Columns

Thumbnail image for ‘I Believe That We Will Win’ – San Diego Activists Rise Above the Fray

‘I Believe That We Will Win’ – San Diego Activists Rise Above the Fray

by Doug Porter 09.19.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The six hundred forty six columns and stories I’ve written about San Diego in this space over the past 27 months have led me to an awareness of just how vital activism has become in this community.

Howard Zinn, loathed by right-wingers everywhere, writes from the perspective that  activism and social movements are driving forces in history.This is different from the heroes/villains methodology or the feast/famine/war/peace way [how the mass media see the world] of understanding the course of events.

This week in San Diego is, I think, a validation of Zinn’s approach. Even as battles were lost (the Chamber of Misery’s minimum wage referendum), other struggles were victorious (the taxi drivers’ quest for reform). This weekend’s People’s Climate March in downtown is just one manifestation of 2700 other rallies around the world making the point that the world can no longer afford to delay substantive action on this issue.

Today’s column will discuss some of the many fronts for activism in San Diego and around the nation.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

by At Large 09.19.2014 Activism

Shamu, we hardly knew ye

By Linda Perine / San Diego Woman’s Democratic Club

For most of us it has been a slow, painful process to understand that our love affair with cute, cuddly, smiley Shamu has made us participants in a cold-blooded business that imprisons and mistreats sentient, social creatures in ways that turn the stomach and shock the conscience.

Concerned environmentalist and civic leaders have been telling us for years that the capture of orcas was nasty and brutal involving bombs and machine guns, the violent separation of babies from their mothers and resulting in injury and death to many orcas in the wild. Books criticizing the Sea World business model and its exploitation of captive whales and dolphins just did not register.

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write:  The Community Effort behind the Arrest of a Suspect in the North Park Assaults

Readers Write: The Community Effort behind the Arrest of a Suspect in the North Park Assaults

by At Large 09.19.2014 Activism

By Alan Bennett

North Park citizens were intimately involved in the arrest of David Angelo Drake, a 23-year-old male as a suspect in the sexual assaults on women in North Park over the past four months. The San Diego resident was scheduled to be arraigned September 11, 2014, at the downtown courthouse. Mr. Drake was taken into custody into custody near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Washington Street.

This was possible because a North Park resident took the time to get involved. The tipsters words to me were: “I did not expect that I would solve the puzzle, but I knew that I had to try and that I was going to keep at it until I figured it out.” Although bedridden, the tipster suspected having seen the emblem on the suspect’s Tee shirt caught on a closed circuit television. That image was vague but familiar. After four hours, searching Tee shirt websites, a match was made.

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Thumbnail image for As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

by Doug Porter 09.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The poverty rate in San Diego has risen over the past year according to data released by U.S. Census Bureau this week. A total of 209,045 San Diegans (15.8%)  lived below the federal poverty level last year, including more than 64,000 children (21.9%) of all children in the city.  

The release of this report comes two days after the San Diego Chamber of Commerce claimed success in a referendum campaign effectively halting implementation of a local minimum wage increase. Much of the money for that campaign reportedly came via the California Restaurant Association.

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Thumbnail image for A One-on-One Conversation with District 8 Councilman David Alvarez

A One-on-One Conversation with District 8 Councilman David Alvarez

by Brent E. Beltrán 09.18.2014 Desde la Logan

In this first of two parts the Councilman discusses the minimum wage, upgrades to Chicano Park, Barrio Art Crawl and creating a place to be on Sunday afternoons in Barrio Logan

By Brent E. Beltrán

I woke up on Monday morning and, as I usually do, checked my email first (then Twitter and Facebook). In my inbox was an email from the Raise Up San Diego campaign stating that they were holding a press conference with David Alvarez at Chicano Park at 10am.

Feeling compelled to attend a presser across the street from where I lived I went about my morning business of getting my son Dino ready for preschool and walked him the two blocks to Perkins Elementary.

With him starting school I’ve been on a walking kick to get rid of some of the “sympathy” weight I gained in solidarity with my wife during the pregnancy. From 9am to about 10am I’d walk from Barrio Logan down Harbor Dr. — dodging traffic since there are no sidewalks — to the Convention Center stairs and then back to my barrio.

Knowing that I’d be dripping sweat, from not only walking but from the muggy weather we’ve been having, I thought I’d hang in the background of the presser once I arrived to Chicano Park. That was not to be the case.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Really Has It All

San Diego Really Has It All

by Junco Canché 09.18.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 09.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders took to the airwaves yesterday to announce his group of paid canvassers had gathered 56,000 signatures (at up to $12 each) towards implementing their plan to keep the working poor in poverty for as long as possible.

