or renew one, with the ability to opt out. In Washington DC, Congresswoman Susan Davis has introduced legislation ending constraints on voting by mail. 

Research recently published in the Oxford Political Analysis Journal indicates that as many as an additional four million Americans wanted to vote in the 2012 election , but were stymied by restrictions on voter registration. California currently ranks 38th out of the 50 states in voter registration. 

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

by Anna Daniels 03.27.2015 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

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?

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

Geo-Poetic Spaces: The Surfing Madonna

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.27.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Our Lady of Encinitas
is sliding down the lip of a wave
on rails

Lotus sun
unfolding

Wind thrashed tunic
splashing
light

Palms pressing
misty beads into prayers
the fin of her hands
carving
blue glass

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Thumbnail image for Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

Ted Cruz Signs Up for Obamacare

by Junco Canché 03.27.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

by Doug Porter 03.26.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy is releasing an interim report today outlining issues needing to be addressed in any legalization measures going before voters in 2016.

The commission, led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and including the ACLU, assorted academics, activists along with, law enforcement officials, will not officially take a position on legalization. Public forums in cities around the state will soon be announced as part of forming a policy road map towards legalization. Issues such as taxes, driving under the influence and a means for prohibiting access to minors are among those being considered.

The panel hopes to have its policy analysis completed by August.

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Thumbnail image for California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

by Doug Porter 03.25.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The higher prices Californians pay for gasoline was the focus of a hearing chaired by San Diego’s Sen. Ben Hueso this week.

A report issued by the Consumer Watchdog group alleges consumers were gouged for an extra $550 million at the gas pump during February as the result of a strategy by refiners to keep inventories artificially low. The group came to this conclusion by calculating the difference between US and state prices and allotting for consumption.

Members of the transportation, housing and energy, utilities and communications committees questioned energy industry executives about recent price spikes in California. Earlier this week Californians were paying 84 cents more per gallon than the rest of the nation for their gasoline.

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Thumbnail image for An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

An Evil Monster Rises from the Depths of San Diego Bay

by Junco Canché 03.25.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Old Town Mobilizing to Save Historic Trees from City Project

Old Town Mobilizing to Save Historic Trees from City Project

by Doug Porter 03.24.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Old Town residents are scrambling to save aging California Pepper Canopy trees from removal along a corridor bordering State Historic Park and the City Golf Course.

Back in late August Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other city officials staged a press conference in Old Town to announce a major infrastructure project.

The Mayor proclaimed the Juan Street Replacement Project to be “…a perfect example of the city’s one dig philosophy….” In addition to replacing the water main, the street would be repaved and sidewalks would be  replaced

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Thumbnail image for The New American Order: On the Path to Plutocracy

The New American Order: On the Path to Plutocracy

by At Large 03.24.2015 Editor's Picks

1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of “We the People”

By Tom Engelhardt / TomDispatch

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

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Thumbnail image for The Spring Garden Thing!

The Spring Garden Thing!

by Susan Taylor 03.24.2015 Editor's Picks

By Susan Taylor

The flatlanders in San Diego had somewhere between 1-2 inches of rain recently and I hear the call of school gardens asking, “Can we plant something?” Of course we can, so let’s get going.

On a recent stroll along the boardwalk towards South Mission Beach, I dipped into the tiny streets between the boardwalk and Mission Blvd and saw so many interesting growing things. One idea I’ve already tried is to take a hanging succulent cutting, let it harden off for a couple of days and here’s what’s next–wrap a handful of soil around the root (to be) end and then add some coir or even a paper towel. Moisten the whole wrap and nest it into the crotch of a tree branch. I used a rubber band to tighten the whole thing. Maybe you’ll have a hanging plant growing thingy before you know it…it looks very sophisticated and like the gardener knows what he/she is doing!

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Thumbnail image for Bible Lawyer Seeking ‘Death for Gays’ Initiative in 2016

Bible Lawyer Seeking ‘Death for Gays’ Initiative in 2016

by Doug Porter 03.23.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A decade ago Huntington Beach attorney Matt McLaughlin paid $200 and gained approval from the secretary of state’s office to gather signatures for the King James Bible as Textbook initiative, which would have amended the state Constitution to allow the Bible to be used as a textbook. 

McLaughlin and his six supporters failed to gather the nearly six hundred thousand signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot in 2004. 

He’s come up with another $200, and given the poor voter turnout in the most recent election, he’s hoping his Sodomite Suppression Act can get the 365,000 signatures it needs to make it legal to summarily execute gay people in California. 

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Thumbnail image for The Public Education Reporting Charade

The Public Education Reporting Charade

by Jim Miller 03.23.2015 Columns

What if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place?

By Jim Miller

Recently, with “California’s Public Education Charade,” UT-San Diego shocked no one by publishing yet another anti-union, teacher-bashing editorial that attacks California’s “dominant Democratic Party” for believing that “what’s good for the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers is good for California. And what’s good for students, who cares?”

The sins of California’s Democrats, the State Board of Education, and their sinister union bosses include the decision to “suspend the Academic Performance Index [API] for a second year as the state moves to a more complex system of evaluating school and district performance” and failing to robustly follow the lead of the misguided Vergara decision which blamed tenure for the struggles of low-income minority students. California, the editorial board laments, has made it “even more difficult to fire bad teachers.”

