Editor’s Picks

Articles that our Editorial Board feel really stand out. We’re glad we didn’t miss them and want to make sure you don’t either!

Thumbnail image for Mission Valley Watch

Mission Valley Watch

by Frank Gormlie 04.21.2015 Activism

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

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

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

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

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Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

by John Lawrence 04.21.2015 Activism

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 6

By John Lawrence – This is the sixth and final part of this series. Part 5 can be found here.

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, debunks the idea that all we have to do is to cooperate with the extractive industries and urge them to get greener. We do not have to go to extremes, but can phase in renewable sources of energy gradually. The gradualist approach is the essence of green capitalism. This will not work Klein says:

[The] bottom line is … our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.

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The Stupid Things People Do

by Bob Dorn 04.21.2015 Culture

When not a problem, pal is a problem

By Bob Dorn

I’m afraid we have to give up on arguing with fascists.

We’ve got grown men in expensive suits, some of them Republican presidential candidates, willing to say in public that Obama’s deal with Iran on nuclear arms is worse than Neville Chamberlain’s famous sell-out to Adolf Hitler in 1938.

Remember death panels?

They don’t mean this shit, and they don’t seem to care a fig if they seem insane. We’re not going to convince the NRA that we need to place limits on gun sales and use. They’d rather aim a gun at you than negotiate. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll start aiming at each other, like Dick Cheney did when he shot his skeet podner a few years back.

Instead of attempting to defeat fascism with arguments, maybe we can change the atmosphere down here at ground level. On the theory that the better we are the better our leaders will become, let’s look at what you and I do, routinely, to establish our own stupidity.

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Thumbnail image for Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

by Jim Miller 04.20.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

Last week was Tax Day and with it came the annual ritual of bemoaning our ever-rising taxes and complaining about the endless growth of big government.

Indeed just a few days after Tax Day, I gave a talk at a local college on the history of income inequality and workers’ struggles in which I made a comparison between the stark odds workers face today in the Fight for $15 with the similarly steep hill they faced 100 years ago before the rise of the American Labor Movement and the reforms that came with the New Deal.

As is usually the case, however, a few folks in the audience just could not get their heads around the idea that it was not all government’s fault.

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write:  The Fuzzy Picture around the Chargers Stadium and Mission Valley

Readers Write: The Fuzzy Picture around the Chargers Stadium and Mission Valley

by At Large 04.20.2015 Business

By Joe Flynn

Editor Note: Mr. Flynn’s article is a response to Taking a Wide Lens on Mission Valley by Mary Lydon, published in Voice of San Diego.

A wide angle lens may not be the appropriate analogy for this discussion. It seems a telephoto lens for a close up was used here focusing on providing a stadium for the Chargers. The rest of the picture is fuzzy. What is troubling about these discussions is that they begin and end with the assumption that the city owned land in Mission Valley, now improved with Qualcomm Stadium is “dedicated for sports facility use.”

Perhaps parkland can be dedicated and forever reserved for public park uses, but other city owned land can and should be viewed as a public asset to be used for the most critical public needs.

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Thumbnail image for When Did Lawyer Cory Briggs Stop Beating His Fake Wife?

When Did Lawyer Cory Briggs Stop Beating His Fake Wife?

by At Large 04.19.2015 Editor's Picks

By Regnad Kcin

High-profile San Diego lawyer Cory Briggs has engaged in egregious false matrimony, according to a months-long EyeNewSores investigation.

A host of experts assert that Briggs has made questionable and possibly fraudulent deals while claiming the woman he’s shacked up is his wife. The EyeNewSores team will examine these deals in future weeks, publishing exclusive headlines revealing a side to this so-called public interest lawyer that some may find shocking.

EyeNewSores has discovered that Briggs, a key figure in the resignation of former Mayor Bob Filner, may or may not have battered his alleged ‘wife,’ according to sources close to a high profile attorney and elected official famous for his ethics and fair play.

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Thumbnail image for Playwright Paul S. Flores’ PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is Coming to San Diego

Playwright Paul S. Flores’ PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo is Coming to San Diego

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.17.2015 Books & Poetry

Part Two of a Two Part Interview with the Former Chula Vistan and UCSD Student

By Brent E. Beltrán

For Part I of the interview please visit.