There was no longer any pretense about a “small business coalition” fighting to save mom and pop stores from bankruptcy or simply getting this issue before the voters. This campaign was about the power of the wealthy to dictate policy to the city. This was and is about the sustaining an economic model that asks taxpayers to subsidize lower tiers of workers via government programs while corporations rack up record profits.

By the time financial reports reveal just how much money was spent by the Chamber and their corporate allies in the hospitality industry spent to gather signatures, the San Diego clerk’s office will have certified the results. I’ll venture a guess that they spent over a million bucks, probably not including the hotel rooms provided for vagabond canvassers from as far away as Michigan and Ohio.

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Thumbnail image for Convert or Die!

Convert or Die!

by Junco Canché 09.17.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for A Little Plea for Ending Violence Against Women

A Little Plea for Ending Violence Against Women

by Ernie McCray 09.17.2014 Activism

By Ernie McCray

I can’t seem to free my mind of images of Janay Palmer Rice being so utterly beaten down and humiliated in a hotel casino elevator. My heart reaches way out to her.

There are those who hold the view that “She should leave” like that’s as easy as it seems. “She’s just with him for the money,” others say, as though there isn’t a poor woman out there somewhere, in this very moment probably, getting stomped unmercifully by some ruthless man who doesn’t, as they used to say, have a pot to pee in. And the woman will stay in the relationship.

Look, I don’t know Janay’s story but the pain I see ingrained on her beautiful brown face seems to be of an intense emotional variety, that kind of pain that takes over a person’s life when they live under the dominance of another human being, feeling there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Because the vicious brutes among us will track you down. It’s downright dangerous to run.

Now, there are women who are victims of violence who wake up and say “Enough of this” and find a way to end the abuse, but way too many don’t. I’ve read that it takes an average of seven attacks before a woman leaves her abuser.

The only thing approaching a positive, in this horrible incident involving Janay, is that we, as a society, got to see a video of it. With the imagery still fresh in our minds maybe we will be compelled to find ways to make women safer in our world.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

San Diego Taxi Cartels Punish Drivers Seeking Reforms

by Doug Porter 09.16.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Cab drivers in San Diego who have stood up for reforming industry regulations have been unilaterally punished by company owners in recent days. Drivers are asking the city to lift a cap on the number of permits issued for taxis. The two sides are headed for an epic showdown before a City Council committee this week.

Cab company owners are desperately trying to preserve a lucrative franchise enabled by taxpayers. San Diego’s taxi drivers are ‘independent contractors’ who have virtually no control over the way they’re allowed to run their “business” of driving a cab. Mostly they eke out a living under terms set by a few anointed property owners (in this case the property is the license required to operate) who set terms and conditions.

One driver who dared to grant an interview with San Diego 6 News following a press conference hosted by City Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City attorney Jan Goldsmith was asked to “turn in his keys” (industry parlance for you’re fired).

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Thumbnail image for Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

by John Lawrence 09.16.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

Corporations are relentless about setting up tax avoidance schemes and finding new and improved ways of getting out of paying taxes.

One method is to set up a corporate subsidiary in the Cayman Islands which doesn’t require any taxes to be paid. This works well for collecting royalties on patents because the patents can just be transferred to the subsidiary, and, voila, no taxes need be paid at all. Other companies which do a great deal of selling abroad have money piling up in foreign jurisdictions.

US law requires them to pay taxes on this money when they bring it back into the US. So these companies like Microsoft, Apple and Qualcomm are always lobbying for a “tax holiday”, which would allow them to bring this poor, lonely money home without paying taxes on it. Corporations are people, remember, and money is their Mother’s Milk.

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Thumbnail image for The People’s Climate March – What Will It Take to Save the Planet?

The People’s Climate March – What Will It Take to Save the Planet?

by Jim Miller 09.15.2014 Activism

By Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew

This coming Sunday, September 21st, is the People’s Climate March in New York City, here in San Diego, and elsewhere around the world.

The organizers hope that it will be “an unprecedented citizen mobilization” occurring “[a]s world leaders meet at the United Nations climate change summit” while marchers demand “the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities. . . . Other marches will take place around the world as we collectively call on our leaders to act on climate change.”

More specifically, according to the organizers in San Diego, the march is happening to “call for solutions that work for people and the planet – a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency, and a just and sustainable economy. We will press our elected leaders to implement a strong Climate Action Plan for San Diego; develop sustainable water policies; build affordable mass transit and facilitate healthy communities; and support green jobs and clean energy.”

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Thumbnail image for Grass Roots Campaign For Mayor Heats Up In Imperial Beach : Serge Dedina Wants To Increase Civic Participation

Grass Roots Campaign For Mayor Heats Up In Imperial Beach : Serge Dedina Wants To Increase Civic Participation

by At Large 09.15.2014 Activism

By Barbara Zaragoza

While campaigns in Imperial Beach generally begin on Labor Day, Serge Dedina, co-founder and executive director of WildCoast, has been walking the streets of IB since last May. His run for mayor also happens to be the most comprehensive grass roots campaign in Imperial Beach history.

