Columns

Thumbnail image for The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

by Doug Porter 02.27.2015 Activism

Infotainment for a Rainy San Diego Weekend

By Doug Porter

It’s time for that annual exercise in wingnuttery known as the Conservative Political Action Conference(CPAC), wherein activists of the far right persuasion gather in what Salon columnist Jim Newell calls the “fake shopping town of National Harbor, Maryland.”

Given that the biggest news around San Diego this morning appears to be anticipation about the arrival of rain (!) and possibly snow (!!) at the higher elevations, I’ll take the bait and share highlights from the annual gathering of the right and the righteous. 

It’s important to note that CPAC induces sympathetic craziness among the faithful who, for job-related reasons, are unable to attend during high profile sessions where CSPAN cameras may be turned on. This weekend is, after all, their turn to steal the spotlight from the liberal media’s endless praise of the Obama administration. 

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Unvarnished

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Unvarnished

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 02.27.2015 Books & Poetry

For men and women who work for love and not financial gain

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

It takes a man
to do what my parent’s generation
deferred as “woman’s work.”

No minimum wage
cause and effect rewards
just salivating dogs
and pooper scoopers
the prolific
propagation of dirty laundry
the monotonous
mopping up of sweat

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Bits: Will East Village Chargers Stadium Bring Ethnic Cleansing to Barrio Logan?

Barrio Bits: Will East Village Chargers Stadium Bring Ethnic Cleansing to Barrio Logan?

by Brent E. Beltrán 02.26.2015 Desde la Logan

Plus, Barrio Loganites Seek Crosswalk, Barrio Art Crawl Returns, Barrio Seed Bank Opens, Chicano Park Day Fundraiser y Más!

By Brent E. Beltrán

With all of the talk around town about the Chargers and their demands for a new stadium something has been overlooked: Barrio Logan. If the city acquiesces to the demands of the Chargers (which they have done in the past) and gives them a brand new stadium in the East Village what happens to the community that sits just south of there?

The impact on Barrio Logan residents would be tremendous… in a bad way.

For the most part the residents of Barrio Logan are renters. A new stadium so close to a community of renters would raise property values up to the point where they could no longer rent in the community they love. Thus, forcing many longtime community members out and changing the socio-economic and cultural character of Barrio Logan.

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Thumbnail image for Environmental Lawyer Cory Briggs: Saint or Sinner?

Environmental Lawyer Cory Briggs: Saint or Sinner?

by Doug Porter 02.26.2015 Columns

“The case put forward to this point just doesn’t seem right, kind of like a badly fitted toupee on an otherwise well-dressed man.”

By Doug Porter

There’s no doubt about the fact that attorney Cory Briggs has made his fair share of enemies in San Diego. His actions in court have made Briggs the bane of corporate interests, providing what I believe to be a necessary counter-balance in a region where it seems as though the “people’s advocates” express concern about issues only after exposés appear in the press.

So it’s ironic that San Diego’s City attorney is now responding to an investigative series focused on Briggs. And the suggestion is being made that the source for these stories may have been somebody connected with the city’s legal offices, which have made no secret of their disdain for the attorney in the past.

Over the past few days inewsource  has published three stories questioning Briggs’ ethics. Liens filed by the attorney on properties may have been fraudulent efforts to shield assets. Briggs wife’s employment with an environmental planning company used by local governments may represent a conflict of interest, given the nature of many of the legal actions he has pursued against various agencies.

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Thumbnail image for President Gandalf Vetoes the Keystone XL Pipeline

President Gandalf Vetoes the Keystone XL Pipeline

by Junco Canché 02.26.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

by Ernie McCray 02.26.2015 Culture

By Ernie McCray

I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.

I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.

My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.

Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:

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Thumbnail image for Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

by Doug Porter 02.25.2015 Business

By Doug Porter 

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached three dollars in San Diego this week, roughly seventy cents more than a month ago. The primary cause of this steep increase is the largest refinery strike in 35 years, a walkout that’s continuing to spread as negotiations have stalled out. 

A total of 6,550 workers represented by the United Steel Workers are on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of U.S. capacity. The central issue in this labor dispute is safe working conditions for the USW members at more than 200 oil terminals, pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the U.S. 

The American Automobile Association says the steep increase in prices comes on the heels of a record 123 consecutive days of declines. 

