By Doug Porter
Get ready for more UT-San Diego editorials calling Mayor Filner a bully.
He’s calling into question the deal struck between former Mayor Jerry Sanders and the downtown crowd giving them control over the Convention Center’s sales and marketing. Yesterday Filner’s office released a letter calling for an end to that agreement, demanding return of those functions to a City sponsored non-profit.
This agreement was the quid pro quo demanded by hoteliers in 2012 in return for their cooperation with an increase in taxes to pay for the Convention Center expansion.
The Convention Center Corp., a nonprofit public agency, was formerly charged with promoting the center to trade groups.
ConVis, officially named San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau took over Convention Center sales and marketing as a result of the agreement with Sanders. It was a deal that made no sense, although the Mayor’s office claimed it would increase efficiencies in promoting both the City and the Convention Center.
The city ended a previous booking deal with ConVis in 2004, after a scandal involving taxpayer dollars being spent on liquor and perks for ConVis’ then-executive director came to light.
From a Voice of San Diego article last summer:
Meanwhile, lawyers for San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District plan are in court today, hoping to compel Mayor Bob Filner to release funds needed to manage the district before funding runs out at the end of March. Judge Timothy Taylor will be asked for an expedited briefing schedule, with an eye towards getting a ruling on March 22.
UPDATE: The Judge has ruled that he is inclined to honor the TMD’s request. However questions about who is representing the Mayor in this situation have postponed a final ruling. UT’s Matthew Hall as an excellent Storify (collection of Tweets) up describing the action.
My colleague Andy Cohen will have a report up on the site later today outlining the latest developments in this battle.
Seeking to Sabotage School Superintendent Selection?
The UT-San Diego (did anybody notice they increased the cover price this week?) has made undermining the trustees of San Diego’s Unified School District a political priority over the past few years. After all, the school board is a hotbed of liberalism, unwilling to take steps to crush unions and privatize public schools.
To be truthful, the board has done some things that have left a lot of people scratching their heads around town. But their missteps and indecision simply don’t match up with the level of invective that’s been directed towards the board by our local daily.
Realizing that the trustees announcement of Cindy Marten as their choice for superintendent in the wake of Bill Kowba’s retirement was receiving lots of public support, they’ve gone after the ‘process’ used by the school board.
UT-SD’s Chihuahua (aka Watchdog) reporter Jeff McDonald has a story up trying its best to raise questions about whether the Brown Act was violated by the trustees. Citing “questions” that have been “raised” – it does not say who’s asking—the article discusses whether the board followed open-meetings laws in making its choice.
Professor James Gazell, who teaches public administration at San Diego State University, gets quoted towards the end of the article, saying he thinks that, while there may be room in the regulations governing the Brown Act for the trustees’ action, they violated the intent of the law. That’s the ‘evidence’, folks.
Trustee Richard Barrera stepped up to the plate and defended the decision:
“We believe we were in full compliance with the law and we were doing it with the advice of our counsel,” said Trustee Richard Barrera, a community organizer who has long advocated for the public to be included in critical decisions. “When it becomes clear that the board unanimously knows who we want to hire, it just wouldn’t be honest to go out to the community as if we hadn’t made that decision.”
No contract with Ms. Marten has been signed. In fact, the trustees will consider a motion this evening authorizing the staff to negotiate with her. And there will be public hearings on her qualifications. The only thing missing here is that the SDUSD didn’t spend tens of thousands of dollars paying for consultants.
Meanwhile Ms. Marten is busy meeting with community groups. Word has it that she was well-received by the Point Loma cluster, a multi-school parents group that has often had issues with SDUSD, last night.
If you think this UT-San Diego report was merely an investigative reporter doing his job, you haven’t been following the machinations at the local daily over the past 40 years. Any editor worth his salt would have realized that this reportage was a ‘non-story’-unless you have an axe to grind.
The Republican Plan: First the Sequester, Then Voucher-Care
The Washington Post is up with a story this morning about the behind the scenes maneuvering by hard-core fiscal conservatives leading up to the party’s refusal to negotiate with Democrats over the sequester.
The story says Speaker John A. Boehner cut a deal back in January with Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Reps. Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Tom Price (Ga.) and Steve Scalise (La.), all past chairmen of the House Budget committee. Along with Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, the congressmen had been plotting a strategy for handling a series of fiscal deadlines at the beginning of 2013 in hopes of “getting conservative solutions,” Price told the Post.
Anxiety is rising among House Republicans about a strategy of appeasement toward fiscal hard-liners that could require them to embrace not only the sequester but also sharp new cuts to federal health and retirement programs.
Letting the sequester hit was just the first step in a pact forged in January between conservative leaders and Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to keep the government open and the nation out of default. Now comes step 2: adopting a budget plan that would wipe out deficits entirely by 2023.
