By Doug Porter
Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor made good yesterday on his earlier suggestions that the City of San Diego’s case for renovating the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park wouldn’t pass a legal challenge.
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith appeared in court for oral arguments last Friday, arguing that the City was free to reject protections offered by the area’s historic status because of the additional benefits construction of a by-pass and parking lot would provide.
Taylor’s 15 page ruling rejected that argument saying, “Respectfully, this strikes the court as re-writing the Municipal Code. The City Council did not enact language permitting alteration if it determined that the proposed alteration would result in a more reasonable beneficial use; rather, it required that there be no reasonable beneficial use absent the alteration.”
Proponents of the Balboa Park remake hoped to complete the project in time for the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition, marking the birth of what is now Balboa Park, in 2015. Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs proposed the plan and promised significant financial backing.
UPDATE: Via KPBS MidDay Report- “I’ve told the committee that the project is over,” Jacobs says. They’re not taking part in additional plans, activities.
The opposition was headed by the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), who claimed the project’s alterations would cause irreparable harm to the historic park.
SOHO executive director Bruce Coons was pleased with the ruling, saying “It would have paved the way for what many San Diegans believe would have led to commercialization, privatization, and new construction throughout the park, severely curtailing public access and destroying forever the experience of this singular place.”
The question now is ‘What happens next?’ The City has not indicated whether or not it will appeal the ruling. An appeal would most likely set the construction schedule back beyond planned festivities for the Centennial.
Mayor Filner promised last week to bring the opposing sides together for mediation talks after the ruling was issued. He said he believed the City can accomplish the basic goal with six traffic cones. I have a feeling the pro-renovation crowd won’t be too enamored of that plan.
The Balboa Park ruling also raises questions for the annual Earth Day, scheduled for April, which has been fighting the city government over permits. The organizers of that event were recently told that the city would only consider issuing permits for the west side of Balboa Park, a move opposed by festival organizers and area neighborhood associations.
Also affected by the ruling will be the annual December Nights festivities, who were also told by the city that relocation would be necessary during the renovations.
Internet News of the Future: Faster, Smarter and Still Hewing to the Lowest Common Denominator
Today I’m going to weave together three stories; one about a proposal that could fundamentally change our technological relationship with the web, one journalism success story and one train wreck in progress.
The Washington Post ran a story over the weekend about a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission that would create free super fast nationwide WiFi networks. They’re not talking about wimpy WiFi that fails to reach your bedroom when the moon is in Pisces.
The underlying logic behind this idea is that allowing the public unfettered access to “our” airwaves would act as a technological and economic stimulus. Needless to say, AT&T and your cable company aren’t thrilled by this idea. From the Post:
The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor.
The airwaves that FCC officials want to hand over to the public would be much more powerful than existing WiFi networks that have become common in households. They could penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees. If all goes as planned, free access to the Web would be available in just about every metropolitan area and in many rural areas.
The new WiFi networks would also have much farther reach, allowing for a driverless car to communicate with another vehicle a mile away or a patient’s heart monitor to connect to a hospital on the other side of town.
Companies like Qualcomm, Cisco and Intel have joined with the traditional service providers in opposing this idea, saying that more testing needs to be done before such a system would be operative.
I have no doubt that MicroSoft and Google, the frienemies that have joined forces to back this idea, have more in mind than simply helping the public. Google’s “Silicon Prairie” project, whereby they’re setting up neighborhoods in Kansas City (not for free), with superfast broadband internet is already attracting startups.
I say you can’t turn back the clock. For the time being, at least, I’d keep my ISP for the extra features it offers that a public system probably won’t. But the next rounds of technological innovation will demand a more robust and faster connection and I don’t see the private sector jumping up and saying they’ll do it. I’m still waiting for the jetpack that was promised (fifty years ago!) as part of the future in the Jetsons.
‘The Dish’ Moves Away from the MSM Teat
Blogger Andrew Sullivan has long lead the pack, providing a daily internet mixtape of news and opinion that was smart, savvy and humane. Dropping by his address always gives me an overview of the punditry of the moment, a chance to learn something new and an antenna aimed above the mundane and the profane. I frequently disagree with him, but his willingness to explore his opinions and feelings keeps me coming back.
After successive “homes” with Time, the Atlantic and the Newsweek/Daily Beast organizations, Sullivan has moved The Dish away from the hubris (and financial safety) of the Mainstream Media. As of this week The Dish is reader supported, using a “meter” that gives casual and incoming link visitors access. Of all the things that I read on the interwebs (and many are very worthy!), this is one that I had to send a few bucks.
A half-million dollars worth of support has rolled in since the announcement was made at the top of the year. The moral of the story, for now, is that good writing and sharp thinking can gain financial support. I’ll be watching (and rooting for) Sullivan.
The Sideboob Gazette
In less than a decade the Huffington Post has gone from liberal news-wonkery to a knuckle dragging, spam eating twenty-first century version of the Weekly World News. Wardrobe failures, misleading headlines and videos with titles like ‘What I Learned from Cheating on My Husband’ are only occasionally interrupted by investigative reporting and political analysis.
Here’s some of yesterday’s ‘news headlines’ at Huffpo, followed by what the story actually said:
GROSS: Horsemeat Found In 75 Percent Of ‘Beef’
Up To 75 Percent Of Polish ‘Beef’ Imported To One Company in Ireland
Church Of Scientology Super Bowl Ad Raises Eyebrows (VIDEO)
Down in the story we find a quote from Business Insider… In fact, Scientology did not have an ad in “the” Super Bowl. Rather, it bought local TV advertising in several major spot markets — such as New York and Los Angeles — during breaks saved for regional advertisers and local channel advertising.