In this second installment of my two part interview with playwright Paul S. Flores he discusses the founding of Los Delicados, what poetry means to him, his novel Along The Border Lies, what attracted him to theatre, his play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo, the casting of Culture Clash’s Ric Salinas in the lead role, the outreach for the play, him being named a Doris Duke Artist, and what advice he’d give to fledgling minority writers.

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Thumbnail image for A Video Interview With and Poetry by Amiri Baraka

A Video Interview With and Poetry by Amiri Baraka

by Staff 04.16.2015 Books & Poetry

By SDFP Staff

The following video conducted in 1998 by poet E. Ethelbert Miller of HoCoPoLitSo’s The Writing Life features an interview with, and poetry by, the late, great, radical poet Amiri Baraka (formerly known as Leroi Jones).

His website states:
“[D]ramatist, novelist and poet, Amiri Baraka is one of the most respected and widely published African-American writers. With the beginning of Black Civil Rights Movements during the sixties, Baraka explored the anger of African-Americans and used his writings as a weapon against racism. Also, he advocated scientific socialism with his revolutionary inclined poems and aimed at creating aesthetic through them.

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Thumbnail image for Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

by At Large 04.15.2015 Business

Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds

Editor Note: SDFP readers have requested more information about the legal complaint filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. We are providing their news release and a link to the complete filing below without analysis at this time.

The Petitioners are requesting legal declarations from the Superior Court which clarify the duties and responsibilities between the City of San Diego and CivicSD in regard to economic and community development. The legal complaint also seeks by its lawsuit to create public transparency over public-private development, safeguard taxpayers with oversight of public resources, and establish a baseline of community benefits for development derived from public resources.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego – Like a Hole in the Head

Civic San Diego – Like a Hole in the Head

by Norma Damashek 04.14.2015 Columns

By Norma Damashek

We need it like a loch im kopf.  A hole in the head.  It’s what people in the old days would say about a bad situation.  It’s what I say about Civic San Diego –the reincarnation of our former downtown redevelopment agency.

We need Civic San Diego like a hole in the head.  It’s time to get rid of it.

A quick backtrack:  It’s been three years since redevelopment agencies throughout California were terminated and instructed to wind downtheir uncompleted redevelopment projects and make good on their financial obligations.  Other cities complied by doing the job in-house, under public supervision.

Not so in San Diego.  To take care of the job in our city, former mayor Jerry Sanders created an unaccountable, autonomous corporation named Civic San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

by John Lawrence 04.14.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

In 2009 then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1388 which eliminated prudent controls over how much debt school districts could enter into. Wall Street bankers then swarmed all over the state promoting Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs), the equivalent of payday loans for school districts.

One fantastic advantage of these loans was the “buy now, pay later” aspect. School districts could get their money now and not have to raise taxes on current residents. Easy money. There would not have to be any payments made for 20 years. Current residents would be off the hook. But their children and grandchildren would enter an era of crushing debt when the bill became due.

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.

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Teachers and Students Fight for 15

by Jim Miller 04.13.2015 Activism

By Jim Miller

Last February, in the lead up to the National Adjunct Day of Action, I noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

During that day of protest, Fight for 15 organizers stood with us and this week, on 4/15 at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

In doing so we will be joining a movement that has taken root across the county.

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Thumbnail image for Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

Conversations at the Catfish Club: The Answer is Love

by Ernie McCray 04.13.2015 Columns

By Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

He spoke of the moments in time when he was into making our city and county governments more inclusive and more service oriented and more respectful of citizens. He touched on the area’s redevelopment movement when neglected communities started getting the attention they deserved and needed and had gone without forever.

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Thumbnail image for Fight215.org Coalition Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance

Fight215.org Coalition Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance

by Source 04.10.2015 Activism

By Nadia Kayyali / Deep Links Blog

A coalition of 34 organizations from across the political spectrum is launching Fight215.org today to help concerned individuals contact lawmakers and demand an end to NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance under the Patriot Act.

The launch coincides with the countdown to the expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the NSA claims justifies bulk collection of the phone records of millions of innocent people.

The 34 groups and companies joining Fight215 (see a full list at the bottom of this post) have come together to send a clear message: the politics of fear doesn’t trump the Constitution. The unconstitutional bulk collection of phone records must end now.