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Thumbnail image for The War on Terror Comes Home: Crime and Punishment in the 21st Century

The War on Terror Comes Home: Crime and Punishment in the 21st Century

by Doug Porter 02.24.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A report in today’s Guardian about a “black site” used by the Chicago police department to keep suspects off the grid for extended periods of time provides the starting point for today’s column. I’m going to weave three ongoing stories together to try to better understand what’s going on.

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times says next to nothing is happening with a promised crackdown on the use of excessive force with the US Border Patrol. 

And the prison industrial complex in California is pushing back against reforms instituted through Proposition 47, which essentially decriminalized drug possession for personal use and reduced other petty crimes from felony to misdemeanor status. 

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Thumbnail image for The Unnecessary Parts of the ‘Chargers Are Going to Leave’ Narrative

The Unnecessary Parts of the ‘Chargers Are Going to Leave’ Narrative

by Doug Porter 02.23.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

The prospect of San Diego losing its beloved football team provides an opportunity to examine the worst of what the local media does in terms of misleading people about the relative importance of news.

Many stories in the local news media outlets seem based upon the belief this potential business decision (by an entity dependent on taxpayer largess for its profitability) is of critical importance for San Diegans. While I certainly appreciate the emotional connection between fans and sporting organizations, much of what I’ve read in the last few days is simply not connected to any reality that I’m aware of.

Putting this in perspective, the Chargers “fan base” ranks in the bottom half of National Football League, according to data compiled by Nielsen Scarborough, who looked at the percentage of adults who have watched, attended or listened to the NFL team in that market in the past year. Despite what team boosters say, San Diegans are decidedly lukewarm about most pro sports.

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Thumbnail image for A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

by Jim Miller 02.23.2015 Columns

February 25th is National Adjunct Walkout Day

By Jim Miller

As I have noted here recently, the successful assault on public sector unionism has marched hand in hand with the surge of income inequality and the erosion of the American middle class. Of course, central to this is the ongoing war on teachers’ unions and the nationwide trend toward austerity budgets in state capitols across the country.

In the world of higher education, what this means is that as we have seen taxes go down for the wealthy and corporations over the last thirty years, budgets for education from K-12 to the university have suffered.

And while the growing student debt crisis has received significant attention, far fewer people are probably aware that in addition to gouging students, colleges across the country are increasingly relying on an exploited army of highly educated part-time teachers in the classroom to help keep their budgets in line.

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Looking Back at the Week: Feb 15-21

by Brent E. Beltrán 02.22.2015 Looking Back at the Week

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week at SDFP, during Black History Month, we focused on Race & Racism thus 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 talking about race, why racism matters, SD’s hurtful racial narrative, how racists from the south have ruled, black girls matter too, being almost white, imagining an all female POC SCOTUS, a chosen path, the San Salvador and Junipero Serra’s domination, whites fighting racism, a poem on being brown unlike others, lots of videos on race, plus a bunch of other great articles and columns like the Chargers flipping SD the bird, Syrian Kurd leftists’ victory in Kobani, music and theater reviews and the usual plethora of OB goodies.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Lives of Girls

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Lives of Girls

by Maria E. Garcia 02.21.2015 Culture

By Maria E. Garcia

Families in Logan Heights faced grim financial hardship during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Childhood entertainment and opportunities were limited. Neighborhood House provided classes, programs and outings that are remembered sixty and even seventy years later by the many people that I have interviewed.

While hard economic times affected everyone, there were different societal expectations about what were considered appropriate activities for boys and girls during this time period. Boys participated in the popular sports programs at Neighborhood House. Team members played in other parts of the city and even other parts of the country. Boys were also given a much greater freedom to explore their environs singly or with other boys.

Girls were raised in a socially conservative environment that emphasized marriage and raising a family. Their activities were often restricted or required a chaperone.

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Thumbnail image for Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

by Doug Porter 02.20.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

The drama surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ pursuit of a stadium–somewhere, anywhere–is turning out to be much more entertaining than much of the action on the field in recent years.  Today I’ll look around at what’s been said and do my best to provide some insight.

Yesterday the team let it slip–as a story in the Los Angeles Times was going to press–that they were working on a joint stadium deal with the Oakland Raiders for a facility in Carson, California, a city of less than 100,000 people with a history of shady dealings.

