By Doug Porter
Oh, the sweet, sweet irony. Mayor Bob Filner’s refusal to sign off on an operating agreement for the San Diego Tourism Marketing District has led to a firestorm of criticism over the past two months. He’s been vilified at the UT-San Diego, which just this week ran an editorial cartoon depicting the Mayor as The Joker, a villain from the Batman comic/TV/Movie series.
Letters to editor have claimed Filner hates the tourism industry, that he’s purposely tried to cause job loss and even demanded a recall election.
Yesterday, after much posturing and pressure, the City Council endorsed an agreement that protected San Diego taxpayers, created more transparency and encouraged funding for the Balboa Park Exposition Centennial. It wasn’t everything Filner asked for, but his point was made. Business as it used to be conducted downtown will be operating under a different set of rules during his administration.
Credit goes to City Councilman David Alvarez, whose intervention led to the settlement. The “Joker” just saved San Diego taxpayers $30 million should the TMD scheme be ruled illegal.
Unlike a raucous City Council meeting on Tuesday, there was no bickering at a special gathering called to address the issue Thursday.
The deal mediated by Councilman David Alvarez calls for 20-25 of the largest hotels to indemnify the city in case it loses lawsuits that challenge the agency’s funding mechanism.
Money collected from major hotels that refuse to participate in the indemnification program would go into a reserve fund to help pay for any adverse judgments.
Also, the district will post salaries of employees of organizations that receive funding, and will entertain a request by organizers of a yearlong celebration of Balboa Park‘s 2015 centennial to get 10 percent of district funding the next two years.
All three points were priorities for the mayor, who accepted milder versions of the terms he sought. He chalked it up to “political give-and-take.”
From Gene Cubbison over at NBC7 News:
“I have said from the beginning, of course, that I believe the (law)suits that claim the TMD is illegal will succeed,” Filner told council members during a special meeting. “But that’s in court, that’s neither here nor there today — although I noticed the attorney for the TMD could not avoid calling it a tax.”
The underlying issue is whether the Tourism Marketing District, a creation of the city’s hotel industry, has the legal power to impose the 2 percent room surcharge that the city has been collecting at the rate of $30 million a year.
So it ends. “It’s great that we are one big happy family,” said City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.
Another ObamaCare ObamaScare Story
So say the apologists for the current healthcare system, which charges Americans more money for less healthcare than virtually all industrialized countries.
Today’s ObamaScareTM concerns a report from Covered California, the state agency charged with implementing the federal Affordable Care Act, written up in the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s the lede:
About 5 million Californians got a first glimpse at what they might pay next year under the federal healthcare law. For many, that coverage will come with a hefty price tag.
Compared with what individual policies cost now, premiums are expected to rise an average of 30% for many middle-income residents who don’t get their insurance through their employers.
Let’s jump down eighteen paragraphs or so into the story and find out just how bad this will be.
Starting next year, income will drive what most consumers ultimately end up paying for their coverage in the individual market.
For instance, a family of four earning $50,000 annually would qualify for a subsidy that would lower its premiums to $280 a month, according to state estimates. In contrast, a family earning $100,000 annually would not qualify for a federal subsidy and would be charged the full premium of $1,149.
There’s no mention of death panels anywhere in the story.
The Times story in toto isn’t all that bad. But the knock-offs of it already appearing around the country have taken then headline and lede and turned them into yet another example of the pernicious nature of right wing memes.
The Corporatocracy, Hard at Work
Executives at Monsanto and other Big Ag outfits are no doubt celebrating this week as they’ve successfully pulled another fast one on the American public. I’d be inclined to think that GMO’s (genetically modified seeds in this case) weren’t that big a deal but for all the corporate subterfuge that gets used to protect this ‘product’.
