Manufacturing Consent for a New Stadium in San Diego

By Doug Porter

Two months ago prospects for building a new football stadium were waning. The thinking was that San Diego had done too little, too late to accommodate the demands of the Chargers for a new facility. The football team, it seemed, was ready to head north for a more obliging locale.

Now, thanks to a blizzard of press releases and the timely release of a think tank study, the tide may be turning. Today we’ll take a look at those developments and the role they may play in shaping public opinion.

Back on February 2nd a certain columnist (me) noted  “The only thing more likely to be declared dead on arrival than any plan coming out of the newly ensconced Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group for San Diego is the budget proposal the President is sending to the Republican-controlled congress.” 
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“100 Things” on My Mind

By Ernie McCray

I just finished a very pleasant read, “100 Things Arizona Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die,” a book written by two of the best sports writers around, Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino.

They write a lot about Arizona Basketball History and having played a role in that history, and having been around it all my life, the book couldn’t help but resonate with me in special ways.

In a chapter about University of Arizona traditions I found the words to a fight song that’s flowed through my veins and bones ever since I first heard it as a 14 year old, back in 1952:

Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Bear Down, Arizona
Hit ’em hard, let ’em know who’s who
Bear Down, Arizona
Bear Down, Red and Blue
Go, go Wildcats, go
Arizona Bear Down

 
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San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

By Doug Porter

It’s been a bad week for cherished institutions in America’s Finest City. Our blessed football team, our world famous zoo, our info-tainment water park, and the mayor’s Hope Diamond of re-development all find themselves in trouble of one sort or another.

You might even say business as usual is getting unusual for San Diego. While a few instances of bad news do not constitute an omen of fundamental change, there’s reasons to believe we have not seen the end of these wannabe sordid sagas.

Then there are the shenanigans taking place in the electoral arena. Jacquie Atkinson is challenging Rep. Scott Peters. Supervisor Dave Roberts is in some kind of trouble. And those pesky House Republicans are after funding studying climate change, Again. 
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Baseball is Not a Metaphor

By Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

So you spend a great deal of your time telling them to keep their heads up and to stay in it. Indeed, the game is hard enough that, for lots of our young people bent on more immediate gratification, the patience and work it takes to get better is too much for them. 
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Bonnie’s Law: San Diego District Attorney Makes Up the Rules

By Doug Porter

In recent weeks there have been stories published nationwide about the San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ prosecution of people alleged to be gang members–not linked to any crime–for exercising their First Amendment rights; things like posting on Facebook and recording rap songs.

There was a paragraph here claiming the County DA’s office was refusing to process petitions for re-sentencing under the provisions of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for drug possession and other minor offenses.  We have since learned that the source for this assertion was, at best, exaggerating. Since nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, we’ve left the headline up and hope to correct any false impressions that had been made…. back to the rest of the story

And just make sure her “message” gets out, the District Attorney has unveiled a public information website competing with San Diego County’s News Center which, according to a story at City Beat, operates with a $3.1-million annual budget and 11 full-time communications officers. 
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Pot Wars: Congress Moves to Enable Medical Marijuana, Local Dispensaries Fight to Open

By Doug Porter

After years of quibbling, San Diego finally got around to enacting regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries last year. The first such entity to clear those legal hoops is slated to open in Otay Mesa this month.

Other licenses under consideration are being stalled by appeals based on environmental regulations filed by would-be competitors. And one location scheduled for a hearing this week is facing an appeal based on the statement “Latinos don’t support this” coming from the San Ysidro Community Planning Group.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC a bi-partisan group of Senators are introducing legislation today that would amount to federal recognition of marijuana used for medical purposes. 
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Face the Facts, San Diego, No New Football Stadium is Likely

By Doug Porter

After more than a decade of studies and surveys, the most likely answer to San Diego’s stadium dilemma is that it ain’t happening here.

Let the finger pointing begin.

Both locations currently under consideration–Mission Valley and the east end of downtown–face legal and logistical considerations that make them non-starters. the mayor has declared that these are the only options on the table.