The coverage at ESPN included a nugget from an unidentified source saying the teams had been working together on this deal for the past nine months. The Chargers, by the way, denied inquiries from the St. Louis media about a deal in LA just a few weeks back.

Nobody was unhappier about the stadium news than Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’d like the public to believe he’s been making a serious effort towards keeping the team in San Diego. After all, nobody wants to run for reelection with “lost our beloved Chargers” as a signature accomplishment.

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Old Town Time Trip

by At Large 02.20.2015 Culture

By Nat Krieger

Late at night in Old Town it’s not hard to time travel. The cars lining the narrow streets have turned out their lights and gone to sleep. Human activity is reduced to three women walking together. They are wearing white blouses with multicolored skirts synced by a red sash.

If you don’t see the cars or buses or trolleys the women are heading for San Diego’s past clings to their rapid steps. With straight black hair and features that cover the distance between Cortez and the Kumeyaay the women are actors leaving a set where they have been playing the sartorial and biological roots of San Diego as imagined a century and a half later.

Along the eastern side of La Plaza de Las Armas in the heart of Old Town the thick adobe walls of Casa Estudillo release the heat of the day into the night, as they have for 185 years. The casa’s tall wooden doors are shut and the courtyard garden within, visible only through a skeleton key shaped hole, dreams again of the corn and beef flavored smoke that once poured from the outdoor clay oven.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Esslingen

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Esslingen

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 02.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Hope is half-timbered
across the Neckar River

Minds float into eyes
before the miracle
named Esslingen

A 500 year old story
preserved as a city
talking out on
a limb

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Thumbnail image for Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

Whites Fighting Racism: What It’s About

by Source 02.20.2015 Activism

By Ricardo Levins Morales  / Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio Blog

Note: I was asked by SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice – a group which organizes white folks against racism) to write a few paragraphs offering a perspective on white solidarity. It was to open a national organizing conference call. What I wrote follows:

White people are taught that racism is a personal attribute, an attitude, maybe a set of habits. Anti-racist whites invest too much energy worrying about getting it right; about not slipping up and revealing their racial socialization; about saying the right things and knowing when to say nothing.

It’s not about that. It’s about putting your shoulder to the wheel of history; about undermining the structural supports of a system of control that grinds us under, that keeps us divided even against ourselves and that extracts wealth, power and life from our communities like an oil company sucks it from the earth.

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Thumbnail image for America’s Finest City Can’t Be Bothered with Slum Lords

America’s Finest City Can’t Be Bothered with Slum Lords

by Doug Porter 02.19.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

A recalcitrant landlord at the top of a review of 2013 code compliance complaints in San Diego is the focus of a story written by Megan Burks and published jointly by KPBS/Voice of San Diego.

It’s a horrifying account, replete with tales of mold, asthma, raw sewage and armies of vermin. And a city government seemingly incapable of doing anything about it.

Landlord Bankim Shah owns nearly 90 properties in the San Diego area along with managing apartments owned by others. One-third of the 62 formal complaints filed against him since 2001 are, according to the story, “for conditions so bad state law says no one should be forced to live in them.”

We learn that Shah has been to court exactly once–in “2011 for renting a building to a medical marijuana dispensary.”

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Thumbnail image for Fabiani Runs Roughshod Over Mayor’s Stadium Task Force

Fabiani Runs Roughshod Over Mayor’s Stadium Task Force

by Junco Canché 02.19.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for Chargers’ Point Man Calls Out Mayor’s Malarkey On Stadium Task Force

Chargers’ Point Man Calls Out Mayor’s Malarkey On Stadium Task Force

by Doug Porter 02.18.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani has done San Diego a huge favor by pointing out the obvious. He’s single-handedly challenged the existing political narrative about the politics of the process being used in deciding on the advisability of building a new stadium.

You won’t find me among those pining away for the possibility of a new football stadium in America’s Finest City, even though I sometimes wonder if I’m addicted to watching games. 

First, there’s the silliness of taxpayers being expected to subsidize a rich man’s game in return for the possibility of an endorphin rush at some future time. And then there’s my sense that the long-term prospects for the sport aren’t very good, what with players’ health issues, spousal abuse scandals, and anything having to do with Patriots’ coach Bill Belechick.

(Malarkey was the best synonym I could come up with for “bullshit,” a word that’s too easy to use when describing the goings on at San Diego’s city hall.) 

