By Doug Porter
Last week a court invalidated the City’s scheme for renovating Balboa Park, saying that lawmakers blatantly ignored a city statute. The judge liked the plan, which included building a parking garage and a by-pass, but couldn’t abide the process.
Yesterday an administrative judge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruled that former Mayor Jerry Sanders violated state labor law by failing to offer unions the opportunity to negotiate on pension issues prior to launching a ballot initiative.
Could these rulings portend that an era of lawlessness going back decades in America’s Finest City is coming to an end? I’m not so sure. After all, San Diego does have a rich tradition of politicians just doing whatever the hell they want to and hoping they don’t get caught.
Four decades ago, the Mayor (Frank Curran) was hauled off to jail for an under-the-table deal that reset taxi rates. In 1985 the Mayor (Roger Hedgecock) was forced from office, after a second trial found him guilty of one count of conspiracy and twelve counts of perjury, related to the alleged failure to report all campaign contributions. A year or so back our Mayor told Qualcomm ‘no problem’ when they wanted to change up signage at the football stadium on the cheap (Not a crime, but a sure indication of how things work at City Hall).
If you read the transcript from the PERB ruling, you’ll discover a narrative about a Mayor working hard to do an end run around the law, motivated by political pressures generated from the moneyed downtown crowd. The document describes a March meeting where representatives of the Lincoln Club and the SD Taxpayers Association basically dictated to Mayor Sanders what his course of action needed to be.
The premise that Proposition B (the pension reform initiative) was a grassroots measure blessed by Citizen Jerry Saunders is exposed as a complete falsehood. City resources and personnel were used time and time again to promote this amendment to the City Charter. And thatwas illegal.
It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
Not surprisingly, the same cabal of ‘private citizens’ that funded Proposition B has vowed to fight on. The City has no choice but to oppose the decision, as its terms would collapse the financial house of cards created to implement “pension reform’. The case will now move into the state court system, where it will languish for years.
The sad part of this whole deal is that the City’s employee unions would have ultimately (as they have in the past) agreed to terms that will cost the taxpayers much less than the current debacle. An attempt by the Police Officers Association, whose members weren’t affected by the terms of Proposition B, to advance a money-saving retirement plan was rejected by the mayor for purely political reasons.
And that brings me to the whole point of this mess. The ‘pension crisis’ and the ‘reforms’ that were precipitated didn’t have to be played the way it was. The prudent course would have been to at least make an honest attempt to bring all parties to the table to work out a solution. As the history set out in the PERB ruling clearly shows, this never happened.
This was never about saving the taxpayers money. It was an exercise in political power, designed to undermine the citizenry’s confidence in government so those with an ideology that demands ‘drowning government in a bath tub’ could gain supremacy.
The State of the Union
The network’s poll found that 77 percent of viewers had a somewhat or very positive view of the address, and 22 percent had a negative response. At the end of the speech, 71 percent said Obama’s policies would move the country in the right direction, up from 65 percent earlier in the evening.
More specifically, 70 percent said Obama’s policies on guns would move the country in the right direction, up from 61 percent pre-speech.
Lie To Me
The Washington Post reached out to the people who inspired the TV show ‘Lie to Me’ for analysis of the President’s body language during his speech. They utilized the services of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane. They claim to analyze the 46 facial muscles capable of making 10,000 facial expressions, the twitch of the eyebrow, the sincerity of the smile, the jut of the chin and the hand gestures to determine when someone is telling the truth, fibbing or just saying things that they think people want to hear.
President Obama swallowed hard after he averred that protections for consumers, health care patients and homeowners are stronger than ever before. A sure sign, body language expert Tonya Reiman said, that he wasn’t sure he believed what he was saying.
His eyes flashed anger when he spoke of guns and the children of Newtown. The tightness of his jaw registered frustration when he spoke of AIDS. His eyes widened, a sign of intensity, when talking about people learning English. His eyes blinked faster as he spoke of terrorism, a sign he was touching a raw nerve. And he smirked, one side of his mouth drawing up as he spoke of CEO salaries never being higher as wages for the poor and middle income have remained stagnant. “That was a flash of contempt,” she said.
Reiman watched carefully and noted that, on every point, from bringing troops home from Afghanistan, to gun control to admonishing lawmakers to stop the brinksmanship with sequestration, Obama kept his palms parallel or down. And that’s critical. For a country that tends to elect its leaders because they are tall, or because they look good, keeping the palms down shows you mean business and you are not someone to be messed with.
More State of the Union Punditry
It was no surprise that the New York Times liked the speech:
Mr. Obama’s broad second-term agenda is impressive. It is largely what won him re-election. His task now is to turn his widespread public support into a wedge to break Washington’s gridlock.