The strategy runs counter to warnings from prominent Republicans such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal against becoming “the party of austerity.” Just as GOP lawmakers are tacitly endorsing sequester cuts to the Pentagon, long a sacred cow, they fear the balanced-budget goal will force them to abandon a campaign pledge not to reduce Medicare benefits for those who are now 55 and older.
The deal was brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan.
Neither Boehner nor House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had previously championed a balanced budget. In 2010, Boehner did not include it among the planks of a detailed campaign platform that helped the GOP win control of the House. In 2011, Cantor told reporters that a balanced budget was impossible “without severely impacting the benefits that current seniors and retirees are getting now.”
The Los Angeles Times described what Rep. Ryan and his cohorts have in mind, which includes adding more people to their vouchercare plan:
Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the former Republican vice presidential nominee, is preparing a budget blueprint that aims to balance revenue and spending in 10 years. But his effort has run afoul of the GOP vow not to change Medicare — the federal healthcare program for seniors and the disabled — for those now 55 or older.
Medicare eligibility currently begins at age 65. Ryan’s approach would transform the benefits program into one that would provide a fixed amount of money in a voucher that future seniors could apply to the cost of buying private health insurance or to buying coverage through traditional Medicare.
Throughout last year’s presidential campaign, the GOP promised not to change Medicare for today’s seniors — only the next generation. But Republicans familiar with the number-crunching in Ryan’s budget committee say balancing the budget may not be possible unless the changes start for those who are now 56 and younger.
Some Sequester Budgets are More Equal than Others
House Republicans are proposing a short term budget to ease the burden of sequesterization for their pet projects, easing its impact on defense, veterans, immigration and law enforcement, while allowing cuts to proceed with anti-poverty efforts, education funding, Medicare and more.
From Zach Carter:
The military would not be protected from all sequestration’s effects, but the new legislation would update the spending plans for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, giving priority to programs that are more important today than they were a year ago and thereby, presumably, doing less damage to national security.
The GOP proposal would also boost the budget for areas of the military not affected by the sequester and give the defense secretary greater leeway to shuffle funds among different programs. The military’s operation-and-maintenance fund would increase by $10.4 billion above last year’s level, for instance, while some lower-priority programs would be cut.
The bill contains additional funding as well to allow Customs and Border Protection and the FBI to avoid layoffs, and it requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain 34,000 detention beds for those suspected of being undocumented immigrants.
Boo! The Ghost of ACORN Rises
The short term budget proposal also contains provisions banning federal funding (page 221) to anti-poverty group ACORN, despite the fact that the group has already been stripped of federal funding — and has been defunct for nearly three years.
The Alliance of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) group disbanded back in March, 2010, following a conservative backed onslaught that included the release of highly edited videos that appeared to show employees of the organization offering advice on tax avoidance related to prostitution and child smuggling.
Independent investigations by the California attorney general, the Massachusetts attorney general and the Brooklyn, N.Y. district attorney later cleared the group. Despite this ACORN still exists in the minds of the Teahadist legislative set, at least when they’re looking to score points with hard core righties.
Pregnant Woman Fired for Premarital Sex, Boyfriend Offered Job by Same Employer
El Cajon resident Teri James has filed suit against San Diego Christian College, saying that she was dismissed from her position after being asked point-blank if she was pregnant. She was ordered to vacate the building right after the meeting with her supervisor.
Subsequent to James’ termination, she alleges that the father of the child (now her husband) was offered a position with the college, which was aware of their relationship, even though it should have been obvious that he was also guilty of engaging in premarital sex.
James’s firing was apparently justified by the college because she’d signed a “community covenant,” wherein employees and students agree to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They are also required to abstain from “abusive anger, malice, jealousy, lust, sexually immoral behavior including premarital sex, adultery, pornography and homosexuality,” according to a statement from attorney Gloria Allred.
“It does not say that you will be fired if you do not comply,” Allred told NBC’s Today show.
So can a school fire an unmarried, pregnant woman?
Simply put, yes, if she violated a school contract. But it’s not clear cut, as case law has not settled these claims, said spokeswoman Christine Nazer of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission via email. An organization can require employees not to engage in premarital sex but cannot fire her because she becomes pregnant, Nazer explained.
Back in San Diego County, James says she hopes that the lawsuit will change the lives of women employed by Christian organizations. “I want to pave the way, say, Christian organizations, you can’t necessarily fall back on this,” she said. “You can’t hurt people like this. If you say that you stand for love and mercy and grace — stand for those who are weak.”
On This Day: 1624 – In the colony of Virginia, the upper class was exempted from whipping by legislation. 1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered a four-day bank holiday in order to stop large amounts of money from being withdrawn from banks. 1982 – John Belushi died in Los Angeles of a drug overdose at the age of 33.
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