Exhibit A in making a case for this under the table maneuvering should be Section 735 of the Agricultural Appropriations Bill (HR 933). FromSalon:
Slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which passed through Congress last week, was a small provision that’s a big deal for Monsanto and its opponents. The provision protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks and has thus been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” by activists who oppose the biotech giant. President Barack Obama signed the spending bill, including the provision, into law on Tuesday
Since the act’s passing, more than 250,000 people have signed a petition opposing the provision and a rally, consisting largely of farmers organized by the Food Democracy Now network, protested outside the White House Wednesday. Not only has anger been directed at the Monsanto Protection Act’s content, but the way in which the provision was passed through Congress without appropriate review by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The biotech rider instead was introduced anonymously as the larger bill progressed — little wonder food activists are accusing lobbyists and Congress members of backroom dealings.
Education Reformer Rhee Takes Another Hit
I’ve never understood why Michelle Rhee gets away with being the darling of the ‘school reform’ set. She’s got such a proven history of ‘fact inflation’. Lately she’s been touring California seeking to drum up support for her cause.
You’d think media like the UT-San Diego, which ran a glowing profile/interview of her recently, would do some basic background work before jumping on her bandwagon. But you’d be wrong.
The Los Angeles Times also profiled her, and now they’re walking one big part of the story back. Today’s Times has a story up debunking the claim about being a ‘public school parent’.
After the American Federation of Teachers challenged Rhee’s claim, the Times began asking more questions. After much weasling, it turns out while Rhee may claim to be a public school parent, her children attend private schools. From the Times:
Education activists have raised the issue because Rhee’s proposals target the country’s public education system.
If both of Rhee’s children do not attend public school, Rhee and her advocacy group appear to have done little to correct the record. An extensive Reuters profile last year said both of her daughters attend public school.
And when asked the question directly, Rhee herself has been evasive.
In an interview with Nashville‘s City Paper this year, the eduction activist merely said: “What I will say is that I am a public school parent.” When pressed on whether her children attended a charter school, Rhee said, “I would rather … I keep my comments to I’m a public school parent.”
No Reward for You…
Score one for the bad guys? Scribe Ken Layne says those folks that fingered cop killer Christopher Dorner last month are being denied a chance to claim the publicly offered reward.
When the ex-LAPD supervillain Christopher Dorner rampaged across Southern California last month, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a million-dollar reward for information leading to Dorner’s capture. Three brave heroes who survived their encounters with Dorner have since claimed the reward, but the stingy governments and groups who offered the money now refuse to pay because Dorner somehow didn’t survive an army of cops roasting and demolishing the mountain cabin he holed up inside for his last stand.
Jim and Karen Reynolds survived a real-life crappy thriller movie when Dorner tied them up and held them prisoner in their nearby vacation cabin, and Rick Heltebrake lived through a harrowing carjacking by Dorner. Now the so-called community leaders who offered the reward are saying, “Ehh, Dorner didn’t actually make it to being convicted, so maybe we’ll just keep this money.”
These People Will Believe Anything…
Let me share this nugget with you so you won’t be shocked when it shows up in an email from your crazy uncle…
The tinfoil hat set on the right is in a frenzy over this report from conspiracist extraordinaire Alex Jones:
President Barack Obama is now the global head of Al-Qaeda – bankrolling, arming and equipping terrorists around the world in order to achieve his administration’s geopolitical objectives – while simultaneously invoking the threat of terrorists domestically to destroy the bill of rights.
Just thought you ought to know, in case the ObamaCare death squads haven’t reached your neighborhood yet.
Speaking of Neighborhoods…
One of San Diego’s largest and longest running weekly markets, the Hillcrest Farmers Market, will expand its footprint starting next Sunday, April 7. The change is trigged by upcoming plans to renovate the adjacent DMV property and the simple fact of its overwhelming popularity.
In addition to be a damn fine place to shop [no, I wasn’t paid for this plug] the 16 year old market is absolutely one of the best people-watching places in San Diego.
The market will expand south on Normal Street up to University Avenue to accommodate more vendors, and additional parking and a free trolley shuttle will be available. The new ParkHillcrest trolley service will add a Sunday loop through the market at Harvey Milk Street and Normal Street to the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) headquarters building, which has over 300 available parking spaces – free of charge.
On This Day: 1951 – “The King and I” opened on Broadway. 1971 – A jury in Los Angeles recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders. The death sentences were later commuted to life in prison. 1973 – The last U.S. troops left South Vietnam.
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