It seemed like a nightmare in the making for residents of North Park on Saturday night. A man in a camouflage suit wandered about near the intersection of Louisiana and University Aves. firing a rifle.
I was headed down University Avenue on my way to get a pizza not long after it happened. The street was completely blocked off; there were enough flashing lights going off so that it was immediately clear this was no traffic stop or disturbing the peace call.
I live in North Park. For all of its ups and downs as a hipster neighborhood (at least that’s what Forbes calls it) it’s a pretty safe place to live. Whatever was going on here was obviously more than the delayed conclusion of a bar fight.
It didn’t take long, via Twitter, to find out the reason for the commotion: a man carrying a rifle had been shot by police.
From the UT-SD account:
The bearded gunman yelled at the witness, “Yeah you, you (expletive). I want you to call the cops first,” the witness recounted. The gunman then fired a round.
“I hit the ground … trying to crawl around the corner, trying to get around his line of sight,” said the 30-year-old witness, who did not give his name out of fear for his safety.
Another witness, Leda Foncerrada, said she was sitting on a bus bench in front of Albertson’s grocery store when she heard the first gunshot, then a second one, across the street. She ducked behind the bench, yelled at another woman to get out of the area, and ran into the supermarket to have someone call 911.
When this kind of ugliness strikes close to home it’s only natural to wonder about the underlying causes. Too many bars alcohol? Drugs? Domestic violence? Mental illness? Violence on TV? If only it were that simple.
From NBC7 / San Diego News:
One of the officers at the scene – a four-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department – drew his service weapon and shot the suspect in the torso.
The suspect was hospitalized, but was expected to survive his wounds.
A neighbor told NBC 7 San Diego the man is a disabled veteran who was known for helping others.
“We could hear him saying ‘Call the cops, call the cops,’ he wanted to die by cop. He was in a suicidal state, and I don’t want this whole thing on the news and media to not show that he’s a really good guy,” said Sabrina Moede.
Once the man was shot and on the ground, Moede heard the man telling officers that he had wanted the officers to shoot him in the head.
Moede said she has known the man for eight or nine months and heard the man tell stories of his time serving in Vietnam.
Wow. How sad.
Black Friday Protest Plans Draw Response from Wal-Mart
Sporadic protests and walkouts at Wal-Mart locations around the country last week have prompted the mega-retailer to complain to the National Labor Relations Board. A letter, sent by the company to the United Foodservice and Commercial Workers, accuses the union of provoking “disruptions” in its business, spreading “misinformation” and creating an “uncomfortable environment and undue stress on Wal-Mart’s customers.”
Wal-Mart (along with Target and Sears) is planning to open its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Employees, many of whom are expected report for work at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day are complaining about not being given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning. They point to previous experiences with trying to talk directly with management about scheduling and other problems has led to reductions in hours, harassment and even termination for those brave enough to say anything.
For years, Wal-Mart has been targeted by unions and workers complaining about low wages, scant benefits, and retaliation against those who speak out. Until now, the company has crushed attempts by employees to organize.
The current round of actions has occurred outside the normal sphere of labor-management interactions. Protesters are not asking for union representation, despite getting logistical support from the UCFW, and this has led to broader public recognition of (and a public relations nightmare about) workplace issues at the company. With 1.4 million employees, Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the U.S.
Over 1000 protests of all types are planned at Wal-Mart locations around the country this week. For information about events at stores in your area, go here.
San Diego GOP Dreams About City Council District Four
The scrambling to find candidates to run in the upcoming special election to replace City Council President Tony Young has been frenetic this week. Nobody has publicly announced interest in running, but that hasn’t stopped rumor mills around town from working overtime.
The long-shot possibility that the balance of power in the City Council could be in contention certainly has local GOPer’s looking wistfully at District 4. From righty blog SDRostra:
It’s a possibility but it’s a long shot. District 4 has long been a patronage seat where the chiefs of staff succeeded the councilmen:
They go on to quote Voice of San Diego:
In District 4, the council seat has been passed down to chiefs like a baton. Prior to being elected to the council in 1987, Wes Pratt was county supervisor Leon Williams’s chief. George Stevens beat Pratt in 1991; Stevens’s chief was Charles Lewis. Lewis was elected in 2002; his chief of staff was Tony Young. Young was elected in 2005; his chief of staff is Jimmie Slack, who was, like Pratt, a chief of staff for Supervisor Williams.