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Thumbnail image for Police Body Cameras: The Lessons of Albuquerque

Police Body Cameras: The Lessons of Albuquerque

by Source 04.10.2015 Courts, Justice

By Jay Stanley / ACLU Blog of Rights

Police body-worn cameras are a subject about which many people have differing intuitions. Some activists tell us they worry we are mistaken in conditionally supporting the technology; that it will become a tool for increasingly police power, but not oversight. Others point to situations in which the cameras have been crucial in bringing justice—or at least in exposing injustice. In light of such debates, the troubled police department in Albuquerque provides an interesting case study.

The Albuquerque department has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation, which found in a damning report that “Albuquerque police officers often use deadly force in circumstances where there is no imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to officers or others,” and often used unnecessary less-than-lethal force “without regard for the subject’s safety or the level of threat encountered.” At the same time, the Albuquerque police department actually uses body cameras, which were adopted in 2012 in the wake of controversy over police shootings, along with a requirement that officers use them to document civilian encounters.

However, the cameras have hardly proven to be a solution to the department’s problems.

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Thumbnail image for Fast Tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership: An Offer Congress Ought to Refuse

Fast Tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership: An Offer Congress Ought to Refuse

by Doug Porter 04.09.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Over the next few weeks there will be a barrage of opinion on a complicated subject: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal in the making between pacific rim nations effectively setting the ground rules for most international trade in the 21st century.

Please, don’t let your eyes glaze over. This is important. Congress is about to be asked to grant the executive branch the authority to present the final version of this agreement on a take it or leave it basis. I believe this deal rewards corporate greed and ignores its role in creating inequality.

Today I’ll try my best to present a primer on the battle already underway. There will be international, national and local events concerning the TPP in the coming days. Your personal economic future is what’s at stake.

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Thumbnail image for Photo Murals Honoring Cesar Chavez Installed in Barrio Logan

Photo Murals Honoring Cesar Chavez Installed in Barrio Logan

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.09.2015 Desde la Logan

What could have been an ugly structure will now become an important part of the community

By Brent E. Beltrán

This week photo murals depicting late labor leader Cesar Chavez have gone up on a new parking structure in Barrio Logan. The structure, located on the corner of Cesar Chavez Parkway and National Avenue, will be fitted with eight different photo murals “reflecting and honoring the life and work” of the United Farmworker co-founder.

Carlos LeGerrette, activist, photographer and originator of the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, was instrumental in making the photo murals a reality through his historic and extensive photo collection of Cesar Chavez and the UFW.

“We worked with LeGerrette and other community members through a series of collaborative meetings to determine which images of Cesar Chavez should be displayed on the facility,” said Rudy Kastelic, Interim President at San Diego Continuing Education. “We have been serving the Barrio Logan community since the 70s and we’ve had ‘good neighbor’ relationships with Barrio Station, Cesar Chavez Service Clubs and other organizations in the community that we wanted to include in our building process.”

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Thumbnail image for Imagine a Coalition Unifying Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, and the Fight for a Living Wage.

Imagine a Coalition Unifying Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, and the Fight for a Living Wage.

by Source 04.08.2015 Activism

By Ian Reifowitz / Daily Kos

Silos are dangerous. I’m not talking about the kind that house nuclear missiles, but rather the metaphorical kind, the kind that divide people who could and should be working together toward a shared goal. Too often, progressives have found themselves divided into these kinds of silos, for example, with women—themselves typically divided by race and ethnicity—fighting for gender equality, LGBT folks fighting for gay rights, unions and workers fighting for labor rights, and on and on.To some degree, these divisions are understandable. Part of the way a marginalized group empowers itself is by creating a movement in which its members play a predominant role.

At the end of the day, however, the goal of a political movement ought not to be solely or even primarily to help those who actively participate to feel empowered—as important as that is— but rather to achieve specific policy or other concrete aims that improve the lives of all those whom the movement represents. The movement must be a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Achieving those ends requires marshaling as much support as possible, and that means each group must break out of its silo and support one another’s causes.

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Thumbnail image for Yoga in Encinitas, Gays in Indiana: The Bigots of the Right Fight On

Yoga in Encinitas, Gays in Indiana: The Bigots of the Right Fight On

by Doug Porter 04.06.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

The 4th District Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling allowing yoga to be taught as a form of physical fitness instruction in Encinitas schools. The lawsuit in question was brought by parents of two students who claimed the practice promoted Hinduism and inhibited Christianity. 