Of course, these are precisely the kind of oft-repeated yet totally unfounded assertions one hears about public education and teachers from not just the mouthpiece of Manchester but from far too many in the media. Just because they keep saying it, however, doesn’t make it true.

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Thumbnail image for California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

by Source 03.23.2015 Business

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers touted the introduction of drought legislation in the Legislature on March 19, while leaders of environmental and corporate watchdog groups urged Brown to put real limits on the “most egregious” water users – corporate agribusiness and big oil companies – to really address the drought.

Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin to unveil legislation that they claimed will “help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought.”

A statement from the Governor’s Office said the package will expedite bond funding to “make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.”

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

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

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

by Frank Gormlie 03.22.2015 Business

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.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Merlin Pinkerton, Mentor and Coach

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Merlin Pinkerton, Mentor and Coach

by Maria E. Garcia 03.21.2015 Editor's Picks

By Maria E. Garcia

Once a month the Logan Heights Old Timers meet for breakfast at the IHOP in National City. At one of those meetings I asked them to share their memories about Coach Merlin Pinkerton. Coach Pinkerton came to Neighborhood House in 1943.

The people quoted in this article are between the ages of 65 and 95 and yet their memories of Coach Pinkerton are clear and reflect the love they felt for him. The question becomes how did this man become the most loved and respected coach in the history of Neighborhood House? What did he do and how did he do it?

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Thumbnail image for The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

by Doug Porter 03.20.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s a special meeting of the Uptown Planners next Tuesday (March 24) to discuss overriding the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan in Mission Hills and Hillcrest. Cycling advocates are expected to face off against various organizations and people opposed to proposed traffic changes in the area.

This meeting is, I think, symbolic of a larger battle going on over the future of transportation in the city. While all the organizations involved give lip service to the Climate Action Plan’s goal of 18% bike mode share in Uptown by 2035, there are individuals who come across as negative about actually doing anything to achieve the goal.

Despite a growing body of evidence contradicting what some small businesspeople assume about the negative impact of bike lanes, parking spaces and traffic calming measures, when it gets down to an actual plan, all they can say is “no.” (Kinda like the GOP on their alternative to Obamacare, I think.) 

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Show me a tree
that does not
bear signs of loss

Branches broken
by splintering rainstorms
still carried in trunks

Wounds healed
but not
forgotten

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Thumbnail image for The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

by Source 03.20.2015 Economy

The budget plan ‘fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead,’ says Congressional Progressive Caucus
By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

Offering a sustainable alternative to regressive federal budget proposals put forth this week by the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday released The People’s Budget: A Raise for America, which aims to “level the playing field” for low- and middle-income Americans.

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Thumbnail image for Here Come the Obama ‘Vote or Die’ Squads

Here Come the Obama ‘Vote or Die’ Squads

by Doug Porter 03.19.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

Following a speech before the City Club of Cleveland yesterday, President Obama responded to a question about the influence of money in elections by talking about universal voting as a solution.

Cue the conservative outrage: “Obama calls for mandatory voting in U.S.,” screamed one headline. At UT-San Diego the headline was toned down to “OBAMA FLOATS IDEA OF MANDATORY VOTING IN U.S.”

This story is a really sad commentary on the state of American “journalism.” The President spends and hour and a half speaking about economic policy in front of a business group. This one quip is going to end up being passed around on the internet as something along the lines of ‘The Black Panthers Are Going to Force People to Vote.” There’s probably an email smoldering in my backup account as I’m writing this.

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Thumbnail image for Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

by Eric J. Garcia 03.19.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Justice Department SDPD Report: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Justice Department SDPD Report: Garbage In, Garbage Out

by Doug Porter 03.18.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

The 85 page report released yesterday on the San Diego Police Department did exactly what it was intended to do: reassure the public that everything was under control. A constant stream of bad publicity and lawsuits resulting from accusations of police misconduct and lawlessness led the city to seek outside help a year ago and the Justice Department was glad to oblige.

The Police Executive Research Forum, paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), conducted a review of management practices and made 40 recommendations. City officials told a press conference that many of those suggestions were already being implemented and others could be accomplished if funding was made available. 

UT-San Diego reported that a separate FBI investigation into alleged on-duty criminal conduct by officers is ongoing. Attorneys for victims who have already settled lawsuits against the city, along with community activists and civil liberties groups expressed dissatisfaction with the report, citing its narrow focus and failure to mention racial profiling. 

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Thumbnail image for Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

by Doug Porter 03.17.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime this spring Senator Orin Hatch will ask the congress to vote on giving the President “fast track” authority in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). What this means is that the terms of the treaty establishing ground rules for trade, intellectual property and corporate behavior around the Pacific Rim will be subject to a simple yes or no vote. 

Opponents of TPP and the companion Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) make a big deal out of the fact that the nuts and bolts of these deals are negotiated in secret. As a practical matter I don’t see how a complex agreement between nation-states and corporate entities could be negotiated in public. But we should have a right to know –beyond platitudes– what our government supports in negotiations.  

The crux of this matter is that we’re being asked to trust negotiators to create a mechanism along the lines of previous trade deals. Many of the people who negotiated those earlier deals now admit they failed to provide the promised economic benefits to anybody not owning stock in a multinational corporation. 

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