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…]

Looking Backward, Moving Forward: The San Diego Free Press Turns Three!

Nigel Howe
Creative Commons

On June 4, 2012 the San Diego Free Press made its very first foray into the provision of grassroots news and progressive views. We launched as an all volunteer effort to promote citizen journalism and have continued to operate on a volunteer basis since. Have you noticed that the site is ad free? We decided early on to reject sponsored content.

These defining characteristics make us unique as an alternative media platform.   [Read more…]

Making Mountains Out of Molehills at KPBS/inewsource

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I have yet to be convinced that San Diego’s hoteliers and their doppelgangers in the management of America’s Finest Tourism Plantation have the best interests of the citizenry at heart.

For just about a year or so, the non-profit inewsource has been investigating San Diego attorney Cory Briggs. This week their latest report claims the organizations serving as plaintiffs in the environmental lawyer’s many lawsuits “flout state, federal laws.”

These inewsource stories are given much play at KPBS and follow a now predictable format: seeming contradictions, omissions and/or errors found in documents associated with Briggs are presented to various persons with impressive sounding titles and deemed to be something just short, maybe, of something illegal.   [Read more…]

Small-s Socialist Bernie Sanders Runs for President

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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…]

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

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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…]

Chargers Stadium Deal May Be Dead on Arrival

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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…]

Letter to Loretto

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The only person convicted for CIA torture–the man who exposed it–discusses his incarceration and release. Going to jail was just the start….

In February, after serving two years in a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, Kiriakou was permitted to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at his home in Northern Virginia. Under the terms of his release from prison, he was required to check in daily at a local halfway house in Washington, DC until May 1 of this year. He’s now on federal probation.

Kiriakou documented his experiences in prison in a series of hand-written “Letters from Loretto” published at FireDogLake. In this, his final entry in the series, he recounts the depredations of house arrest and announces his associate fellowship at the Institute for Policy Studies.   [Read more…]

GOP Vultures Circle North County

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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…]

UT San Diego Sale: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

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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…]

SOLD! Manchester Bails on UT-San Diego

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By Doug Porter

Early Thursday afternoon media reporter Ken Doctor at Newsonomics broke the news, saying Papa Doug Manchester was about to sell San Diego’s daily newspaper to the corporate owners of the Los Angeles Times.

Southern California, poking northward into Santa Barbara and stretching southward to the Mexican border, will soon become Tribune Territory.

In a deal intended to be soon announced, Tribune Publishing will buy UT San Diego (the former San Diego Union Tribune) for about $80 million — and the assumption of growing pension obligations, recently upped to more than $100 million, I’ve learned through several confidential sources.   [Read more…]

It’s the Neoliberalism, Stupid

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You can’t decry the social problems of Baltimore while politically promoting the very kind of trade policy that helped cause them…

Last week when the Baltimore Orioles played a game without fans in Camden Yard, there was much media coverage marking how the surreal event was unprecedented in American sports.

Perhaps, but it was not completely without precedent globally as the 1987 soccer match played to an empty stadium in Madrid, Spain came before it.

On the occasion of that strange contest, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard observed that “thousands of fans besieged the stadium but no one got in” and that this punishment of unruly soccer fans did much to “exemplify the terroristic hyperrealism of our world, a world where the ‘real’ event occurs in a vacuum, stripped of its context, visible only from afar, televisually.”   [Read more…]

Open During Construction

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Please, step around the debris as we remodel the place.

Google tells us we need to be more responsive to our mobile customers so we are adding the drive-thru window. I have been sitting in my desk chair 18 of the last 30 hours. Thanks, Frank, for feeding me and making me get out into the sun.   [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…]

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…]

Right-wing Media Exploits Unrest in Baltimore to Push ‘Race War’ Narrative

By Adam Johnson / Alternet

When Breitbart’s Matt Boyle isn’t framing xenophobia as “pro-worker” or rambling on about a big gay hate machine (don’t ask), he’s attending baseball games with his family. A harmless enough act, and one I’m glad to see rightwing demagogues and communists alike can agree is a wonderful way to spend a spring evening.

While attending last night’s Orioles game, however, things quickly got out of hand for the Breitbart journo when unrest resulting from the apparent police killing of Freddie Gray boiled over into property damage and “clashes” between police and angry citizens outside of Camden Yards baseball stadium.

Boyle’s piece begins with the type of breathless hysteria one would expect from Breitbart: “War Zone: Baltimore Erupts Into Violence, Chaos as #BlackLivesMatter Riots Rage.”   [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…]

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.

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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…]

Mission Valley Watch

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.   [Read more…]