KPBS Bars Affordable Housing Advocate from Midday Edition Panel

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By Doug Porter
UPDATED 8/26 With response from KPBS…

The spat between KPBS/inewsource and attorney Cory Briggs reached a new low this week when an invitation to retired civil rights leader and affordable housing advocate Rev. Richard Lawrence to participate on the Midday Edition program was abruptly withdrawn.

Lawrence, whose list of honors includes the San Diego Housing Federation’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” and  a San Diego City Council declaration making November 10, 2013 “Richard Lawrence Day,” was supposed to be participating in an August 17th panel on San Diego’s declaration of an affordable housing state of emergency.

The reasoning behind his “dis-invitation” was that Lawrence sits on the board of San Diegans for Open Government and vigorously defended attorney Cory Briggs in the wake of allegations of misconduct made by KPBS/inewsource.   [Read more…]

The Hillary Question: Two Telling Tales

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By Doug Porter

Six months ago, most Democrats believed the upcoming presidential primary season would be little more than a warm-up for the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the party’s choice to face off against the GOP’s nominee.

A feisty Vermonter with wiry hair has upset the Democratic applecart. Today’s column will start off with two tales of Hillary, told with the hope of providing insight into the nature of her as a candidate. (Those hoping for a bashing session will have to wait for another day.)

I, for one, thought the early campaign months would be focused on the circular firing squad that has come to represent the Republican contest for the nomination. Fortunately, my stockpile of popcorn won’t go to waste.   [Read more…]

Freeps in the News: Jim Bliesner, Barbara Zaragoza, Jeeni Criscenzo

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By Anna Daniels

San Diego Free Press contributors are a diverse and talented group of individuals. It will be a busy weekend for three of them with the unveiling of Jim Bliesner‘s sculpture Cultural Fusion, Casa Familiar’s Abrazo Award for Barbara Zaragoza and An Evening of Provocative Poetry with Jeeni Criscenzo. These events follow upon last week’s screening of SDFP video- journalist Horacio Jones‘ short film “Wingin’ It” at the 48 Hour Film Project in San Diego.   [Read more…]

San Diego Free Press Celebrates!

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By Anna Daniels

The San Diego Free Press celebrated its third birthday on August 8 with a Galastravaganzaversary party at Border X Brewing. Wow–three years! It has been an astoundingly active year for this unique all volunteer operated San Diego media presence. Contributors and editors have provided another year of progressive views with a distinctly grassroots perspective on the topics of labor, the environment, immigration, criminal justice, politics and government.

Our approach–multi-media and multi-genre– reflects the talents and interests of our contributors. Video essays, personal narratives, cartoons and poetry are essential to the way that we present the people’s history. We take risks in terms of both the content provided and the format. The creative juices continue to flow; the vision of where we are headed is becoming more clearly delineated. Time for craft beer and a slice of galastravaganza cake!   [Read more…]

Dump the Trump? GOP Freaking Out as Their Frankenstein Runs Amok

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By Doug Porter

By now ‘everybody knows’ that billionaire blowhard Donald John Trump is out of control.

“He’s tapped into citizen anger” is Republi-speak for “we never thought all our lies would come back to bite us in the ass,” and “please spare us your wrath.”

Others in the party are seeking to portray The Donald as aberrant, only to draw angry responses from the man and his minions.  When everyday misogynist Erick Erickson dis-invited Trump from a conservative conference, the blowback was so bad he moved his family to another hotel, fearing for their safety.

So here’s the deal: if Donald Trump had made the same comments about MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the Fox News crew and the other GOP candidates would have said ‘no big deal.’ They’d still be snickering in the green room.   [Read more…]

Fox News Debate: American Idol for Republicans

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By Doug Porter

Television entertainment doesn’t get any better than it was Thursday, August 7th; not bad for a day when entertainment stocks cratered over uncertainty about the future of the medium.

Fox news ran with two shows starring Those Republicans Who Would Be President. I watched the later Big Kids showdown. It was well crafted by Fox, packaged as  American Idol for (mostly Republican) voters.

