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…]

A Disastrous Oil Pipeline Break in Santa Barbara

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While clean up crews in protective suits are removing oil from a nine mile stretch of coastline in Santa Barbara County, investigators are assessing the impact and causes of a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline. The company failed to shut down the flow of oil for more than three hours after local beach-goers reported the leak, according to a spokesperson with the National Resources Defense Council.

Current estimates say 105,000 gallons may have leaked out, with 21,000 gallons reaching the sea. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County. Federal, state and local officials are looking at both civil liabilities and criminal infractions.   [Read more…]

Reactions to the Chargers Stadium Deal

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Little green men from Mars could have seized city hall yesterday and I doubt anybody would have noticed.

The Mayor’s stadium advisory group presented its vision for building a facility worthy of consideration by the National Football League and its San Diego Chargers franchise. And that was the talk of the town.

However, there was other news… …and I’ll get to that first.   [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…]

Gloria Works to Get the Bugs Out of San Diego’s Referendum Process

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As the San Diego City Council contemplates whether or not to put the future of the One Paseo development on the ballot, City Councilman Todd Gloria is seeking to reform the referendum petition process that brought them to this point.

The current dilemma over the mixed use development proposal in Carmel Valley represents the fifth time council actions have been blocked by referendum petition drives over the past eighteen months.

None of the changes proposed by Gloria at this time require affirmation by voters, but they do require councilmembers to take actions that will make the local political consultant types unhappy. First and foremost among that “low hanging fruit” would be a requirement that petitions include information about who’s paying for the effort.   [Read more…]

Dark Clouds on San Diego’s Horizon

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Developments over the past few days bode poorly for San Diego’s image and civic pride.

One of the main tourist attractions, the football team, the successor to the downtown development agency and the home for Comic Con are all in turmoil.

Controversies have arisen concerning the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s department is being investigated for civil rights violations arising out of  the arrest of a mentally handicapped man.

So many stories, so little time to tell them all…   [Read more…]

The Community vs Cops Conundrum

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Today’s column includes coverage of proposed legislation in the wake of increasing concerns about police practices, another look at an SDPD officer-involved shooting, examples of the race/class divisions in prosecutions, some baseball news, and dispatches from the climate change denier front….

Multiple controversies about the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies are prompting calls for reform.

Since the first of the year, 396 people have been killed by police in the United States. The officer involved fatalities include two would-be terrorists who attacked a right wing “draw a picture of Mohammad” contest in Texas over the weekend.

By way of contrast, there have been 38 line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers in 2015.   [Read more…]

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.”   [Read more…]

“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

  [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.    [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.)    [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.”   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]

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.   [Read more…]