Government

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

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

by Doug Porter 04.27.2015 Business

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?

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Thumbnail image for Is San Diego Up for the Challenge of Marrying Environmental and Economic Justice?

Is San Diego Up for the Challenge of Marrying Environmental and Economic Justice?

by Jim Miller 04.27.2015 Columns

“A beautifully sustainable city that is the playground of the rich doesn’t work for us.”

By Jim Miller

Some of the best political news in America in quite a while happened last week in New York City. While much of the country is still under the sway of the climate-change denying right and thus fiddling while the world burns, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio came out with precisely the kind of bold, visionary plan that we need to address not just the existential threat of climate change but the equally pressing and dangerous trend toward deepening economic inequality.

Indeed, taking a page out of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, de Blasio made the interrelated nature of the two great crises of our age clear when outlining his “One New York: The Plan for a Just and Strong City” as he asserted that, “I believe fundamentally that you can’t have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability.”

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Thumbnail image for How Communities Can Benefit from Private Development in California

How Communities Can Benefit from Private Development in California

by Source 04.27.2015 Business

By Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP / San Diego UrbDeZine.

There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities.

However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights.

The poster-child for the interaction between people and projects is South San Francisco, with the region having the most expensive rents in the nation, where a household needs to make $37 an hour wage to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.

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Thumbnail image for The Anti-Surveillance State: Clothes and Gadgets Block Face Recognition Technology, Confuse Drones and Make You (Digitally) Invisible

The Anti-Surveillance State: Clothes and Gadgets Block Face Recognition Technology, Confuse Drones and Make You (Digitally) Invisible

by Source 04.27.2015 Business

An entire industry is dedicated to getting your privacy back

By Janet Burns / AlterNet

Last spring, designer Adam Harvey hosted a session on hair and makeup techniques for attendees of the 2015 FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, England. Rather than sharing innovative ways to bring out the audience’s eyes, Harvey’s CV Dazzle Anon introduced a series of styling methods designed with almost the exact opposite aim of traditional beauty tricks: to turn your face into an anti-face—one that cameras, particularly those of the surveillance variety, will not only fail to love, but fail to recognize.

Harvey is one of a growing number of privacy-focused designers and developers “exploring new opportunities that are the result of [heightened] surveillance,” and working to establish lines of defense against it. He’s spent the past several years experimenting with strategies for putting control over people’s privacy back in their own hands, in their pockets and on their faces.

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

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

by Doug Porter 04.24.2015 Activism

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.

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Thumbnail image for The 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the Art of Hope

The 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the Art of Hope

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 04.24.2015 Activism

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

April 24, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The solemn observation marks the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million men, women, and children perpetrated under the camouflage of World War I by officials of the Ottoman Empire, which is present day Turkey. Many world leaders are going against the historical shroud of silence that has hung over these atrocities for a century.

On April 22, 2015, President Barack Obama announced he was not going to refer to the massacre as “genocide,” bowing to pressure from the present government of Turkey, one of America’s key allies in the so called “war on terror.” President Obama’s decision not to call genocide, “genocide,” throws another handful of dirt upon the United States’ self-proclaimed role as leader of the free world.

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Thumbnail image for Why We Need $50,000 Traffic Tickets

Why We Need $50,000 Traffic Tickets

by Source 04.24.2015 Courts, Justice

Let’s make sure our penalties amount to penalties for everyone

By Sam Pizzigati / OtherWords

All of us would like to live in a world where people always do the right thing — without anybody looking over their shoulder. But that world doesn’t exist and never will. So every society on our planet has penalties. You break the rules, you pay a price.

But penalties only work if the wrongdoer feels that price. A ridiculously tiny penalty amounts to no penalty at all.

Take traffic fines, for instance.

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Thumbnail image for California Vaccination Law Passes Education Committee

California Vaccination Law Passes Education Committee

by Doug Porter 04.23.2015 Columns

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. 

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Thumbnail image for Protecting Mauna Kea: Why the Mountain?

Protecting Mauna Kea: Why the Mountain?

by Will Falk 04.23.2015 Activism

By Will Falk

I am preparing to leave for Hawai’i to offer myself in support of resistance to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project that would place a large telescope and stadium-sized structure on the peak of native Hawaiians’ most sacred place – Mauna Kea.

The project, funded by a partnership including the University of California, the California Institute of Technology, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy among others, would also place a 5,000 gallon chemical waste container above the largest freshwater aquifer on Hawai’i Island.

I first heard about this struggle from the brilliant documentary film-maker Anne Keala Kelly when she spoke at the Earth at Risk conference in San Francisco organized by the Fertile Ground Environmental Institute last fall. I was beyond excited when a friend recently put me in touch with Keala explaining that the Mauna Kea protectors seek more support from the mainland.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego Willing to Bury City Rep on Meaningless Advisory Board!

Civic San Diego Willing to Bury City Rep on Meaningless Advisory Board!

by Anna Daniels 04.22.2015 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

Ex-officio City staff on New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board = CivicSD’s latest nothingburger

By Anna Daniels

The latest news about Civic San Diego has been appearing courtesy of Lyle Moran in The Daily Transcript, which unfortunately operates behind a pay wall. Moran reports on the unexpected departure of CivicSD CFO and COO Andrew Phillips, who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accept an invitation to work at the western division of Jones Lang LaSalle and CivicSD board member Cynthia Morgan, an attorney at Higgs Fletcher and Mack and new mother who wants to spend more time on her career and with her family.

