Small-s Socialist Bernie Sanders Runs for President


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders formally entered the 2016 presidential contest yesterday.

Sanders’ entry into the race changes the dynamic on the left side of the political aisle. Up until now, coverage of the Democratic prospects for 2016 has consisted of a tape loop of Republican scandal mongering.  On some levels you might consider him Democrats’ answer to Ron Paul: an outsider with an agenda feared by party insiders and a wave of social media support.

There are other candidates jumping into the fray soon, including Democrat Martin O’Malley (Maryland) and Republicans George Pataki (New York), Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), and Rick Perry (Texas). Today I’ll focus on coverage and analysis of Sanders.   [Read more…]

What’s Next for San Diego’s Union-Tribune?


Today is the day when the reality of the Tribune Company’s acquisition of San Diego’s daily newspaper will become apparent for many who work there. The rest of us are going to have to wait for a while to see how things shake out.

According to Don Bauder at the Reader, people working in the printing and business divisions of the Union-Tribune will learn about the parent company’s plans for layoffs. Much of the work–including printing– currently performed at the company’s Mission Valley location will be folded into Los Angeles Times facilities.   [Read more…]

Activists Demand a Stand from Congressman Scott Peters as Trade Vote Nears


The political struggle over allowing the president fast track authority in negotiating a Pacific Rim trade deal is coming to a head.

A coalition of labor, environment, faith and community groups converged on the offices of Congressman Scott Peters yesterday, vowing not to leave until he committed to a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The occupation/sit-in ended Thursday evening after the group received word via the labor council’s Richard Barrera that the Congressman had agreed to face-to-face meeting to further discuss his position on the issue. (Don’t hold your breath.)   [Read more…]

A Disastrous Oil Pipeline Break in Santa Barbara


While clean up crews in protective suits are removing oil from a nine mile stretch of coastline in Santa Barbara County, investigators are assessing the impact and causes of a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline. The company failed to shut down the flow of oil for more than three hours after local beach-goers reported the leak, according to a spokesperson with the National Resources Defense Council.

Current estimates say 105,000 gallons may have leaked out, with 21,000 gallons reaching the sea. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County. Federal, state and local officials are looking at both civil liabilities and criminal infractions.   [Read more…]

ACLU Challenges Escondido Racism


The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of Escondido, claiming racial discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment were responsible for its refusal to allow a temporary residential facility for undocumented children operate in various parts of the city.

Southwest Key Programs, the nonprofit that sought permits for the facilities is asking the court to overturn the city’s rejection, and to award for unspecified damages. The case has the potential to highlight the racism permeating government and the white community in the North County city.

After all, it’s not like hating on brown people is anything new to Escondido, no matter what kind of rhetorical gymnastics are used for justification.   [Read more…]

Reactions to the Chargers Stadium Deal


Little green men from Mars could have seized city hall yesterday and I doubt anybody would have noticed.

The Mayor’s stadium advisory group presented its vision for building a facility worthy of consideration by the National Football League and its San Diego Chargers franchise. And that was the talk of the town.

However, there was other news… …and I’ll get to that first.   [Read more…]

Chargers Stadium Deal May Be Dead on Arrival


The press conference staged by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) hadn’t even happened yet when one well-connected reporter took to the twitter, saying the National Football League wasn’t going to be receptive to their ideas.

Early Monday morning news accounts were all about how the group had arrived at a plan for a new football stadium in San Diego with no tax increase required.

Interestingly enough, the announcement did not include any elected officials. Former Mayor Jerry Sanders was the highest profile person listed on the press release.   [Read more…]

The Race to Replace Marti Emerald


One month ago City Councilwoman Marti Emerald made the surprising announcement via Facebook that she would not be running for re-election.

Emerald, who was considered a shoo-in for another term in District 9, endorsed her chief of staff Ricardo Flores as the ‘perfect candidate’ for 2016 at a press conference. A half dozen or so people think otherwise, as two additional candidates have already declared campaigns and numerous others have expressed an interest.

Today we’ll take an early look at how the race to replace her is shaping up in an overwhelmingly Democratic council district. I can just about guarantee this contest will be one of the more interesting and unusual in recent San Diego history. And remember, it’s early! The primary isn’t for another year.   [Read more…]

Gloria Works to Get the Bugs Out of San Diego’s Referendum Process


As the San Diego City Council contemplates whether or not to put the future of the One Paseo development on the ballot, City Councilman Todd Gloria is seeking to reform the referendum petition process that brought them to this point.

The current dilemma over the mixed use development proposal in Carmel Valley represents the fifth time council actions have been blocked by referendum petition drives over the past eighteen months.

None of the changes proposed by Gloria at this time require affirmation by voters, but they do require councilmembers to take actions that will make the local political consultant types unhappy. First and foremost among that “low hanging fruit” would be a requirement that petitions include information about who’s paying for the effort.   [Read more…]

GOP Vultures Circle North County


It was a bad day for Supervisor Dave Roberts yesterday as UT-San Diego took a couple of pot shots at the sole Democrat on the County Board.

