The Starting Line

A week-day SDFP column by Doug Porter

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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org

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Thumbnail image for Unraveling the Border Refugee Crisis

Unraveling the Border Refugee Crisis

by Doug Porter 07.31.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

At some time over next few days, President Obama will issue of executive orders pertaining to immigration. Likely options include reordering the priority list of deportation cases to dramatically expanding the 2012 “deferred action” program.

Those orders could mean allowing millions of family members to get work permits, or even allowing work permits for even broader groups, such as undocumented immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or virtually everyone who’s not considered a high priority to deport.

You can take it to the bank that the nativist wing of the GOP will be outraged. I expect to see more reporting disparaging refugees and undocumented residents. I am doubtful we’ll see a boost in reporting pointing towards the historical roots of the current crisis. So today I’ll call out a couple of stories going beyond the usual pap served up in the media.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? – Local Broadcast TV News Operations

Who Runs San Diego? – Local Broadcast TV News Operations

by Doug Porter 07.30.2014 Business

By Doug Porter / Woman’s Democratic Club

The sameness of the content can become overwhelming.

It’s happy, rappy and don’t-be-crappy whenever possible. Drama is reserved for ledes that bleed, i.e., crime and confrontations. Nuance is too difficult to jam into 30 seconds. It’s a formula, differing in graphics, presentation and the personalities of the persons reading the script.

It’s by-and-large an echo chamber. There’s a long standing tradition of prioritizing content based  on what appears in print media.  In San Diego that means “Papa Doug” Manchester and his Mission Valley minions have a disproportionate influence when it comes to political reporting.

Welcome to the world of commercial broadcast news in San Diego.

NOTE: This is the second installment of the Who Runs San Diego? series, a project of the Woman’s Democratic Club.

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Thumbnail image for Requiem for a Overachieving School Principal

Requiem for a Overachieving School Principal

by Doug Porter 07.29.2014 Columns

An Abrupt and Controversial Reassignment at the School for Creative and Performing Arts Leaves Parents Angry

By Doug Porter

Mitzi Lizarraga ran San Diego Unified’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA)  for seven years. Test scores improved, the school was named one of the best in the country repeatedly over the past 4 years and students were sought after by prestigious colleges and universities.

On Tuesday, June 10th, two days before graduation this year, she was gone. Students and staff were told Ms. Lizarraga was attending to an urgent and personal matter. “Interim” Principal Dr. Jenna Pesavento would be tasked with handing out diplomas to departing seniors.

But some seniors weren’t buying it. Graduation, usually one the high points in the life of a high school student, was fraught with rumors and dissension. Some seniors were talking about boycotting the ceremony. Other seniors wanted to hold up signs. Students were upset, some even in tears. Parents were in disbelief and did not understand what was happening.

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Thumbnail image for As the Downtown Drama on Minimum Wage Plays Out, Fast Food Workers Talk Civil Disobedience

As the Downtown Drama on Minimum Wage Plays Out, Fast Food Workers Talk Civil Disobedience

by Doug Porter 07.28.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Mayor Faulconer and his Chamber of Commerce puppeteers may not be willing to acknowledge it, but the train has left the station when it comes to minimum wages. They may think they can stop it, but they are wrong. The momentum to do something, anything about rampant economic inequality in the US is reaching critical mass.

Hizzoner met privately with advocates for increasing the minimum wage and earned sick leave on Friday, telling them while he appreciated their concerns, he was planning on vetoing an ordinance proposed by City Council President Todd Gloria. Any veto will likely be overridden by the Democratic super-majority on the Council.

Opponents of the measure are also threatening an initiative drive, which would have the effect of postponing implementation until a vote takes place in June, 2016. They are pointing to self-sponsored surveys saying as many as 14% of businesses would leave the city should the increases occur.

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Thumbnail image for Howling at the Moon: GOP on Track for Obama Impeachment

Howling at the Moon: GOP on Track for Obama Impeachment

by Doug Porter 07.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Yes indeedy. A majority (57%) of self described Republicans in a CNN poll released this morning say President Barack Obama should be impeached.

On Thursday the House Rules Committee approved legislation authorizing a lawsuit against the President, claiming he has overstepped his executive powers in delaying coverage mandates and granting waivers regarding the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The full house is expected to vote on authorizing the lawsuit next week.