Also, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart left the room, departing to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and a homily about the perils of bovine excrement.   [Read more…]

48 Hour Film Project to Include SDFP Video-Journo Horacio Jones’ ‘Wingin’ It’

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By Staff

San Diego Free Press contributor Horacio Jones, who recently garnered an award from the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, has produced a short film with co- director Fabrice Murgia for the 48 Hour Film Project San Diego. Titled Wingin’ It, the work is the story of a rebellious angel who must be coached on how to take souls to the after-life.

The 48 Hour Film Project is a worldwide film competition in which local teams have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a 4-7 minute short film. A little over 100 teams signed up to compete. To keep the process honest, contestants randomly picked a genre one Friday night at 7pm. They were also provided a prop, line, and character to use in their film.   [Read more…]

As California Expands Eligibility, the Voting Rights Act Becomes a Proxy War

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By Doug Porter

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla did the right thing on Tuesday, withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated championed by his predecessor.

On Thursday, the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, President Obama along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), will call for upon Congress for restoration of provisions struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Twenty one Republican-controlled states have enacted laws making it more difficult to register or vote since the 2010 election.

These three examples are all aspects of the same phenomena: the act of voting is a proxy war for issues of class and race facing our society.   [Read more…]

Electile Dysfunction: GOP Candidates Prepare for ‘Happy Hour’ Debate

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By Doug Porter

Heading into the dog days of August, this should be the dullest of the dull period of the election cycle. But it’s not.

Seventeen candidates have formally declared an interest in seeking the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential contest. Roger Ailes, the high priest of Fox news, has called for an early debate, limited to the ten top job seekers capable of making the most noise.

Getting into this debate has been all about who can say the most outrageous thing. Today, I’ll share some of that outrage with readers.   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future

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By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

SDFP Claims Eight Journo Awards for 2015

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By Staff

The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) held its annual award banquet on Wednesday July 29 at the Bali Hai Restaurant. The evening began with the acknowledgement of some of the changes that have occurred on the media scene this past year. The observation that the words “Papa Doug” have been uncoupled from references to the Union Tribune was accompanied with applause– and laughter.

SPJ President Matt Hall noted that the Voice of San Diego has turned ten and that the San Diego Free Press celebrated its third anniversary. But the changes noted weren’t solely about staying power. The San Diego Daily Transcript which began publishing in 1885 is closing its doors after a hundred and thirty year run.

Journalism and the media platforms which provide it continue to be at an existential crossroads that tests their relevancy, independence and solvency.   [Read more…]

Lies & More Lies: Planned Parenthood as the New ACORN

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By Doug Porter

The Republicans appear to have settled on their wedge issue for 2016. You know, the thing that drives fear and/or disgust in a certain class of voters so they’ll ignore all those pesky economic policies they’re likely to get screwed by.

In 2008 a loosely organized entity named ACORN fit the bill. Manufactured imagery of  brown people doing something wrong was perfect for an election where the leading candidate was a person of color. Most people still don’t realize the charges brought against the community organizing group turned out to have been false.

The Donald has been busy co-opting the GOP’s immigration issues and Gays have kicking ass in the courts (both legal and popular opinion). Black people have been fighting back lately and there just aren’t enough Muslims to go around. And besides, the lone wolf mostly male libertarians constituting the party’s future are scared to death of female empowerment.   [Read more…]

Average Motorist’s Annual Cost for San Diego’s Crappy Roads: $843

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By Doug Porter

I can just hear the boosterism now: “We’re better than San Jose, Ole!”

Fifty one per cent of San Diego’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, according to a study released by TRIP, a national transportation research group.  The region has the eighth-highest rate of lousy roads nationally among large urban areas with more than a half million residents.

California cities dominated the study, taking 5 of the bottom 10 rankings. Coming in at number 5 was San Jose, with Concord, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland topping the list.   [Read more…]

ALEC Gets a Raucous Reception in San Diego

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This is California. We fight for workers’ rights. We fight for affordable healthcare”  
-Labor Leader Mickey Kasparian

By Doug Porter

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2015 annual meeting in San Diego drew more protesters than it did delegates. And (for few moments, anyway) the issue of what ALEC actually does to took precedence over the appearances of GOP aspirants to the presidency.