But the real reason is political. The Chargers’ preference for a joint use facility in as part of an expansion of the convention center is opposed by hotel and tourism interests. Each side considers the other’s proposal to be unfavorable to their own financial success.

And then there’s the matter of money. 
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Faulconer’s First Year: Mostly Doing Nothing, But Looking Good While Doing It

By Doug Porter

Unlike the women performing on the field at Chargers’ games, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is getting paid for his cheerleading efforts.

The local daily paper ran a puff piece on Sunday, celebrating Faulconer’s first year in office, reporting on the “nearly unanimous praise” for making San Diego a “vastly different place than it was under the tumultuous tenure” of he-who-cannot-be-named-without-contempt.

Largely airbrushed out of history was former interim mayor Todd Gloria, whose reward for leadership following the fall of Filner was to get booted out of the position of City Council President, lest he actually accomplish any items proposed during his tenure. 
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Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

By Doug Porter 

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

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

The American Automobile Association says the steep increase in prices comes on the heels of a record 123 consecutive days of declines.  
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The Unnecessary Parts of the ‘Chargers Are Going to Leave’ Narrative

By Doug Porter

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

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

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

By Doug Porter

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

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

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

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

By Doug Porter 

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

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

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

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

By Doug Porter

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

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

GOP leaders have cheered the ruling, saying it proves President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration exceeded his legal authority. Millions of other folks feel otherwise. 
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Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

By Bill Adams / UrbDezine

My family will attest, I’m a San Diego Chargers football fan. During football season, not only is the TV tuned to Chargers games, but so are multiple strategically located radios around the yard, lest I miss any action while attending to a honey-do task or breaking up an argument between my children.  Then there are the pre and post game shows, and wasted hours reading about the draft, trades, and other team side shows. Lest I forget to mention, I’m also a San Diego County resident – just outside the city’s boundaries.

However, the Chargers are one of several NFL teams, along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, considered likely to move to another city unless they receive a new football stadium.  The likely recipient city: Los Angeles.

Ironically, each of these teams have been previous occupants of Los Angeles.  Whether the Chargers  remain in the San Diego or move to greener pastures is almost certainly tied to whether they receive a new stadium.  The same is true of the others. Teams argue that older stadiums are not capable of being modified to provide the modern amenities and environment to allow the teams to be financially competitive, i.e., maximize profits — lest anyone forget that NFL teams are private profit-driven businesses, not public assets. 
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Immigration Standoff: Congressional GOP Hoping to Learn from the Second Kick of a Mule

By Doug Porter

The logjam on Capital Hill has gotten to the point where even the Daily Fishwrap editorial board has noticed.

“It doesn’t seem to matter much which party controls Congress or whether a single party controls both houses or just one. Either way, there is still unacceptable impasse on key issues.”

The Republican strategy to stop President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration is failing. The clock is ticking on what would be a largely symbolic (but politically damaging)  shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.

House and Senate GOP leaders are pointing the finger at one another. Senate leader Mitch McConnell says the ball is back in the House’s court. House Majority leader John Boehner trotted out his bi-annual warning to Democrats to “get off their ass.” 
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Labor Unrest Spreads to Refineries, West Coast Ports, SoCal Edison and Football Stadiums

By Doug Porter

Local gasoline prices have increased by roughly 20% over the past few weeks. Retailers dependent on imported goods are voicing concerns about bottlenecks in supplies coming through west coast ports. And that could be bad news for consumers. There’s more to the story than what you’ve likely seen or heard.

While the factors surrounding both these development are complex, a major element in each are labor unions seeking safe working conditions. In what amounts to a sad commentary on the state of the news media in the U.S. the coverage has been largely one dimensional, leading with management’s pronouncements about wages and benefits.