Also on the radar for Congress is a show-down over re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank (a corporate welfare program supported by the Chamber of Commerce) with the potential to trigger another government shutdown come October 1st.

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Thumbnail image for Environment, Climate Change Don’t Seem to be on Mayor Faulconer’s Agenda

Environment, Climate Change Don’t Seem to be on Mayor Faulconer’s Agenda

by Doug Porter 07.24.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Delay, deny, and deflect are the backbone of the Party of No’s strategy in politics. Our confrontation-adverse mayor would seem to be favoring the first of those options when it comes to environmental considerations affecting San Diego.

Yesterday organizations concerned with the potential impacts of climate change packed a hearing of the City Council’s Environment Committee to urge Mayor Faulconer to quit stalling on this important issue. The presence of representatives of the American Lung Association San Diego Chapter, California Nurses Association, Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego Coastkeeper and San Diego 350 made it clear that this issue is important to many San Diegans.

Councilmembers David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Ed Harris voted for a resolution urging Mayor Faulconer to reduce pollution and prepare San Diego for the impacts of climate change with strategies to measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years. Councilmember Lorie Zapf voted in opposition.

A draft Climate Action Plan released during the interim administration of Council President Todd Gloria has gone nowhere in recent months.

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Thumbnail image for A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

A Proud Day of Activism for Labor, Refugee and Environmental Advocates

by Doug Porter 07.23.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tuesday, July 22 was a remarkable day for San Diego. Starting with an early morning prayer vigil at San Diego City Hall in support of a higher minimum wage and ending with hundreds of Escondido residents calling for a humanitarian response to the border refugee crisis, people stood up for causes they believed in.

At noontime a broad spectrum of supporters of organized labor rallied in Mission Valley, vowing to support workers for Food-4-Less should they go on strike. And in the afternoon environmental activists testified before the city council, urging Mayor Kevin Faulconer to move ahead with a review process needed to consider an ordinance curtailing the use of plastic shopping bags.

People chose to make a stand on issues that were important to them. They faced off against institutional and political hostility, along with a corporate media all-too-willing to give a platform to those willing to spew ridicule (the UT’s Greenhut) and venomous language (Escondido’s nativists). They stood up and said “we’re not going to take it any more” (UFCW’s Kasparian). They testified that now is the time to protect the environment (representatives of Coastkeeper, Surfrider and the Sierra Club).

It was a great day to be an American. It was a great day to be an activist.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego PD Stench Reaches Los Angeles

San Diego PD Stench Reaches Los Angeles

by Doug Porter 07.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The status quo types around San Diego seem to think there’s nothing wrong with our police department’s enforcement methods, particularly when it comes to not-really-human types like strippers.

You haven’t seen our District Attorney or our City Attorney holding a press conference, promising to investigate the SDPD’s recent “enforcement raids.” Mayor Faulconer can’t be bothered by questions about violations of people’s constitutional rights.

 And the UT? Nothing to see here, folks… Just cops doing their jobs…

At least the Los Angeles Times editorial board knows an outrage when they see one.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

Welcome to Comic Con: Be Sure to Cover Your Ass

by Doug Porter 07.21.2014 Cartoons

By Doug Porter

The one of the largest collections of make-believe comes to San Diego this week, kicking off Wednesday night with Preview Night followed by four days of events running Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27. More than 130,000  are expected for Comic Con 2014.

What should be a dream-come-true event for fans of the genres involved has turned out to be a nightmare in recent years as an institutional malaise about dealing with harassment issues has surfaced. Last year photographs of attendee derrieres were posted online after Comic-Con as some sort of sick tribute to the misogynist mentality that’s flourished in recent events in San Diego and other cities.

A group calling itself Geeks for CONsent is fighting back this year, circulating a petition aiming at getting Comic-Con International in San Diego (SDCC) to update its harassment policy. They’re asking for a “full harassment policy,” as well as anti-harassment signs and trained volunteers to deal with complaints.  

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Thumbnail image for DeMaio Campaign Lines Up at the Money Fountain for Both Koch and Tea

DeMaio Campaign Lines Up at the Money Fountain for Both Koch and Tea

by Doug Porter 07.17.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Recent campaign finance reports reveal extensive financing from both Koch Brothers and Tea Party affiliates for Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

Incumbent (CA-52) Congressman Scott Peters campaign organization fired off a press release this morning calling attention to his opponents’ backers. 