The court of public opinion forced the Indiana state legislature to amend its special version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act saying it cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

You don’t have to look very hard at the backers of the lawsuit and the original version of that legislation to discover that they were pursuing the same agenda. These instances are about furthering the cause of social conservatives to impose their standards of society. This is what they would call fighting the “war on religion.” 

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Thumbnail image for Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

by Ernie McCray 04.06.2015 Activism

By Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” as panelists, in a room where smiles drifted in the air like tissues in a breeze, talked of everyone chipping in to find good cops and of how we all need to shed our various biases, as “Trust is fragile.” And it was good to know that the wearing of “body worn cameras” is going kind of nice.

I drove home convinced that there are some people truly dedicated to making relations better between the police and people they’ve harassed for centuries.

But the Tyrannosaurus Rex sitting smack dab in the middle of the discussion, “racial profiling,” was glossed over as though it was just a slight hiccup in the way of sound relationships between “Mr. Do Right” and angry black folks, rather than it being “The Problem!!!!!!!!!!”

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Thumbnail image for California’s Drought of Ideas: Why Jerry Brown’s Executive Order Misses the Mark

California’s Drought of Ideas: Why Jerry Brown’s Executive Order Misses the Mark

by Jim Miller 04.06.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

California’s epic drought has finally made its way to the front page. Last week, Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating the first-ever water restrictions in our state.

At the press conference announcing the move Brown observed that, “People should realize we are in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

However much one might agree with that statement, it must be said that the Governor’s order does not do nearly enough to go after agribusiness and big oil as many have been calling for leading up to Brown’s move. Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch put it succinctly, “In the midst of a severe drought, the governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.”

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Thumbnail image for Can One Union Save the Post Office?

Can One Union Save the Post Office?

by Source 04.06.2015 Activism

By David Morris / Common Dreams

Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing.

In recent years management has shuttered half the nation’s mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale.  A third of all post offices, most of them in rural areas, have had their hours slashed.

Hundreds of full time, highly experienced postmasters knowledgeable about the people and the communities they serve have been dumped unceremoniously, often replaced by part timers. Ever larger portions of traditional post office operations— trucking, mail processing and mail handling– have been privatized. Close to 200,000 middle class jobs have disappeared.

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The Dead Write No Poems

by Will Falk 04.06.2015 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

National Poetry Month happens to mark the year anniversary since I set out on the road to dedicate my life to the struggle against this dominant culture hell-bent on destroying the world.

Questions arise on this road, questions that I must answer if I am going to continue on this way.

One of the questions I seek answers for involves poetry. I love poetry. I love reading poetry, I love listening to poetry, and I love writing poetry. But, the hour is extremely late, and poetry means nothing if it is not used as a weapon in defense of the real world.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Americanization through Baseball

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Americanization through Baseball

by Maria E. Garcia 04.04.2015 Editor's Picks

By Maria E. Garcia

Settlement Houses across the United States, including Neighborhood House, stated that the Americanization of immigrant residents was one of their goals. Books and news article from the 1920s through the 1940s allude to the fact that baseball games and baseball teams were methods used in that Americanization.

Some articles go as far as to state that they were a way of replacing what was considered “Mexican interests.” Emory Bogarus from the University of Southern California (USC), in referring to the Mexicans in Los Angeles, states “Baseball clubs were used to counter the interest Mexicans had in bull fighting, gambling and cock fighting.”

Neighborhood House, the various canneries and some employers in San Diego formed baseball teams for their employees. This was done not only to Americanize them but to maintain loyalty to a particular employer. Involvement in this popular sport had consequences that broadened the meaning of Americanization in unanticipated ways.

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Thumbnail image for Last Will by Steve Kowit

Last Will by Steve Kowit

by At Large 04.03.2015 Books & Poetry

By Steve Kowit

A message from the SDFP editors: Last year we kicked off National Poetry Month with a selection of works by San Diego poets. Steve Kowit was one of those poets. We are deeply saddened to learn of his death. The encomiums that he deserves and the extensive remembrances of his life as a poet, essayist and educator will be forthcoming. But at this moment, in this place, we remember Steve’s poetry and what he had to say about poetry making.

Poetry, when it is at its most ineffable, transports us to places we had no reason to believe language could take us. …

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