“No one has ever had more volunteers. No one has integrated the door-to-door campaigning with social media and email blasts. We have a list of 80 volunteers and on a weekly basis we are getting 10-12 people to walk,” said Dedina.

His campaign is gaining traction thanks to his unusual approach.

“My volunteers and I started walking throughout the summer between 5 and 7 days a week. Volunteers will be walking every Saturday until Election Day. That’s the difference with my campaign. It’s really fueled by walking and our volunteers and then the enthusiastic reception in the community.”

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Thumbnail image for Why Team Sports Are Bad for Society

Why Team Sports Are Bad for Society

by At Large 09.15.2014 Readers Write

By Michael-Leonard

I really came out of the closet as a total sports NON-fan when I posted this rant as a comment to a column on SDFP last year:

[A]s a non-sports person, Chargers — and every other sports team — CAN continue to “play” in whatever place they now have. Unless the owners build a new one. Simple. Just like any other actual business that doesn’t receive public subsidies. You, and everyone else on this forum, know that those terrible money numbers are direct result of the disastrous contracts the city has allowed with Chargers — AND Padres! — for their “playgrounds”. How much is the continuing debt service on PETCO Park?

Many other much more valuable businesses have departed our fair city. You think we are gonna shell out any more to keep this bunch of thugs (owners AND players) around? I certainly hope not.

Furthermore, any and all non-monetary incentives that sports teams get that businesses and companies in other industries do NOT get, should be eliminated. These, too, are drains on the general public. It’s even less fair to me than it is to Judi; she wants to go to the games if she could afford it. I could care less about any of the sports. But, as a city dweller, worker and home owner, I hafta pay for them. NO public subsidy for Chargers!

 I don’t just mean ‘not a sports fan’ I mean a TOTAL opposite-of-what-a-fan is.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: September 7-13

Looking Back at the Week at SDFP and OB Rag: September 7-13

by Brent E. Beltrán 09.14.2014 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, and at-large contributors on big lies by Dirty Energy, the costs of football, DeMaio smelling bad, an intensified minimum wage fight, the Illumina lawsuit, an oppressed Chamber, false CC premises, Obama chumping out, glutton buddies Kevin & Jerry, taxi drivers on the move, bad reality, Gloria’s living the wage challenge, Dick & Henry’s warmongering, regulating initiatives, Vets 360, lots of OB stuff and much more. Go read what you’ve missed out on this week. You’ll thank us.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Fisher Garcia

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Fisher Garcia

by Maria Garcia 09.13.2014 History of Neighborhood House

Memories from The Depression to Duet Garcia

By Maria E. Garcia

Mary Fisher Garcia attended Neighborhood House as a child during the 1930′s. Miss Anita Jones was the director of Neighborhood House at the time. Jones had trained under Jane Addams, lived in Mexico for a number of years and spoke fluent Spanish. Mary credits Miss Jones with starting many of the programs that became so popular with the kids that attended Neighborhood House.

She remembers Miss Jones as being very strict, but she was also someone you could go to if you had a problem. Mary, like many of the other people I have interviewed, remembers the big fruit truck delivering fruit to the neighborhood and parking in the alley behind Neighborhood House. Word of the free fruit would spread quickly throughout the neighborhood. Free fresh fruit was clearly not taken for granted in the 30′s.

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Thumbnail image for City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

by Doug Porter 09.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

A citizen group represented by Attorney Cory Briggs has announced its intention to file a lawsuit blocking the city’s economic incentives package with Illumina, Inc.

An email sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council this week set a deadline of September 23rd for rescinding the agreement. The communique claims the approval process violated a City Charter provision requiring any deals made by the council lasting more than five years to include a public hearing and a legal notice published 10 days in advance of that hearing.

The Economic Development Assistance Agreement with Illumina, Inc, was approved on August 7th as a “Consent Item.” The ten year deal includes a promise to rebate $1.5 million in sales and use taxes in return for retaining “over 100 middle-wage manufacturing job opportunities” in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? Six False Premises for Convention Center Expansion

Who Runs San Diego? Six False Premises for Convention Center Expansion

by At Large 09.12.2014 Columns

By Linda Perine /San Diego Woman’s Democratic Club

In 2009, then Mayor Jerry Sanders, the hotel industry, the Chamber of Commerce et al. decided that it was a really keen idea to expand the Convention Center.

They guessed that it would cost about $520 million to build and that there was a BIG market for expanded convention centers, and they warned us that Comic-Con would move on if we didn’t expand the Convention Center. They knew they could never convince enough people in San Diego to agree to pay for this idea so they created a special financing district comprised of just hoteliers.