If there is more to the resignations, Moran was not able or ready to share those motivations in his article. But it is worth noting that Cynthia Morgan was the Chair of the CivicSD board when it proposed a gag rule for board members in October of 2014. Joshua Emerson Smith reports in his CityBeat article “A fierce advocate for independence from the city, Morgan went on to propose that members of the board be required to recuse themselves from voting if they were lobbying City Council members or talking to City Council members on issues that are coming before our board.'”

Morgan was clearly referring to fellow CivicSD board members Mike Jenkins and Murtaza Baxamusa.

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Thumbnail image for Public Banking Advocate Ellen Brown Speaks at San Diego State

Public Banking Advocate Ellen Brown Speaks at San Diego State

by John Lawrence 04.22.2015 Economy

By John Lawrence

On Thursday April 16, there was a panel discussion at San Diego State with the title: Crisis in American Democracy: Answers Beyond the Two Party System.

There were three people on the panel representing three political parties. The Socialist Equality Party was represented by Mr. John Burton. Dr. Matt Zwolinski spoke for the Libertarians, and the Green Party was represented by Dr. Ellen Brown.

The promo said: “The content of the event will be a debate about their solutions to the problems facing American Democracy today.” The event allowed 15 minutes per person for initial discussion. After the initial discussion, the event was open for public comment and questions. Then there was time for closing statements and rebuttals from each speaker.

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Thumbnail image for How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

by Source 04.22.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

This way, employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who’d otherwise just sit around.

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Thumbnail image for Manufacturing Consent for a New Stadium in San Diego

Manufacturing Consent for a New Stadium in San Diego

by Doug Porter 04.21.2015 Business

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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Mission Valley Watch

by Frank Gormlie 04.21.2015 Activism

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

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

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

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

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Thumbnail image for Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

by John Lawrence 04.21.2015 Activism

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

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

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

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

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Thumbnail image for California Chamber of Commerce Wants to Kick Widows to the Curb

California Chamber of Commerce Wants to Kick Widows to the Curb

by Doug Porter 04.20.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s the time of year again when the the Golden State’s Chamber of Commerce issues it’s hit list of “job killer” bills being considered in Sacramento. This year there are 17 or so items on the preliminary list; more are expected to be added as the session goes on.

Included in the “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” section is AB244, introduced by  Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D- Stockton). The measure would clarify protections in the California Housing Bill of Rights, specifying that widows and other surviving family members are covered in their dealings with mortgage servicers.

Presently these homeowners can find themselves caught in a “Catch 22” if they seek a loan modification. Servicers inform them that they can’t be considered for a modification until they assume the mortgage. But, they won’t let them assume the mortgage unless they demonstrate that they can afford it. As a result, mortgage payments are missed, fees rack up, and foreclosure can be the unnecessary outcome.

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

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

by Jim Miller 04.20.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

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

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

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

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

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

by At Large 04.20.2015 Business

By Joe Flynn

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

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

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

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

by Doug Porter 04.17.2015 Business

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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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego Public Records Request Filled with Redactions and Few Revelations

Civic San Diego Public Records Request Filled with Redactions and Few Revelations

by Anna Daniels 04.17.2015 Activism

An open letter to the Civic San Diego Board of Directors about New Market Tax Credit application

By Anna Daniels

What’s going on at Civic San Diego, the non-profit entity that has become the new model for redevelopment? On April 10, a legal complaint was filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. It was made available in its entirety at the San Diego Free Press.

On April 16 the Voice of San Diego published an opinion piece “Time to Shine a Harsh Spotlight on Civic San Diego” by former City Councilmember and current open government advocate Donna Frye. Frye refers in her article to the under- reported resignations of Cynthia Morgan, Civic’s Treasurer and CFO/COO Andrew Phillips. “I’m not sure what prompted the resignations of Phillips and Morgan, but it can’t be a good sign. It will be interesting to see who the mayor appoints, and the City Council confirms, to fill the vacancy left by Morgan, and who the new CFO/COO will be and how quickly that happens.”

On April 10 I sent an email to Jeff Gattas, chairman of the board of CivicSD, detailing my own concerns about the information that I had received from a public records request.

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Thumbnail image for California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

by At Large 04.16.2015 Activism

by Dan Bacher

The mainstream media, state officials and corporate “environmental” groups have for years tried to portray California as the “green” leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state’s politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state’s environmental policies.

California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch. This is largely due to the gross mismanagement of California’s reservoirs, rivers and groundwater supplies, during a record drought, to serve the 1 percent.

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

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

by At Large 04.15.2015 Business

Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds

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

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

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Thumbnail image for On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

by Doug Porter 04.14.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The second Tuesday in April marks the observance of Equal Pay Day. This calendar date hypothetically represents the length of time past New Years’ Day many women must work at the same job in order to match what men make in a year.

The day is a symbolic means of illustrating the differences in pay existing throughout the economy based on gender, despite legislative actions aimed a rectifying the problem dating back to 1869.  The National Committee on Pay Equity offers up a variety of programs for addressing inequities tied to gender.

This pay gap is one important part of a much larger picture of discrimination and inequality rampant in the Millennial Gilded Age.

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

Civic San Diego – Like a Hole in the Head

by Norma Damashek 04.14.2015 Columns

By Norma Damashek

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John Lawrence 04.14.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

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

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

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.

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