Right now the issues being put before the public are rising fuel costs and the possibility the next new gadget may be in short supply. What’s missing is the realization that the health and safety issues are at the core of these economic disruptions. Today I’ll try to round out the picture of what’s really happening here. 
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Super Bowl XLIX: Winners and Losers Off the Field

By Doug Porter

 According to reports from around the country not much is going to happen this weekend approaching the importance of a certain Sunday football game. The New England Patriots will face off against the Seattle Seahawks (3:30pm PT) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. 

An estimated 184 million Americans are expected to watch Super Bowl XLIX, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That’s about 55 million more humans than voted in the 2012 presidential election. Beside the celebratory nature of the day, it’s an event with a huge economic impact. 

So today I’ll indulge in some mostly off-the-field news items; some serious and some silly, starting with a look at the non-helmet wearing people who make it happen. 
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Police Officer Associations and Racism: If the Shoe Fits….

By Doug Porter

Television networks presented live coverage of the funeral for slain NYPD Officer Wenjian Liu on Sunday. As the ceremony was underway officers on the streets outside the funeral parlor turned their backs when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on  on streetside screens to give a eulogy.

Estimates of just how many officers participated in this protest varied, with some outlets saying a majority turned their backs and the New York Times reporting only “hundreds” involved. The rank and file NYPD action (many higher ups are political appointees) occurred despite a plea for no political statements from Liu’s widow.

As the snarky website Wonkette noted, a photographer documenting the situation was treated for “minor irony-induced whiplash” after being told by officers at the scene “You’re being very disrespectful walking around like that.” 
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Let’s say “No More” Violence Against Women

By Ernie McCray

It’s sad that there’s such a notion as “violence against women,” but it’s heartening that, seemingly, we, as a society, are now looking into such an unsavory practice as though we want to do something about it.

A catalyst for a big part of our interest in the subject has been the National Football League (who would have ever dreamed that?) with their “No” to violence against women television PSA’s, featuring present day and ex-pro football players, motivated by that horrible tape we saw of star running back, Ray Rice, punching his wife out in an elevator, one of the nastiest sights anyone could ever see. 
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The City Council’s Symbolic Re-Vote on Lightner as President

By Doug Porter

It’s business as usual in San Diego. Amid concerns that last week’s city council election of Sheri Lightner as president, may have followed meetings in violation of the Brown Act, a special meeting has been called today to affirm the decision.

NBC7 reported last week on what might be “serial meetings,” one-on-one private sessions involving six council members. They passed on the findings to the City Attorney’s office.

Since that decision Councilwoman Lightner has been acting as president. I believe her election was orchestrated by local business interests as retaliation for Councilman Todd Gloria aggressive support of a local minimum wage ordinance. 
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‘Internet Safety Software’ Handed Out by San Diego County DA’s Office Might Not Be So Safe

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s County District Attorney has been distributing internet monitoring software that exposes users to the very predators, identity thieves, and bullies they claim the program protects children against, according to a story by Dave Maass posted at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Deeplinks Blog.

The free Computer Cop program featuring a photo of DA Bonnie Dumanis on the CD cover, “is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies,”according to Maass. His investigation found the program, usually branded with a department’s name,  is handed out by hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country with the promise that using it constitutes a “first step” in protecting children online.

In addition to advocating for parents protect their children by using the software via the county website, DA Bonnie Dumanis also appears in promotional videos for the company. The EFF story also includes allegations that false endorsements from the ACLU and the Treasury Department were used in marketing materials for Computer Cop.

 
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The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Johnny Rubalcava

By Maria E. Garcia

Johnny Rubalcava is a very young 90-year-old man. He has been married five times, his last marriage lasting 30 years. He has been a widower for the last two years. When you look at Mr. Rubalcava you think you’re speaking to a man of 70, not only because of his wonderful memory, but because he carries himself like a much younger man.

He started going to the Neighborhood House at the age of six, during the 1930’s. Like so many of the other people I interviewed, Mr. Rubalcava remembers Neighborhood House as the place where kids in Logan Heights learned to dance, play on sports teams and enjoy occasional trips to camp. 
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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. 
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