Roberts is under fire following staff resignations and allegations of mismanagement. His fellow supervisors refused to accept a severance package for his former chief of staff and admonished him for what they said were violations of the Brown Act.

The paper’s editorial board suspended its earlier endorsement of Roberts…   [Read more…]

Dark Clouds on San Diego’s Horizon


Developments over the past few days bode poorly for San Diego’s image and civic pride.

One of the main tourist attractions, the football team, the successor to the downtown development agency and the home for Comic Con are all in turmoil.

Controversies have arisen concerning the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s department is being investigated for civil rights violations arising out of  the arrest of a mentally handicapped man.

So many stories, so little time to tell them all…   [Read more…]

Security Forces Clash with Baja California Farmworkers


Police raids and street protests in Baja California have led to scores of injuries in the latest round of labor strife over pay and working conditions in San Quintin, an agricultural region producing produce sold in the United States.

This weekend’s violence followed the failure of Interior Minister Luis Miranda Nava to show up for a meeting with leaders of farm worker organizations in the area.

Max Correa Hernandez of the Central Campesina Cardenista (CCC), and Fidel Sanchez Gabriel, spokesman for the Movement of Agricultural Workers of San Quentin have called upon the state and federal government to intervene, saying more than 80 people have been injured by police in recent days.   [Read more…]

UT San Diego Sale: Inquiring Minds Want to Know


Another chapter in San Diego’s media history is closing, “Papa” Doug Manchester is selling San Diego’s Daily Fishwrap to Tribune Publishing, owners of the Los Angeles Times.

Today I’ll attempt to answer some obvious questions, re-cap reactions, and engage in aimless speculation about what the future will bring. Suffice it to say that those expecting a new era of enlightened journalism are bound to be disappointed, at least in the short run.

The good news here is that certain downtown interests are now “uncertain” about what the future will bring.   [Read more…]

Councilmembers to Faulconer: Restore Library Funding


These are supposed to be good times for the City of San Diego. Tax revenues are up. One of the biggest problems facing local government is reported to be hiring enough people to fill job openings being created.

So why are our public libraries getting the short end of the stick in Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed $3.2 billion budget for 2016? They may be opening for more hours, but you may need some luck getting what you’re looking for.

Today’s column also features items about librarians as defenders of civil liberties, a court ruling unfavorable to a major government surveillance program, more on the missing SDPD body cam footage and sad tale about worker exploitation
  [Read more…]

Showdown on Civic San Diego; Mayor Blasts Gonzalez Bill


Months of citizen activism and publicly voiced concerns about the role of Civic San Diego in neighborhood redevelopment outside of downtown are coming to a head.

Despite questions about Civic San Diego’s legal status, sudden and unexplained resignations on its board of directors and an unwillingness to make meaningful steps towards insuring projects are of actual benefit to the communities they impact, Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expending political capital to defend the organization…

Also in today’s column: another day another fee-not-a-tax lawsuit, Hillary speaks on immigration policy, and hurricane season, already?   [Read more…]

Is Jade Helm 15 The Obamapocalypse?


In today’s column I’m looking at the latest and best bit of right wing paranoia, Corinthian College’s political connections, a study about the causes of rising tuition for public higher education, an officer-involved fatality in Mira Mesa and a whole lotta dead trees…

An inter-agency training exercise set for this summer is stoking fears of an invasion or military take-over of Texas. And maybe even southern California.

Yes, folks, this is the Big One. After six years of hysteria over Death Panels, Sharia Law, and Big Brother coming to get your guns, the wingnut class has deemed Jade Helm 15 to be the Obamapocalypse.   [Read more…]

The Community vs Cops Conundrum


Today’s column includes coverage of proposed legislation in the wake of increasing concerns about police practices, another look at an SDPD officer-involved shooting, examples of the race/class divisions in prosecutions, some baseball news, and dispatches from the climate change denier front….

Multiple controversies about the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies are prompting calls for reform.

Since the first of the year, 396 people have been killed by police in the United States. The officer involved fatalities include two would-be terrorists who attacked a right wing “draw a picture of Mohammad” contest in Texas over the weekend.

By way of contrast, there have been 38 line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015.   [Read more…]

A Rough Ride in Baltimore Leads to Charges Against Police

gray homicide

By Doug Porter

Six Baltimore police officers now face charges following a medical examiner’s ruling calling 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death on April 12th a homicide.

States Attorney Marilyn Mosby told the press Gray died of a severe and critical neck injury suffered while handcuffed, shackled by his feet and left unsecured inside a police van as it took 38 minutes to deliver him to a police station just two minutes away.

Mosby went on to say Gray was “illegally arrested,” that police failed to establish probable cause for his arrest, and the knife he had when arrested was legal and was not a switchblade.   [Read more…]

The Closing of Corinthian Colleges Leaves Thousands of Students with Unhappy Choices

By Doug Porter

On Sunday, April 26th, the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, Inc. closed its doors. Twenty eight campuses, plus online options, spread over five states were gone. Ten thousand of the sixteen thousand students then-enrolled at those colleges are from California.