“Clearly the Tea Party recognizes a kindred spirit in Carl DeMaio, which is why they’re investing so heavily in his candidacy,” said Alex Roth, communications director for the Peters campaign in the press release. “The question is what these groups will expect in return if DeMaio is elected to Congress.”

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Overlords Seek Overturn of City Council Vote Raising Minimum Wage

San Diego’s Overlords Seek Overturn of City Council Vote Raising Minimum Wage

by Doug Porter 07.16.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Business interests opposed to raising the minimum wage in San Diego haven’t given up, despite a 6-3 city council vote on Monday approving an ordinance boosting wages for an estimated 172,000 workers.

Yesterday they launched a major public relations campaign seeking to portray the council vote as undemocratic and unfair to their interests. In closed door meetings led by Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, so-called business leaders are considering the logistics of mounting a signature gathering campaign to place an initiative on the ballot seeking to overturn the minimum wage increase.

Although meeting the August 8th deadline for inclusion on the November 2014 ballot is unlikely, a successful campaign completed by year’s end would have the effect of suspending the city council ordinance until such time as a vote could be taken. The next scheduled election is in June 2016.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

by Doug Porter 07.15.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.

Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton standing up in favor of the measure and United Foodservice and Commercial Workers’ Mickey Kasparian giving an impassioned speech.

In the end, the City Council did the right thing, voting 6-3 to enact by ordinance a minimum wage hike, with raises in three stages effective January, 2015. This means the measure will not be placed before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for Darrell Issa Leads the GOP Charge to Exploit Refugee Children

Darrell Issa Leads the GOP Charge to Exploit Refugee Children

by Doug Porter 07.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

San Diego Congressman Darrel Issa has never been accused of being camera shy. Since taking over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee in 2011 he’s done his best to to keep the media fixated through a series of open-ended investigations: Solyndra, Fast & Furious, the IRS, and Benghazi.

Since immigrant children being subpoenaed to testify wouldn’t provide much in the way of good optics-what if they cried?–, Issa’s tackling the current humanitarian crisis at the border with bluster and bloviating.

Along with three resolutions that could trigger civil actions against the Obama administration for its decision to ignore laws passed by Congress on issues related to immigration, Obamacare and welfare, he’s joined with other California Republicans in introducing legislation (HR5079) allowing for  the accelerated deportation of unaccompanied children to countries that do not share a direct border with the United States.

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Thumbnail image for Carl DeMaio’s Solutions for the Border Refugee Crisis? “Send ‘em Home” and “Send Me Money”

Carl DeMaio’s Solutions for the Border Refugee Crisis? “Send ‘em Home” and “Send Me Money”

by Doug Porter 07.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Reasonable voices are making themselves heard over the rabble clamoring for a quick and dirty solution to the Central American refugee crisis. Carl DeMaio, who’s running for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional seat, isn’t one of them.

The failed mayoral candidate and former city councilman has posted a “Secure Our Borders Now” petition on Facebook. You’re supposed to think that by signing this appeal the gov’t will know that you support “ ensuring the United States remains secure from the threat of drugs, guns, and criminals coming through our borders.” Fill out the form, hit send, and voila! Carl’s donation page appears, while your plea goes into a virtual dumpster.

It took some effort but Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis got DeMaio’s actual position (beyond weasel words) on this issue: “Send them home. Don’t give them hearings for asylum. Don’t screen them to ensure they’re not being trafficked.”

I suppose we can now add “send me money” to that list.

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Thumbnail image for A Lack of Affordable Housing and Low Wages Equals Business as Usual in San Diego

A Lack of Affordable Housing and Low Wages Equals Business as Usual in San Diego

by Doug Porter 07.10.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

This morning’s UT-San Diego ran a front page fairy tale about a resolution of the dispute between affordable housing advocates and developers regarding so-called linkage fees on new building projects in the city. We’re told that a plan released by “San Diego’s housing officials and the business community” Wednesday would “double” commercial building fees dedicated to affordable housing.

Hogwash.

The real story here is that wealthy developers and their lobbyists have effectively torpedoed the very idea of linkage fees in favor of “broadening out” the search for funding sources–which means proposing to stick those of us who actually pay taxes with the tab. Given San Diego’s historic adversity to even incremental tax hikes, this means nothing will be done.

Oh, and, by the way, no advocates for affordable housing have signed on to this “grand plan.”

