Street Repairs Could Jump Start Municipal Internet

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By Jose Caballero

It’s no secret that when it comes to streets San Diego has a rough ride. We were recently ranked 8th worst in the nation for our roads, costing drivers $843 a year in maintenance costs. Mayor Faulconer has said he will fix them over the next 5 years. However, he’s missing a major opportunity if they just put down new pavement.

In February, the Federal Communications Commission preempted state laws banning municipal internet services, allowing cities, meaning San Diego could build networks featuring lightning fast, gigabit, fiber to the premise (FTTP) service, which would be among the fastest anywhere in the world. This has been done successfully in Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC, with other cities from Seattle to Baltimore considering making their own systems.
  [Read more…]

San Diego Takes the Lead in Greenpeace Strike

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By Andrew J. Mackay and Bryan Kim

On August 5, 16 of 19 canvassers for Greenpeace in San Diego walked off the job. They were followed by a majority of the Sacramento office. 22 total employees of the Frontline program, Greenpeace’s in-house fundraising program, have had enough of labor policies that give them no job security.

The strike, led by two veteran canvassers in Socialist Alternative San Diego, comes against an organization that claims to be progressive. However, Greenpeace uses a quota system where even veteran fundraisers can be fired for missing quota two or three weeks consecutively. Senior workers bring in six or seven times their salary in recurring donations, yet are routinely fired. Morale is understandably very low. But choosing to resist, they have mobilized in defense of their jobs and dignity. Non-profits beware: the persuasive skills developed by your employees can be used against you. Instead of selling Greenpeace, organizers now sell the strike against it.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: It’s Time for the Downtown Crowd to Pay Its Own Way

tourism biz

Editors Note: Attorney Cory Briggs responded to a commenter on Thursday’s Starting Line item regarding a proposed ballot measure on hotel taxes and a shared a bit of history about the tourism industry’s relationship with the City of San Diego. We’ve taken the liberty of posting it as a “Readers Write” essay.

…I offer this for the sake of precision. The scam is very clever, and I don’t want people to mistake one bad actor for another (which is very easy to do in this town because there are so many). To win at the ballot box, we need the public to understand exactly what’s going on. (I’ll jump on my soapbox at the end.)

The SDTA is not taxing anyone. The City is taxing tourists 10.5% as TOT and then another 2% for the “Tourism Marketing District Assessment” but it’s really a tax. The hoteliers claim to have imposed the TMD tax on themselves as a “self-assessment,” which is how they rationalized not putting the 2% hike to the voters, but then wrote the rules in a way that allows them to put the 2% TMD tax on their hotel guests’ bills right next to the TOT. The hotels collect the money from their guests and pay it over to the City, and the City then writes a check for that same 2% (after deducting a small admin fee) to the San Diego Tourism Marketing District Corporation.

The SDTMDC is run by a small handful of big hoteliers, and they get to decide how the money is spent. At this point, the public has no ability to influence the rate of the TMD tax or how it is spent — except at the ballot box if we get enough signatures on this initiative.   [Read more…]

Kickback Kevin Takes Tea with ALEC in San Diego

Kevin Faulconer District redo

By Daniel Firoozi

For a “moderate” mayor, San Diego’s Kevin Faulconer sure enjoys immersing himself in far-right political organizations.

In the coming days the first term Republican will be attending the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that quite literally churns out bills for legislators to copy-paste and ratify as laws back at home. Now, a Republican attending a vaguely conservative club seems innocuous enough, but a quick background check demonstrates that ALEC is anything but a mainstream political organization.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: Chargers and San Diego Play ‘We’ve Got a Secret’

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By Joe Flynn

Editor Note: Mr. Flynn’s post is in response to How to Tell if the Chargers Negotiations are Real by Liam Dillon which appeared in Voice of San Diego.

All the publicity, all the press conferences by the mayor and the task force, and now when it appears there is a tidbit of real news —— it’s confidential. “You kids don’t need to know this right now, maybe we’ll tell you later.”