Back to SDRostra:
… the Republican Party has a great chance to make the Liberty argument to the voters of the Fourth Council District. This is not going to be an easy task, ad the communities in District 4 are deep navy. Mayor-Elect Filner earned 65-75% of the vote there…in the primary.
I think this is a chance for the Republican Party of San Diego to reach out to areas we’ve never gone before. These voters are taken for granted by the Democratic Party machine and we just haven’t made our case to them. If we can find a candidate who appeals to the voters, this special election will be the opportunity we need to do just that. Victory may be unlikely, probably highly improbable, but if we want to start finding new voters, we can’t just breeze into communities during elections. We have start our outreach as soon as possible. Young’s resignation gives us that reason to get moving.
Quit Crying Over Your Damn Twinkies; Hostess Brands Employees Got ‘Bained’
Today we’re seeing mass media stories (I refuse to link to this crap) about consumers flooding into outlet stores around the country buying up all the last of these sugar/fat bombs. Why there’s even mention of Twinkies being auctioned on EBay…. of Ho Ho’s collectables.
This disappearance of these brands from store shelves is –attention Ding Dong collectors – a temporary phenomena. Those ‘treats’ will be back on store shelves sooner than you think. Bloomberg news is already reporting about investors (including Dean Metropolous owner of totally unionized Pabst Brewing) interested in buying the rights to the brands involved here. No doubt some of the plants and much of the distribution network will also get snapped up shortly.
What is outrageous here is the degree to which so-called responsible news organizations bought into the meme that a strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union is responsible for its demise.
The closure of the 565 distribution centers, 33 bakeries and 570 bakery outlets owned by Hostess is a real world example the downside of what can happen to companies after they get passed around to Bain-style investment operations that don’t know or care about the actual business at hand.
Employees at Hostess watched 6 CEO’s come and go since 2002. By any measure all of them left the company worse than when they took over. All of them got paid, not just the salaries they agreed to, but bonuses and increases all along the way.
These executives talked of investments in new equipment, new research and new delivery trucks that would have made the company competitive, but those improvements never materialized as Hostess went further and further into debt.
In 2011, Hostess had sales of more than $2.5 billion but ended the year with a loss of $341 million as it struggled to pay the interest on $1 billion in debt. This debt wasn’t about poor sales or selling products for no profit or about paying employees or about the cost of benefits– it was about paying off loans that previous operators took with them rather than invest in the company.
This year the company sought bankruptcy protection for the second time in eight years.
Still, the CEO who brought on the latest bankruptcy got a raise (from approximately $750,000 to $2,550,000) while Hostess demanded that its workers accept a 30 percent pay and benefits cut.
At least nine other top executives of the company received massive pay raises in the weeks immediately before this latest bankruptcy filing. One executive received a pay increase from $500,000 to $900,000 and another received one taking his salary from $375,000 to $656,256.
An employee working for Hostess in 2005 before the first round of bankruptcy concessions who made $48,000 annually saw his/her pay drop to $34,000 in 2011 prior to the most recent contract offer.
In July of 2011 employees received a letter from the company saying that the $3+ per hour they contributed to the pension was going to be ‘borrowed’ by the company until they could be profitable again. Then they would pay it all back. The Union was notified of this the same time and method as the individual members.
The company’s latest filing for bankruptcy has already led to a court ruling that the $3+ per hour was a debt the company couldn’t repay. The union continued to work despite the theft of their self-funded pension contributions for over a year.
Here’s the company’s final offer that 92% of those union meanies refused:
1) An 8% hourly pay cut in year 1 with additional cuts totaling 27% over 5 years.
2) The company got to keep monies previous borrowed from employee contributions to the pension fund (equal to about $3+ an hour) forever.
3) Weekly insurance premiums would be doubled and a program of much lesser quality would be instituted.
4) The company wanted total withdrawal from ALL pensions.
So that employee who made $48,000 in 2005 would end up with $25,000 in five years, irrespective of seniority or position. Getting rid any obligations to the 18,500 people who worked at the company makes selling of the equity in the brand names and infrastructure a profit-making deal for the latest bunch who took over the company.
I call that getting ‘Bained’.
Where did the money go?
On This Day: In 1863 President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address as he dedicated a national cemetery at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania. In 1998 the impeachment inquiry of President Clinton began. In 1993 Nirvana recorded an MTV unplugged concert in New York.
On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 1pm –Sunset
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.