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Thumbnail image for District Attorney Dumanis Holds up Three Fingers, Tells Media to Read Between the Lines.

District Attorney Dumanis Holds up Three Fingers, Tells Media to Read Between the Lines.

by Doug Porter 07.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis appeared on KUSI-TV’s morning talk show today to release a copy of her letter of recommendation written for the son of indicted Mexican financier Susumo Azano.

A consortium of media organizations including City News Service, inewsource, KFMB News 8, KNSD/NBC 7, KPBS, KSWB/Fox 5, the San Diego Daily Transcript, San Diego Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists San Diego, U-T San Diego, and Voice of San Diego had made repeated requests for a copy of the document.

At 5pm yesterday a deadline passed for what was essentially a demand letter (the last thing you do before you sue somebody) written by attorney Guylyn Cummins on behalf of the media organizations.

KUSI, it turns out, wasn’t one of those news organizations, apparently not wanting to displease a powerful prosecutor (whose office–wink,wink– can provide reliable news tips). Or maybe it’s just because the station is proud of their record of sucking up to politicians.

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Thumbnail image for Minimum Wage Increase, Earned Sick Days Proposal Set for Full City Council Hearing July 14th

Minimum Wage Increase, Earned Sick Days Proposal Set for Full City Council Hearing July 14th

by Doug Porter 07.08.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The full San Diego City Council is set to hear arguments over proposals increasing the minimum wage and allowing for up to five earned sick days. The measure being considered is Council President Todd Gloria’s attempt at comprise from an earlier proposal.

The specifics of the current plan are:

  • $9.75 Jan 2015
  • $10.50 Jan 2016
  • $11.50 Jan 2017
  • Indexed to inflation after Jan 2019
  • 5 Earned Sick days

Advocates say earned sick days will impact 285,000 people, with wage increases affecting more than 170,000 people.  They estimate an additional $265 million will be pumped into the local economy.

Yet to be decided is whether the council will simply enact an ordinance or put it before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for A Moral Crisis Unleashed in Murrieta

A Moral Crisis Unleashed in Murrieta

by Doug Porter 07.07.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

For better or worse, it appears last week’s confrontations in Murrieta have unleashed a lot of pent up anger and frustration. And it’s my guess that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. My take is that this has the potential to blossom into a full-blown identity crisis for this country, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the civil rights movement of the 20th century.

On July 4th protesters again gathered in front of the Murrieta Border Patrol station. This time around those supportive of the refugees out-numbered the teahadist types who’d blocked busses filled with families from Central America earlier in the week. No busses arrived at that location, making the day essentially a media event.

The award for most over-the-top headline goes to CBS8/KFMB: “Massive protest in Murrieta centers around migrant families.” There were two stories beneath the headline on the station’s website, one by Associated Press and one video by reporter Matt Johnson which included the phrase “More than 100 people…”

More than a hundred people is massive? Really? Let’s take a spin around the media world to see what other bullshit’s been doled out lately.

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Thumbnail image for SeaWorld: Stop the Fireworks, We Want to Get Off

SeaWorld: Stop the Fireworks, We Want to Get Off

by Doug Porter 07.03.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

It seems appropriate to report today –the day before July 4th– on a petition making the rounds calling on SeaWorld to end their nightly pyrotechnics.

Activist Alicia Coons and others are petitioning the City Council, asking them to tell SeaWorld they can only use fireworks alternatives for their nightly summer shows, including environmentally friendly laser light shows and electronic fireworks simulations.

In the past, those of us living inland hardly notice bada bing, bada-boom at about 9:50 each night during the summer months. This year, according to a report on CBS8/KFMB, the theme park is using a new vendor, “who may be using a higher degree of fire power.” The station played a video this week shot 20 miles away in Scripps Ranch, demonstrating just how far inland the sound travels…

NOTE: Unless there’s something REALLY BIG going on, I’m taking a day off from the column on Friday, July 4th. See you on Monday.

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Thumbnail image for Ugly Americans Block Migrant Buses in Murrieta

Ugly Americans Block Migrant Buses in Murrieta

by Doug Porter 07.02.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

A group of right-wing demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday, turning away three Border Patrol buses bringing 136 Central American migrant children and families to a Murrieta, California processing center.

So much for the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, which begins:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

What the nation saw in Southern California yesterday (and last week in Escondido) was nothing short of racism and ignorance covered with a varnish of false patriotism. Right wing extremists have been sowing the seeds for this kind of confrontation for weeks now, stoking fears of disease, crime and economic ruin.