Sometimes it’s better to get the information out right away. To hold back just leads people to speculate; what is it that warrants this kind of mystery?   [Read more…]

Readers Write: Did Faulconer’s Use of CityTV Violate Media Use Policy?

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By John Stump

Editor Note:: This complaint to California’s Fair Practices Commission questions the use of CityTV to record a rally held by Mayor Faulconer to defeat Assembly Bill 504 which would strengthen oversight of Civic San Diego’s land use decisions. SDFP has included a video of the rally and this link to the city’s multimedia policy.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: Super-Sizing the Crawford High School Stadium

An Open Letter to the San Diego Unified School District and the Board of Education

By Jim Zumbiel

We in the El Cerrito Community, along with other neighborhoods all around the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), have been under siege by SDUSD for the last few years and would like to respectfully pose some questions to SDUSD and Board of Education.

The proposed plan from SDUSD is to build an 18 million dollar sports complex at Crawford High School which will include a 2250 seat stadium in the residential El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego. This school has not received any improvements, besides a new library and an internet upgrade, since its inception in 1957. It’s the last school in the district to receive upgrades of a substantial nature.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: A God-Given Right to Bear Arms?

By Brad Bianchi

I heard one of my more conservative free-thinking friends speak out in defense of an American’s right to bear arms, to amass as many weapons as he or she may choose, without the obtrusive regulations of the Socialist American Government. He was a little heated. Perhaps he believed he had a right to be. After all, here was Obama, coming to get his guns. At the end of his diatribe, I clearly smiled when he said, “After all, it’s my God- given right to bear arms.”

Needless to say, it was the end of the conversation. How can you argue with that? At least on his level.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: The Right Wing’s Sudden Love for France

By Daniel Smiechowski

How soon we forget. Let truth be told in no uncertain terms and straight as an arrow.

Flashback to the dark days of late 2002 and early 2003 when “Bring em on,” and “Shock and awe” were all the rage. Americans rallied in the streets like a swarm of locusts in the Western Sahara. Down with the French pansies they chanted while pouring French wine down the gutter.

Former French President Jacques Chirac had admonished President Bush not to invade Iraq and called his decision the worst foreign policy blunder in all of America’s history.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: All I Want For 2015 Is a Better NFL

By Raul Carranza

One of my earliest memories is from my Dad taking me to the hotel where the Broncos were staying for the ’97 Super Bowl. He is a lifelong Broncos fan and was probably hoping that his adorable disabled son would get him a few autographs from the players.

I was too young to really get the magnitude of the event. Everything I knew about football came from my Dad and I was excited because he was excited.

We weren’t the only people trying to get autographs, but, sure enough, we were able to cut to the front of many lines and get time with a bunch of the players and coaches. We even got to take a picture with the Head Coach, Mike Shanahan. Then my Dad tried to get us to meet John Elway, which not even my wheelchair could penetrate the posse surrounding him. Still, we were happy because we got to see the back of his head … in person.   [Read more…]

A Call for Councilwoman Zapf to Do the Right Thing

When you were elected to the San Diego City Council 4 years ago, to represent my Clairemont neighborhood, I was willing to give you a chance.

After all, you claimed to be sensitive to working class issues, as asmall business owner. And you have mentioned having Mexican-American family members, which made me hopeful you would find common ground with the growing Latino community in my native Clairemont.

But this week, your staff’s comments about how she “wanted to shoot” the “… idiot” protesters at a City Council event displayed a shocking lack of awareness about public safety, civil disobedience, efforts to achieve social justice, and the constitutional right of Americans to use peaceful protest to communicate with elected officials.

And what makes this latest situation even worse: it was the SECOND time a member of your staff displayed this tone deaf, cavalier disrespect towards public protest.   [Read more…]

Working Tech for Good Causes and Loving It Every Day

By Oliver James

I threw away a $100k+ a year career for my community. I live in City Heights, San Diego, California and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And this is why I did it.

Let’s rewind a bit back to 2010. I was working for a marketing company providing design and marketing services to the financial industry. I was making around $65k a year and life was good (or so it seemed).