A united front of labor and activist organizations staged a rally in the Embarcadero Park North, located behind the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, where legislators and lobbyists were gathered.

Buses came from Los Angeles. Things were well organized. There was plenty of food and water to be had. There was also plenty of intense sunshine, symbolizing in a way, the purpose of the protest: to make the public aware that ALEC is not the virtuous organization it claims to be.

Today we’ll take a look around at some coverage of the protest. And there are plenty of pictures….   [Read more…]

Confronting ALEC’s ‘Everybody Does It’ Defense

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By Doug Porter

Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz. How can you lose?

If the spinmeisters at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hoped media coverage would focus on the three GOP presidential candidates genuflecting before their annual gathering of corporate lobbyists and state legislators this week in San Diego, they may be proved wrong.

A barrage of press releases and public statements from a wide spectrum of public interest organizations combined with the growing certainty that San Diegans would actually show up in large numbers to protest the closed-door right wing strategy meeting has begun to shift coverage away from the celebrity angle to questions about just what might be going on inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel.

Although there will always be plenty of stenographers willing to be dazzled by celebrity, a slow but steady drumbeat of dissent aimed at ALEC’s real agenda has forced that group’s defenders to go to Plan B, also known as ‘everybody does it’.   [Read more…]

Anti-LGBT Strategies a Big Part of Skyline Church’s ‘Future Conference’

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By Doug Porter

Media Matters for America has posted an insiders account of presentations by the country’s most prominent anti-LGBT activists during a recent conference at San Diego’s Skyline Church.

Organized by Skyline Pastor Jim Garlow, the 2015 Future Conference was called in response to “the thorniest and most challenging issues in the current cultural landscape.”

While the four day gathering featured presentations covering a range of issues, the alleged rise of Christian persecution stemming from the growing acceptance of LGBT people was the unifying theme.   [Read more…]

Tin Foil Hats Disappear from Amazon.com as Jade Helm Exercise Begins

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By Doug Porter

Desperate citizens in Texas, Utah and California are taking to social media this morning to alert their fellow patriots about a shocking lack of Tin Foil headgear…

Welcome to July 15th, the day when right wing conspiracy theorists have been predicting  a military take-over cleverly disguised as the Jade Helm 15 training exercise.

Given that the conspiracy theorists will no doubt claim their warnings have averted Armageddon when things don’t happen, let’s take a quick look at what we’ve been saved from.   [Read more…]

Frack Yeah! Checking Out the New Union-Tribune

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By Doug Porter

Six weeks ago the publisher of the Los Angeles Times closed the deal on buying U-T San Diego for $85 million. It’s time for a quick progress report on the state of San Diego’s daily newspaper.

Now it’s been re-christened as the Union-Tribune, the printing was outsourced and about a third of the staff is gone. The paper’s web site has been spiffed up and actual reporting not influenced by the owner’s agenda appears to be taking place.

Most of all, what I perceived as the aura of shame is gone. Outbursts of pride in the product have been observed recently. For better or worse, they’re being the best newspaper they know how. Those who thought the newspaper would somehow be transformed into either Daily Worker or Breitbart News Network will continue to be disappointed. This is still San Diego and the sale of one media outlet will not change the political and economic realities of this city.   [Read more…]

Fun, Fear and Fireworks on the Fourth of July

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By Doug Porter

America’s most patriotic holiday is a complicated event. What was once a day set aside for pontificating, picnics and patriotism is too often filled with fear, loathing and enough fireworks to scare the cilia off paramecium six states away.

By ignoring the merchants of faux patriotism–an admirable, if difficult goal–many Americans do manage to make the day special. So let’s take a look around at what is and is not happening on the Fourth of July, 2015.