Today we’ll delve into the details of this sad moment in US history.

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Thumbnail image for Reactions to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision Range From Real Disappointment to Really Dumb

Reactions to Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision Range From Real Disappointment to Really Dumb

by Doug Porter 07.01.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The Supreme Court saved its most controversial decisions for last for this session, announcing twin 5-4 votes yesterday in cases limiting public sector unions and extending the concept of corporations as persons to include the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage based on the religious beliefs of the owners.

While the rulings were narrower than they could have been, they triggered reactions filled with hyperbole and misinformation. For purposes of today’s column, we’ll take a look at responses to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the ruling holding closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Make no mistake about it, the creeping person-hood of corporations combined with a ruling favorable to the theocracy set is serious business. But the headlines at places like the Huffington Post were beyond the pale.

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Thumbnail image for Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

Court Rulings: Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

by Doug Porter 06.30.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Today was another day for bad news out of Washington. I knew there was trouble brewing when the announcement was made this morning that Supreme Court Justice Justice Samuel Alito would be reading the majority opinions for the high courts final decisions of this session.

First came the ruling (Harris v. Quinn) that home health care workers constituted a new class of “partial public employees” who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The ruling was narrower in scope than many unions feared a negative opinion might be, but significantly impacts one of fastest growing areas of labor organizing.

Then, in keeping with the current flair for the dramatic by Chief Justice Roberts (who decides when rulings will be announced), the Supreme Court (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) held that closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and can hold religious beliefs exempting them from the ObamaCare mandate on contraceptive coverage.

Again, the scope of this final ruling was not as broad as some analysts had feared. But if you happen to be a woman, its implications are huge.

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Thumbnail image for Battle Lines Are Drawn in Hillcrest

Battle Lines Are Drawn in Hillcrest

by Doug Porter 06.27.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The leadership of the Hillcrest Business Improvement Association has come under fire following the dismissal of executive director Sonya Stauffer earlier this month.

At the heart of this unrest is HBIA President Jonathan Hale. Depending on who you talk to, he’s either a power-mad incompetent who’s leading the group towards disaster or the victim of a political witch-hunt based on his relationship as the significant other of ‘new Republican’ congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

On one level the question is whether the event-centric HBIA, the driving force behind  the Hillcrest Farmers Market, Hillcrest Hoedown, CityFest, the Pride Block Party, and Mardi Gras, is really acting in the best interests of the estimated 1,300 businesses in the area. Critics of the  city-sanctioned group are calling for the resignation of Hale and asking for an audit of HBIA  finances

On a deeper level the controversy reflects divisions within the LGBTQ movement, which has historically been centered in Hillcrest.

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Thumbnail image for Score One for the GOP- Immigration Reform is Dead

Score One for the GOP- Immigration Reform is Dead

by Doug Porter 06.26.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Yesterday Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez rose on the floor of the House waving a red card (ala futbol) to pronounce the end of immigration reform.

As Lawrence Downes, writing in the New York Times put it, “In sports terms, Mr. Gutierrez’s speech was simply marking the moment when a losing team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.”

The US Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill one year ago this week. Republicans in the House rejected that approach, preferring to introduce piecemeal legislation which even they wouldn’t and/or couldn’t pass.

It’s been a year of excuses from the GOP bench and, to carry the sports analogy further, excuses are for losers.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido Bigots Unite to Keep Migrant Child Shelter Out

Escondido Bigots Unite to Keep Migrant Child Shelter Out

by Doug Porter 06.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Nearly five hundred people jammed the Escondido Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday night. At issue was a request for a conditional use permit to open a 96 bed shelter in a now-shuttered nursing home for unaccompanied minors detained after crossing the border.

Escondido’s now-famous racism ran rampant in the room. Despite Escondido Commission Chairman Jeff Weber repeatedly emphasizing that, by law, the panel could only consider local land-use issues, the fear of being overrun with Brown People dominated the discussion.

Here’s an example of what was being used to whip up hatred in the community:

The people of Escondido are about to be invaded with criminals from foreign countries, sent to them by the President of the United States. A former hospital, closed due to low ObamaCare reimbursements, is being transformed into either a prison or a group home. Of course, once Barack drops them off in Northern San Diego County nothing stops them from walking away and into the shadows of our large towns nearby

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