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…]

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…]