In San Diego County there are (at least) seventeen fireworks shows, eight parades, eight concerts, one flotilla and assorted performances. And that’s not counting the ad hoc displays of patriotic bang-bangs and boom-booms. Listings for events can be found at KPBS, the Times of San Diego, and the Union-Tribune.   [Read more…]

Murrieta, the Town Without Pity, Remembered One Year Later

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By Doug Porter

Latino and Human Rights activists are returning to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate the anniversary of a historic confrontation that laid bare the racism in Southern California for the world to see.

It was one year ago self-styled patriots, acting on rumors and innuendo, blockaded busloads of refugee women and children from Central America on their way to a Border Patrol processing center. The angry anti-immigrant protesters, seen on TV news across the country chanting of “Go home!’ and “We don’t want you!,” were tacitly encouraged by local authorities. (It was the local police who actually stopped the buses)   [Read more…]

Taking Down the Confederate Flag Isn’t a Cure for Racism

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By Doug Porter

The not-the-flag of the Confederate States of America has become an issue, following the murders of nine people during Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston.

Americans, we’re told, are reassessing the modern-day value and meaning of Confederate symbols. Retailers are discontinuing the sale of items with the rebel flag and legislatures are debating its display. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is calling for San Diego Unified’s Robert E. Lee elementary school to be renamed.

Sadly, displaying (or not) this flag and/or the symbols of the Confederacy fails to address much larger problems, including issues related to the act of a terrorist motivated by white supremacist ideology. Today we’ll look around at coverage of this phenomenon.   [Read more…]

All Aboard! Get Ready for the Great White Line Skyway

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By Doug Porter

On Friday we learned about a proposal moving forward to add a two-mile long aerial tram from Balboa Park to the Bay. County Supervisor Ron Roberts, apparently suffering from a legacy complex, found $75,000 in spare change under the seat cushions around his office to fund a “let’s do this!” study by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff.

To nobody’s surprise, the San Diego Association of Governments’ transportation committee loved the idea, directing its staff to start the process of making the “Skyway” operational in five years or so.

Since San Diego’s light rail system has color coded routes, it only makes sense to stick with this scheme. So let’s call this newest leg the “White Line.” Because that’s who it will be serving: white people and assorted tourists looking for a cheap thrill.   [Read more…]

A Blow to the Contract Labor Economy: California Says Uber Drivers Are Employees

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By Doug Porter

A claim filed by a San Francisco woman against the ride-hailing service Uber has led to a determination by the California Labor Commission that drivers for the company are employees rather than independent contractors.

The decision could be a major blow to what economists are calling the “1099 economy,” a business model wherein companies rely on armies of low-cost independent contractors, setting the terms and conditions for employment without having to absorb costs like social security, health care and workman’s compensation.

The California Labor Commissioner said they’d determined Uber to be “involved in every aspect of the operation,” meaning that it’s more than just an app handling logistics. The driver who filed the complaint was awarded $4,000 in expenses.   [Read more…]

How California Drivers Get Screwed at the Pump

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By Doug Porter

Corporate greed on the part of fossil fuel companies in the era of trickle down apparently knows no bounds. If you live in California you’ve undoubtedly heard the stories about why we pay more for gasoline at the pump than elsewhere: our eco-conscious gas blend, higher taxes, yada, yada.

Research from Consumer Watchdog shows just how much these claims are exaggerated. Californians are paying more for gasoline because we’re being gouged, plain and simple.

The group points to abnormally large profits in the first quarter of 2015, with Valero, one of the state’s largest refiners, reporting $82 million in West Coast profits, compared to a $25 million per quarter average.   [Read more…]

San Diego’s Sour Mash of Politics

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By Doug Porter

So much stupidity, so little time.  Here’s what’s clogged up my inbox while I was on vacation:

San Diego’s Board of Supervisors will consider regulating free speech, a third person has come forward to complain about Dave Roberts, and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed actually thinks he can run a campaign for the third district seat stressing integrity. (Cue audience laughter)

SeaWorld supporters have slithered into the red baiting realm, the Chargers continue to play the mayor like a finely tuned violin and a local non-profit news outfit is apparently flouting the same state law it has accused attorney Cory Briggs of violating.   [Read more…]