Congressman Issa Weasels on IRS Transcripts After His Case Falls Apart

By Doug Porter

Facing an increasingly skeptical press after being called out for using selectively edited interview transcripts to make his case against the IRS, Congressman Darrell Issa has decided to double down.

Issa, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee now says releasing the full transcripts would be “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Two weekends ago the North County Congressman provided CNN with excerpts of interviews with IRS agents, assuring reporter Candy Crowley that “the whole transcript will be put out.” Issa’s excerpts supposedly had an IRS official conceding that “directions” for to treat Tea Party groups “emanated from Washington.”   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – North County SPRINTER Transit Troubles Stem from Lack of Outsourcing Oversight

The SPRINTER transit line serving commuters between Escondido and Oceanside has suspended service for at least two months, effective last Friday, due to problems with the braking systems. Accelerated wear patterns on brake rotors were discovered during an inspection last week by officials with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Nearly eight thousand users of the North County rail system will be re-routed to express bus services until repairs can be made. (UPDATED) The North County Transit District outsourced many services with this system, starting from day one in 2008. A restructuring in 2010 moved bus operations to private contractors.

Maintenance and operations of SPRINTER vehicles was handed over to Veolia Transportation, which sub-contracted the work out to Bombardier Transportation. A spokesman for the Transit District told KPBS the companies under contract failed to report the issue of the non-compliant brake rotors to North County staff.

A recent KPBS report by i-newsource raised questions about the oversight of outsourced contracts at the agency for security. Now it would appear that maintenance contracts also need to be reviewed for oversight considerations.   [Read more…]

Public Hearing Today on Gregory Canyon Landfill in Escondido

A public hearing is being held today – Thursday, Jan. 31 – at 6pm on the Gregory Canyon Landfill, and it will be at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

The site proposed Gregory Canyon Landfill would negatively impact a sacred site of the Luiseño tribes of Pala Indians. San Diego County’s environmental impact report for the landfill admits that these impacts cannot be fixed. The proposed landfill site is also on a natural aquifer and near the San Luis Rey River, both important sources of drinking water for North County.

Landfills are an outdated way of handling waste. With higher recycling rates than ever and improved waste reduction strategies, the county does not need another place to bury its trash.

The hearing is at the California Center for the Arts, at 340 North Escondido Blvd. in Escondido.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – San Diego Zoo Expansion Plan: Make 61% of Balboa Park’s Parking Paid

Now that (it appears) plans for construction of a paid parking garage adjacent to the Plaza de Panama are moving forward, the San Diego Zoo has dusted off an eight year old project involving construction of a fee based 4800 space underground garage and will eliminating the free 2500 space surface lot currently in use.

The announcement for the latest proposal came via a very carefully controlled roll out with members of the Balboa Park conservancy and the UT-San Diego editorial board being given a ‘first look’ at the revived plan. Today’s newspaper features a front page article putting a positive spin on the Zoo’s parking scheme, stressing an alleged paucity of parking in Balboa Park. It will be very interesting to see if any opposition develops.

INSIDE: Fletcher Blesses Prop Z, Undecided Voters Who Have Already Voted, Adios NC Times, Munger Pulls Negative Ads

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The Starting Line — It’s taps for the ‘Losers’ at North County Times after UT-SD’s Manchester takes over paper

The Big Story on the local news scene was The Local News Scene yesterday as word oozed out during the morning that UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester had purchased the North County Times newspaper. Rumors about the sale reached a crescendo on Monday, as the San Diego Business Journal ran with an article about the sale and stood behind their story, even as UT-SD CEO John Lynch issued a statement saying that no deal had been reached.

The purchase price for the NCTimes was reported to be just short of $12 million. That outlay bought print-media dominance for UT-San Diego in the northern tier of San Diego County, much of which is made of up of affluent sub-divisions with desirable demographics for advertisers. Employees at the paper were invited to re-apply for their jobs starting Monday, even though actual transfer of ownership will not occur until October 1st.

The “Dougchester” assured everybody at a company gathering yesterday afternoon that the new ownership would be keeping the “winners”, even as he bragged about Mission Valley’s newest foray into video, waving a smart-phone showing UT-TV around in front of 150 grim faced employees. Actual operation details coming out of the merger have yet to be decided including whether or not the newspaper will continue to be published as a separate entity.

One thing that the UT-SD publisher was unequivocal about was that the editorial polices of the NCTimes would be reflecting his philosophy, which of late has consisted of increasingly desperate attacks on anything not Republican.
  [Read more…]

The Starting Line — Veterans Group to Start Weekly Vigil on Domestic Predator Drone Use Outside General Atomics Poway Location

Say ‘no’ to Predators overhead… Tomorrow, Thursday, August 16th, San Diego Veterans for Peace will begin a weekly vigil at the General Atomics plant in Poway, where the Predator Drone is built. The goal of this series of demonstrations is to get people thinking about the threat drones present to American liberties.  Congress has passed legislation mandating that the Federal Aviation Administration create a comprehensive program for the integration of drone technology into the national air space by 2015. The agency is predicting that there will be 30,000 drones crisscrossing the skies of America by 2020.

San Diego Veterans for Peace is concerned that the melding of law enforcement with Homeland Security is producing the basis for a big brother state. Certainly there has been little to no public discourse about the implications of the ability of local law enforcement agencies sending drones to look in our back yards or bedroom windows, streaming the video to people unknown, without our permission. What could be a powerful tool for crime fighting could easily become an easily abused loophole that negates the Fourth Amendment. Sadly, the track record of law enforcement agencies utilizing technologies developed for combat use in domestic situations is very poor.   [Read more…]