Don’t get me wrong $65,000 a year was great. But I wasn’t really, truly happy.   [Read more…]

Trailblazing Effort Needed on San Diego Climate Action Plans

By Jeffrey Meyer

With the recent release of a new United Nations report on the global impact of climate change, we are given still another chilling warning that we are facing catastrophe unless we accelerate efforts to confront this crisis.

The release of this report comes on the heels of a court decision rejecting the San Diego County climate action plan and the ongoing development of this state-mandated plan by the City of San Diego. It raises the stakes for everyone and compels us to reach higher and dig deeper for community solutions to this crisis.

The warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an urgent signal for our city and county officials to not only meet state laws on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but to explore higher standards.   [Read more…]

Defining a “Good Democrat”

By Shannon Lienhart

This is a letter that I wrote in response to an email sent to me by a member of the Democratic Central Committee.  

In an earlier email exchange with members of DCC, I had referred to a “good Democrat”.  

I was then asked to define a what a good Democrat is.

Hi Richard –

I am so glad that you asked….   [Read more…]

Getting Past Facebook’s “Like” Button

By Lori Saldaña

“You like me! You really LIKE me!”
(paraphrasing Sally Field, winning an Academy Award for her lead performance in “Norma Rae” in 1979, pre-Facebook)

I recently posted on my Facebook page about taking a sabbatical from clicking “Like.” I encouraged people to share it, not just like it, and had only a few results.

I suspect, as far as Facebook is concerned, I’m dead. I haven’t “liked” anything in weeks — but my human friends know otherwise.   [Read more…]

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

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.   [Read more…]

Why Team Sports Are Bad for Society

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.   [Read more…]

Yazidi Moon

By Nat Krieger

On the night of August 10th the people of San Diego looked up in the sky and saw exactly what thousands of Yazidi men, women, and children trapped on the slopes of Mount Sinjar saw: a supermoon, the moon closer to our planet than it will be for more than another year.

In the day leading to the super, or perigean moon, I searched the web trying to find something out about this people on the verge of extermination. There isn’t much. First the shock of learning that for nearly a thousand years a faith described as syncretic and nonviolent had withstood the never ending storm surge of monotheism spinning across the Middle East and Mesopotamia…

…Followed by the realization that, as with most religious minorities who don’t force their beliefs on other groups and rely on oral tradition to teach their children, the few written accounts of the Yazidis are nearly all by outsiders who offer mainly speculation as to when the religion started, or why, or what its roots are.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: Unlearning the Myth That Is America

By Anna Prouty

In Ferguson, they’re spraying protesters with tear gas. In Ferguson, they’re forcing the journalists out of the streets, telling them to turn off their cameras and arresting them. In Ferguson, they have SWAT teams with guns trained on peaceful protesters. In Ferguson, they shot an unarmed black boy.

In 28 hours, somewhere in America, a cop or vigilante will shoot another black man. Then another. And another.

I would like to say I can’t believe this is happening in my country, but my country isn’t a place I recognize anymore.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: Alumni Appeal to Save UCSD’s Che Cafe

Dear UCSD Activist Alumni,

The San Diego Free Press has published a fine article, written by the Che Cafe Collective. Please circulate it widely. SDFP editor, Frank Gormlie, is an alum of UCSD.

Alumni of the UCSD co-ops are mounting a call for all alumni to write to the University telling them we are cancelling the “planned giving” that we previously intended to do upon our demise, until and unless they back off and treat the Che Cafe and all the co-ops with proper respect.

As a union activist (SEIU steward and IWW San Diego Organizing Caucus and formerly, in my grad school days, Press Representative of my AFT TA local in Oregon), I am interested in working with people to try to get all the unions at UCSD (and the SD-Imperial Counties Labor Council) to issue support statements and consider donating money to the collective for legal expenses and for facility maintenance.   [Read more…]

Balboa Park 2015 – What Went Wrong?

By David Lundin

Plans for the Balboa Park Centennial in 2015 are non-existent. The Official Centennial management entity, Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. [“BPCI”], is closing its doors and transferring all its powers and obligations to the City.