Cory Briggs wrote about this financing scheme last week in our Who Runs San Diego? series. On August 1, 2014 the 4th District Court of Appeal declared the financing district violated both the state constitution and the city charter.

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Thumbnail image for Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

by Jay Powell 09.12.2014 Activism

By Jay Powell

“… with the passage of AB 327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC. … recognize this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interest of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You—my fellow Commissioners—all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.”

This was one of six parting observations offered by Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron when he resigned from the PUC due to serious health issues in January of this year.

The “poisoned chalice” is what is on the table this next week. Those of you who are trying desperately to mind your “kwhrs” (kilowatt hours) this summer should be aware that you are about to be punished for your conservation, investments in energy efficiency and/or roof top solar.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Needs to Regulate the Initiative Industry

San Diego Needs to Regulate the Initiative Industry

by Lori Saldaña 09.12.2014 Courts, Justice

By Lori Saldaña

It’s time to point out the obvious: San Diego is becoming a city governed not by democratic process, and not by elected officials who achieved office after being supported by the most voters. It is increasingly run by checkbook politics, flush with funds deposited by businesses intent on overriding the votes of the City Council.

Former Mayor Sanders may have left City Hall, but he learned how to take the power with him. For the past year he has been able to demonstrate this power by pushing aside Council policies on community planning and now minimum wage. He is actively supporting conservative interests that hire signature gatherers to do this dirty work in public, while he and others in the Chamber ranks raise and bundle money and write checks behind the scenes.

During my 4 years serving on the Elections Committee in the State Assembly, I learned that the petition process in California is deeply flawed. Established in 1911, intended to “reform” corrupt government practices, it has evolved into the one place where campaign financing law needs the most reform. As it stands, weak statutes and lack of oversight allow unconstitutional amendments such as Prop. 8 to be placed on the ballot and wreak havoc with people’s lives.

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Geo-Poetic Spaces: Dresden

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 09.12.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

If you believe in the god of war
go to Dresden
where charred faces
still look anxiously up at clouds

If you can wash your hands in fountains
where women and children
sought refuge from the firestorm of incendiary bombs
only to boil in water …

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Thumbnail image for The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 09.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The struggle for a better life for nearly two hundred thousand San Diegans continues, as the forces of reaction desperately fight back following passage of an ordinance increasing the local minimum wage by the City Council.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from corporate hotel and restaurant corporations, has funded a campaign to force the issue to a referendum, which would have the effect of delaying any increase until July, 2016. While their sales pitch started out with the premise that citizens needed to vote on such a measure, it has gotten increasingly desperate in recent days.

The paid canvassers used by GOP consultant Jason Roe and the big business funded “Small Business Coalition” have quit in droves, mostly because they are unable to collect enough signatures to make a living. The bounty for names on their petitions has risen from roughly $2 per signature to $7 each at retail locations and $10 each if done door-to-door.

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Thumbnail image for Faulconer & Sanders Dine Like Gluttons

Faulconer & Sanders Dine Like Gluttons

by Junco Canché 09.11.2014 Business
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Thumbnail image for Beating the War Drums: Beware the Advice of Mission Creeps Cheney and Kissinger

Beating the War Drums: Beware the Advice of Mission Creeps Cheney and Kissinger

by Anna Daniels 09.10.2014 Activism

Are we getting our war on?

By Anna Daniels

Nothing like starting the morning with the Wall Street Journal headline “Cheney Is Still Right” followed by a New York Times correction to their own article in which Dick Cheney was described as “President.” The media has chosen unprosecuted war criminal Dick Cheney as the warm up act for President Obama’s address to the American people this evening, Wednesday September 10, and it does not bode well.

It is impossible to expect any encouraging news tonight about the US’s continued presence in the political and moral quagmire of Iraq and anticipated involvement in the same in Syria. We elected a president–twice– who promised to a war weary citizenry a withdrawal of the US presence in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Now he is assuring us that we will not be involved up to our collective necks (again) in the complicated geo-politics of the region, only up to maybe our knees or waist.

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Thumbnail image for There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

by Doug Porter 09.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Voters in the 52nd Congressional District come November will get to make their choice between the former City Councilman and incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. Today I’ll argue that this choice is more than ideological; it’s a question of character. 

What differentiates DeMaio in my mind from others who I disagree with (including Congressman Peters from time to time) is the way he does business. A couple of recent examples serve to illustrate my point. (And I’ll remind you of some past incidents that bolster my contention.) 

Having lost out on an endorsement from the US Chamber of Commerce last week, candidate DeMaio sought to change the subject by rolling out what he insisted was a series of women-friendly proposals. 

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