Joe Flacco F-Bomb: Ravens QB Curses After Winning Super Bowl XLVII (VIDEO)
Yup he said it. On CBS: “F***ing awesome!”
Teachers Association Weighs in on CFO Story
Voice of San Diego’s interview with SDUSD CFO Stanley Dobbs is continuing to draw fire. His (largely inaccurate) comments about teacher salaries, benefits and the district’s relationship with the teacher’s union have stoked a lot of commentary. I thought it would be only fair to print the actual San Diego Education Association (teacher’s union) response, since it’s likely to get lost in the shuffle:
New SDUSD CFO, Stanley Dobbs, claims that the average SDUSD teacher earns $92,000 in salary plus an additional $20,000 in benefits.
Though San Diego Unified teachers deserve an average salary of $92,000, this claim is FALSE. The reality is that Dobbs’ bad math is roughly 18 percent above the top of the pay scale for teachers in this District, and that San Diego Unified teachers have consistently been among the lowest paid in San Diego County for years. Dobbs’ claim on teacher pay, as well as his statements on health benefits and class size, are wrong and display an incredible level of disrespect toward SDEA members who work hard every day to educate San Diego’s children.
Knowing that the CFO has salary and benefit information readily available, in addition to a copy of the contract’s salary schedules which would quickly disprove his claim, it’s hard to believe that this was a simple mistake. The new CFO should spend less time bashing hard-working teachers and more time helping the District prepare to restore the full school year and repay deferred pay restoration.
Here are some facts on teacher compensation in San Diego Unified, which Dobbs should feel free to use in the future:
• The average teacher earns $65,901
• The cost of health coverage for the average teacher is $10,111
• The combined total of $76,656 for salary and benefits, means the new CFO overestimated the cost of the average teacher by MORE THAN 46 PERCENT
• More than two-thirds of San Diego Unified teachers have more than 10 years of classroom teaching experience
• More than half of San Diego Unified teachers have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and an additional 90 units of post-secondary education.
You probably should also read (in case you haven’t seen it) my response to Dobb’s statements yesterday and Aaryn Belfer’s spot on satirical take on the VOSD interview today. (Warning, coffee may shoot out your nose.)
In Case Hillary Doesn’t Run for President
Janet Napolitano visited San Diego yesterday on a border security ‘fact finding’ mission. It was more like a public relations mission as the only facts that were being found were the statistics handed out by the Secretary of Homeland Security and duly lapped up by the local press. Her appearances were dutifully spun both in print and on TV as part of the effort by the Obama administration to lay the groundwork for immigration reform legislation.
But maybe, just maybe, there was more to this story. The Washington Post reports today that Napolitano is telling folks she’s available to run for president in 2016, particularly if Hillary Clinton decides to pass on the opportunity. From the Post:
Before coming to Washington, Napolitano was a highly regarded and very popular governor in Arizona, a state not known as a hospitable one for Democrats. In 2005, Time Magazine named her one of the nation’s five best governors, noting: “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”
While in Arizona, she was criticized for not being aggressive enough in dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants. But her more recent job gives her an opportunity to change that image. This week, for instance, finds her on a high-profile tour of the southwest border, where she will highlight the stepped-up resources that the Obama administration has been devoting to reducing the flow of illegal entrants to this country.
Alert! Alert! (Not Asking for Money)
As part of our ‘grassroots news’ mission here at the San Diego Free Press we’re going to start expanding our neighborhood coverage in the coming weeks. And all you hipsters in North Park are first in line as we launch this grand plan, so expect to see us in our SD Free Press tee shirts prowling around. (Other neighborhoods shouldn’t be jealous, we’re headed your way as the year moves along.) So if you live or work in North Park and would like to pen a neighborhood-centric essay, drop us a line. Contact@SanDiegoFreePress.org
I should probably mention that we’re an all volunteer effort, so this is not a job opportunity. We just want to change the world.
ALSO, we editors had one of our infrequent face-to-face sessions (this enterprise is mostly virtual) last night. No punches were thrown. No major conspiracies were hatched, although our ongoing plans for world domination are still under consideration. But we have determined that our “collective voice” is a bit too testosterone-tinged. So we’re looking for some writers of the female persuasion. Interested? Drop us a lineContact@SanDiegoFreePress.org
On This Day: 1917 – The U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 (Asiatic Barred Zone Act) with an overwhelming majority. The action overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s December 14, 1916 veto. 1998 – Elton John and Stevie Wonder played at the White House. 2003– U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented (fabricated) evidence to the U.N. concerning Iraq’s material breach of U.N. Resolution 1441.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Coronado (1st St. & B Ave., Ferry Landing) 2:30 – 6 pm, Escondido (Grand Ave. btw Juniper & Kalmia St.) 2:30 – 6:00 pm , Mira Mesa (Mira Mesa High School 10510 Reagan Rd.) 3–7 pm, Morena District (1240 West Morena Blvd.) 3 – 7 pm, Otay Ranch – Chula Vista (2015 Birch Rd. and Eastlake Blvd.) 4 –8 pm, Pacific Beach (Bayard & Garnet) 2 – 6:30pm, UCSD/La Jolla (UCSD Campus, Town Square at Gilman/Meyers) 10 am – 2 pm (Sept. 25 through mid-June; closed for winter, spring and summer breaks)
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