More than three million dollars in public funds and donations have been spent on inflated salaries, consultant’s fees, payments to Board member’s friends, and other expenses having little if any salvage value. Time, credibility and opportunity have all been irrevocably lost.

What went wrong ? How could this major debacle for the City and Balboa Park have been prevented ? The story for most total failures begins at the beginning. This is no exception. In a perfect world, or at least one better than San Diego, what should have happened ?   [Read more…]

Remembering the UC San Diego Cookout, the Noose, and their Aftermath

An Open Letter, Four Years After the “Winter of our Discontent”

Jorge Mariscal / UCSD Professor of Literature
Fnann Keflezighi / UCSD ‘11
Patrick Velásquez /San Diego Chicano/Latino Concilio

Four years ago, the fragile tranquility of the La Jolla campus was shattered by a series of events now known as the “Compton Cookout.” Cutting-edge scholarship on campus climate emphasizes the need for universities to continually revisit their ‘historical legacy’ as a benchmark for progress. Therefore, as much as administrators would like to erase the “Cookout” and its aftermath, it is crucial that we remember the events of February 2010.

We view calls to “move beyond” the past and erase any memory of the events that transpired as nothing more than an attempt to release newly installed administrators from their responsibilities. It is time to hold accountable everyone involved in the “strategic planning” that will determine the future of UCSD and impact the lived experiences of future generations of students.   [Read more…]

One Woman’s Thoughts on ‘A Day of Honor’

By Judi Curry

At the risk of alienating a lot of people, I am absolutely incensed by the City Council naming a day after Peggy Shannon for the “harassment suffered by the mayor of San Diego.”  A day in her honor? For what?  What did she do that was so honorable?  Stop a thief? Adopt orphan children; Save people from a burning building? Fund a scholarship for children that can’t afford to go to college?

She is having a “day of honor” so that the city does not have to pay out any money from the harassment of the former mayor?  She is having a “day of honor” because she told the world about the mayor’s flirting with her? She is having a “day of honor” because she “. . . had butterflies in her stomach because she didn’t know what was going to happen the next time the mayor came to her desk”?   [Read more…]

Reader’s Response to “What Does City Heights Lose when Albertsons Closes?”

“The branch doesn’t fall far from the tree” vis á vis City Heights and Albertson’s

By Remigia Bermúdez’ 

“The branch doesn’t fall far from the tree” comes to mind in so many respects as I read with great care the insightful article written by SDFP’s Anna Daniels on the economic prospect’s and livelihood of City Heights residents without a clear direction as to who does what about City Heights’ concerns losing a major supermarket, jobs, economic base and faith in local government.

My comments are my professional/personal opinions in an attempt to answer the original questions posed by Anna Daniels in her outstanding article on the impact of Albertsons departure from the City Heights redeveloped project area:

  • 1) Who benefited most from the original redevelopment project in City Heights
  • 2) Who are the parties of interest?

  [Read more…]

Readers Write: San Diego’s Fall From “Finest”

By Timothy P. Holmberg

Eds Note: The following commentary was submitted as a comment on Jim Miller’s column Selling Kevin Faulconer: The Big Bamboozle. We liked it and, with the author’s permission, decided to give the essay its own post.

As a former reporter, I have watched mayors of both parties come and go, and with them their various constituencies (in fairness, most have been Republican). I have also watched the heavy onset of partisan apparatuses. Over the years, these partisan machines have polarized this city and hijacked its legislative agenda. In its place, they have pressed agendas that have little if any affect on the quality of life of the citizens this government is supposed to serve.

But underneath that cyclone of hyper-partisanship, this city has slowly rusted. Streets have all but crumbled, sidewalks turned to rubble, sewer pipes spew their stew and traffic has slowly ground to a state of molasses. We have seen our city’s reputation tarnished and our credit rating trashed. Our treasures have either been plundered or are crumbling in disrepair. While John Moores, Corky McMillan, Doug Manchester and Dean Spanos prospered, San Diego’s small business community has received less attention than a stray dog.   [Read more…]