And also not a surprise that the UT-San Diego hated it:
We wish he’d keep the 2010 promise he made about solving the debt problem rather than bequeathing it to our children. But instead of tackling the debt crisis, he’s made it worse – and now he barely acknowledges it exists. Let’s call this what it is: intergenerational child abuse.
Paul Krugman took on Mario Rubio’s watered down (pun intended) response to the State of the Union address:
It’s true, as Andy Rosenthal says, that Rubio mainly reminded us that Republicans don’t like government or taxes; surprise! But he also reminded us that Republicans don’t like reality.
Here’s the passage:
This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.
OK, leave on one side the caricature of Obama, with the usual mirror-image fallacy (we want smaller government, therefore liberals just want bigger government, never mind what it does); there we go with the “Barney Frank did it” story. Deregulation, the explosive growth of virtually unregulated shadow banking, lax lending standards by loan originators who sold their loans off as soon as they were made, had nothing to do with it — it was all the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie, and Freddie.
Look, this is one of the most thoroughly researched topics out there, and every piece of the government-did-it thesis has been refuted; see Mike Konczal for a summary. No, the CRA wasn’t responsible for the epidemic of bad lending; no, Fannie and Freddie didn’t cause the housing bubble; no, the “high-risk” loans of the GSEs weren’t remotely as risky as subprime.
Paul Rand gave the Tea Party response to Obama’s address. He seemed to be thrilled with the prospect of the coming sequestration. It was much ado about nothing. After all, Rubio and Rand have the same voting record, according to Roll Call.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
The Lone Star Project, a Democratic organization, aired its own radio advertisement in Sacramento on Tuesday calling the Texan governor’s trip a publicity stunt.
“Hello, California, this is Texas,” drawled a narrator. “Well, it looks like Rick Perry got out again.” The advertisement praises Texasbut criticizes Perry, whose image took a hit following a gaffe-filled presidential campaign.
“He’s trying to rehabilitate himself,” said Matt Angle, the organization’s director. “He embarrassed himself in the presidential campaign.”
Actual Facts About Who’s Leaving California
Jed Kolko, Chief Economist for an outfit called Trulia Trends, an outfit that digs through economic data to winnow out real estate trends for investors, decided to take a look at California’s migration stats. His findings, in a nutshell:
Who leads the charge out of California? Even though California’s richer residents face high tax rates, lower-income households are more likely to leave. From 2005 to 2011, California lost 158 people with household incomes under $20,000 for every 100 who arrived, and 165 for every 100 people with household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000. In contrast, just slightly more people with household incomes in the $100,000-$200,000 range left than came to California (103 out per 100 in), and California actually gained a hair more people in the $200,000+ range than it lost (99 out per 100 in). The rich aren’t leaving California, but the poor and the middle class are.
Papa Doug: Even Better Than ‘Mis-spoke Himself’
You can forget about the story that appeared here yesterday about the publisher of UT-San Diego wanting to buy the Los Angeles Times. It was all a misunderstanding.
So says the U-T San Diego’s CEO John Lynch in a late night email to the La Jolla Patch, which broke the story.
Late Monday night, U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch told Patch that publisher Doug Manchester, “who had just returned from traveling, misunderstood [a question from the audience] and indicated the U-T was interested in the Tribune.”
Manchester, 70, had been asked a question regarding the Tribune Co. and the U-T’s interest in acquiring it, Lynch said via email
The Patch based its story on three witnesses from a luncheon meeting of the San Diego County Federation of Republican Women, all of whom reportedly heard Manchester say “We’re trying to make this deal happen.” (h/t Ken Stone)
It Can’t Happen Here…
The folks at KPBS and inewsource Investigations Desk have done a terrific story about just how untrained and unprepared the private security forces that patrol San Diego’s trolleys and trains are. Public safety for these transportation systems owned by San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District, is contracted out to a company called Universal Protection Service. Money quote:
According to these contracts, all officers are required to pass basic and advanced training curriculums, be licensed in first aid and CPR, able to conduct bomb searches and building evacuations, and prepared to act as primary responders to terrorism threats.
For more than $9 million a year, the districts hired officers to respond to fatality scenes involving train vs. pedestrian accidents, suicides, and automobile collisions; to react to calls for fainting, shortness of breath, heart attacks and seizures; and to assist in collision investigations, help during power outages and maintain crowd control when needed.
Yet multiple interviews have revealed that much of the contractually-obligated training — which would enable them to do all of those jobs — hasn’t happened for at least the past five years.
Now we know why Carl DeMaio will never take the trolley to work.
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@
On This Day: 1920 – The National Negro Baseball League was organized. 1972 – Led Zeppelin was forced to cancel a concert in Singapore when officials wouldn’t let them off the plane because of their long hair. 2000 – Charles M. Schulz’s last original Sunday “Peanuts” comic strip appeared in newspapers. Schulz had died the day before.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm
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