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Thumbnail image for A Path Chosen in Black History

A Path Chosen in Black History

by Ernie McCray 02.18.2015 From the Soul

By Ernie McCray

When I look back at my own little chapter of Black History, I feel grateful that I found a path that enabled me to survive a society that sought to deny me a life of dignity. I unknowingly set out on this path on my first day of school, when my knuckles were seemingly knocked to kingdom come because I had dozed off, as if I had a choice in a room sizzling at 100 and some degrees with a fan (itself struggling to stay awake) blowing across a pail of water as though that could lower the temperature in that room to any degree. I swear I heard that fan wheeze. Talking Tucson, Arizona, August or September of 1943.

I remember thinking, back then, as I looked at my hands, surprised to see my knuckles still there, “What the hell kind of welcome was that?” And I knew, as much as a five-year old can know such things, that someday I would be a teacher.

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

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

by Frank Gormlie 02.18.2015 Editor's Picks

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.

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Thumbnail image for Republicans Stand Up for Racism as Court Blocks Immigration Programs

Republicans Stand Up for Racism as Court Blocks Immigration Programs

by Doug Porter 02.17.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A Federal District Court Judge in Brownsville, Texas has issued a ruling temporarily blocking President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

While the White House says the ruling will be appealed and many legal analysts say the injunction won’t stand up to challenges on appeal, the uncertainty involving the legal process represents a psychological victory for the nativist core of the Republican Party.

GOP leaders have cheered the ruling, saying it proves President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration exceeded his legal authority. Millions of other folks feel otherwise.

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Thumbnail image for Racism Matters: Why We Do This Thing

Racism Matters: Why We Do This Thing

by Doug Porter 02.16.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

This week the San Diego Free Press is taking a bit of a pause from our usual routine to focus on Race and Racism. Previous thematic efforts include War and Peace back in November and Guns in the week following the second anniversary of the sandy hook shootings.

While this daily column normally concerns itself with reviewing what other media are covering, I’m taking a minute out to encourage readers to join us on this journey of reflection and discussion. (And, yes, there is other news further down in the column.)

We’ve got an array of perspectives to share with readers this week. Today, Susan Grigsby and Jim Miller are looking into race & racism history, both nationally and locally. Looking into the drafts already completed for the week there are essays on the impact of racism on young black girls, inside looks by several writers on their developing racial consciousness, a late night tour of Old Town along with the ghosts of Cortez and the Kumeyaay and a terrific piece by Ricardo Levins Morales on whites fighting racism.

And there’s more… I hope you’ll read, comment on and share what we’re posting this week. Racism Matters is more than a slogan for us; it’s a core value.

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Thumbnail image for Talking about Race and Racism in San Diego

Talking about Race and Racism in San Diego

by Anna Daniels 02.16.2015 Activism

By Anna Daniels

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

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

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

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

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

by Jim Miller 02.16.2015 Battle for Barrio Logan

…the insistence on what one might call “San Diego exceptionalism,” the notion that our city is somehow free of the same troubled history as the rest of the country, is at the heart of our city’s failure to truly serve the needs of all San Diegans. 

By Jim Miller

Last week, leading up to this week’s special focus on race and racism, the San Diego Free Press posted a story about a new report released by the Equal Justice Institute (EJI) that notes how, “Capital punishment and ongoing racial injustice in the United States are ‘direct descendants’ of lynching, charges a new study, which found that the pre-World War II practice of ‘racial terrorism’ has had a much more profound impact on race relations in America than previously acknowledged.”

This hidden history of racial terrorism in America is far more influential than many of us would prefer to acknowledge. As EJI Director Bryan Stevenson observes, “I also think that the lynching era created a narrative of racial difference, a presumption of guilt, a presumption of dangerousness that got assigned to African Americans in particular—and that’s the same presumption of guilt that burdens young kids living in urban areas who are sometimes menaced, threatened, or shot and killed by law enforcement officers.”

And if a lack of awareness or outright denial of the significance of our racist past is a problem in the United States at large, San Diego is certainly not immune though our civic religion—banal self-promotion by the tourism industry—would have us think otherwise. But underneath the official ahistorical pastiche of styles and fantasies designed to aid commerce and nature-packaged-as-spectacle there is another story.

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