The predatory recruiting and loan sales practices of Corinthian left many students with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The U.S. Department of Education is urging students to considering transferring to other schools, including at least 13 other for-profit institutions with corporate owners subject to state or federal investigations.

While the former students are now eligible for complete forgiveness of their federal student loans, the Education Department is working hard to avoid a potential $214 million payout. The problem for many of these students is that their completed credits are not transferable to schools accredited as public institutions; they can keep (and run up further) their debt or start over.   [Read more…]

Senator Sanders is Running for President. Now Can We Get Past What Hillary Clinton Wore Last Night?

By Doug Porter

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, according to stories on Vermont Public Radio and in major media outlets around the country.

Sen. Sanders’ outspoken and honest nature should be a game-changer for what was shaping up to be dull primary season for Democrats. His presence in the race means we should see more than token discussions about the economic issues facing the country.  And, best of all, he’s not afraid of offending the billionaire bankers at the top of the heap.

Party regulars inclined to dismiss his candidacy because of the inevitability of a Clinton victory would do well to reconsider their stance. Just ask the Democratic party in Burlington, Vermont, which led a tea party-style obstructionist revolt after Sanders was elected Mayor in 1981.   [Read more…]

Mayor Faulconer’s Stealth Re-Election Campaign Emerges

By Doug Porter

You’d think that One San Diego, the sort-of government operated non-governmental organization (GONGO) charged with drumming up tea and sympathy for the under-served parts of the city, would be smart enough to stage an event in one of those neighborhoods without engaging in petty partisan politics. But you’d be wrong.

Take, for instance, the Community Forum on Jobs scheduled for this evening (April 28) at the Barrio Station. Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be joined by representatives of the Workforce Partnership, UC San Diego and the Chamber of Commerce to present the “next generation of jobs programs.”

None of the organizations or politicians involved even informed–much less invited–David Alvarez, the City Councilman representing both the locale for the event and a district facing serious challenges in employment.   [Read more…]

San Diego’s Vanity Documentary: How Smart Were We?

By Doug Porter

You’d have to be a real hermit to miss the stories coming from multiple media outlets recently about San Diego’s inclusion in “National Geographic’s Smart Cities” series. The breathless coverage bragged about millions of viewers, more millions on Facebook and what a great deal it was for the city.

A bunch of local institutions, including local governments, ponied up chunks of money to get our fair city a higher profile. I’m looking at the deal today and thinking we got played for suckers.

Maybe we were oversold on just how good that deal was. Maybe nobody said what we were really buying was “Paid Programming” on a Fox cable channel. Jeez, I wonder if we’ll be scheduled next to a documentary on Juicing Machines for the Millennium?   [Read more…]

Activists to Rep. Scott Peters: Do the Right Thing on Fast Track, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

By Doug Porter

People representing organized labor, environmental and faith groups staged a rally outside the offices of Rep. Scott Peters yesterday, urging him to oppose legislation limiting congressional oversight on trade agreements currently being negotiated.

The demonstration at Peters office is symbolic of a larger political battle being waged over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP). Business groups and most Republican legislators are supporting the Obama administration, contending an agreement is necessary as an important counterweight to China’s growing clout in the region.

In Washington on Thursday the so-called Fast Track legislation cleared an important hurtle as House Ways and Means Committee voted 25-13 in favor. A companion “fast-track” bill cleared a Senate panel on Wednesday and both are now ready for action in their respective chambers.

Today I’ll do my best–this is complicated–to give you an overview of what’s going on.   [Read more…]

California Vaccination Law Passes Education Committee

By Doug Porter

The California Senate Education Committee has approved a modified version of SB277, a controversial measure making vaccinations a prerequisite for enrollment in both private and public schools throughout the state. 

Medical exemptions for inoculations will be permitted and amendments were added expanding homeschooling options for unvaccinated children. Gone will be the personal-belief and religious exemptions currently exercised by about 10% of parents with school aged children in California. 

The Senate Committee’s action came the day after a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ruled out the possibility that immunizations could cause autism in a small group of children who were already primed to develop the disorder.    [Read more…]

Reader-izing San Diego’s CityBeat Weekly

While I’m guessing some coverage of interest to progressives will continue to appear, the heart and soul of the organization appear to be headed in another direction.

By Doug Porter

There’s trouble afoot at San Diego CityBeat, the alt-weekly known for its focus on local progressive politics, arts, and music.

Editor Dave Rolland and associate editor Kelly Davis both cited plausible professional reasons as they exited the publication in March, with Rolland promising readers “our departure does not foretell CityBeat’s demise.”

Incoming editor Ron Donoho started off vowing to “continue this alt-weekly tradition,” and pledging to “stink up the place if our local leaders foul things up.” Unfortunately these promises were woven into a bizarre scatological analogy, ending with “if we see brown, we’ll flush it down.”   [Read more…]