Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Let’s start with the California Coastal Commission story in today’s UT-San Diego.
San Diego Assemblywomen Toni Atkins is sponsoring a bill that moved out of committee yesterday giving the California Coastal Commission the authority to directly fine law breakers.
Paragraphs three and four of the UT-SD story tell us first about the reaction against the proposed legislation:
Her Assembly Bill 976 has drawn sharp rebukes from business interests, many of whom already regard the Coastal Commission as too arbitrary when it comes to issuing permits for development along California’s 1,100 miles of coast.
The legislation “creates a bounty hunter mentality among Coastal Commission staff (and) would strip alleged violators of due process afforded by the courts,” states a letter signed by various associations representing the housing, oil, aquaculture and agricultural industries.
Gosh, that sounds pretty bad, huh? Why would the legislature consider such a thing? At the end of the story we learn that the Coastal Commission’s enforcement measures are all but toothless. In other words, any developer smart enough to game the system can get away with not fulfilling their promises once the permit is issued.
As it stands now the Commission has to go to court and ask a judge for permission to impose penalties on a badly behaved developer. It’s kind of like the Highway Patrol having to get a court order to issue a speeding ticket. From the UT-SD story:
The Coastal Commission says fines are rarely pursued because of the time and cost associated with going to court. The cases are filed by the separate Department of Justice under the attorney general’s jurisdiction.
The attorney general has followed through on just four such cases since 2003. Of those, three have been settled, bringing in $425,000, according to state statistics. But two of the cases cost the attorney general’s office more than $100,000 each to pursue.
So what are we talking about here? Not painting a building the right color? Again, from the UT story.
In making her case, Atkins cites two examples of alleged violations in San Diego County that have dragged on at the administrative level.
One involves a single-family development in Carlsbad that was granted a coastal development permit on the condition that a public access trail be constructed to Batiquitos Lagoon. But the trail has not been created.
Another involves a permit to turn apartments into condominiums in Oceanside. The developers were to build a boardwalk around the circumference of the property but never did.
Like I said, all the facts were there, but the ‘news account’ gives a distinct impression: those poor developers are being picked on by the all-powerful Coastal Commission.
Unions Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day
Although there was no story as such in today’s print version of the Daily Fishwrap, they did post a bunch of stunning photos on-line of Monday’s march organized by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. Oh, and the paper did mention that they’d learned via social media of Mayor Filner’s announcement during the event of his support for City Council District 4 candidate Myrtle Cole.
For those of you who missed the story, here’s the 10News account (I was, alas, out of town):
Hundreds of labor union members marched through downtown San Diego Monday to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day.
The sixth annual Cesar Chavez Day March has become largest of the year for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, according to the umbrella organization that represents the region’s unions.
Marchers rallied at Spanish Landing Park, then marched to Lindbergh Field and around county and state buildings, before winding up on the Community Concourse next to City Hall.
At the march, there were some signs that read “Si se puede” or, yes, it can be done — a term coined in the 1970s during one of Chavez’s peaceful protests.
Chavez — who championed the rights of farm workers in California and other states and started the National Farm Worker’s Association in 1962 — would have turned 86 years old on Sunday.
“He was an incredibly committed person, but he did it with an aura — like maybe Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela — of a calmness, of sweetness, of love that just brought people together,” San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said.
Filner Asks for Investigation of D4 Hit Piece Mailer
San Diego City Beat reports that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner asked State Attorney General Kamala Harris and County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to look into the legality of a mailer sent to residents of City Council District 4 by the San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform.
The mailer gave the impression it was from the City of San Diego by using a bastardized version of the City Seal as it sought to ‘warn’ area voters with factually challenged information regarding the background of candidate Myrtle Cole.
The City Beat story cites the Mayor saying he by-passed the City Attorney’s office with the investigative request because Jan Goldsmith and the Political Action Committee share the same campaign treasurer. And they actually gave SD Free Press a shout out for breaking the story.
A Sad Story About Gun Control
The Washington Post fronts with a story today suggesting that the National Rifle Association lobbying campaign against any further gun control measures is meeting with success on Capitol Hill.
The NRA will undoubtedly get lots of airplay and ink today as they announce their ‘all volunteer plan’ to put ‘good guys with guns’ into the nation’s schools. Here’s Adam Clarke Estes at the Atlantic Wire:
NPR came to a grim realization on Monday afternoon, just around the time local lawmakers wereagreeing to the nation’s strongest gun control bill in Connecticut: Despite a brief spike in interest after the Sandy Hook shootings, Americans care less about gun control than ever. Sounds like a great time for the National Rifle Association to stage another PR stunt! And that’s exactly what the NRA is doing on Tuesday when its “less controversial” spokesperson Asa Hutchinson will pull back the curtain on the gun lobby’s grand plan to boost school security in an effort to avoid future mass shootings.
The Sweet Irony of San Diego Schools’ Award Nomination
The announcement on March 27th that the San Diego Unified School District was named as a finalist for the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education was the icing on the cake for retiring Superintendent Bill Kowba.
The UT-SD quoted Kowba as saying “this is the Super Bowl of education”. And it is.
The Broad Prize for Urban Education is an annual $1 million award — the largest education prize in the country–that honors urban school districts that demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps among poor and minority students.
Here’s the irony part: Just a couple years back a group originating out of the University of San Diego attempted to persuade local voters that SDUSD was performing so poorly in the areas covered by the Broad prize that appointed members of the school board were needed to fix the problem.
San Diegan’s for Great Schools ran a classic astro-turf campaign using big bucks from a couple of ‘concerned’ local fat cats to gather signatures for a ballot measure undermining the democratically elected school board. They had press conferences where they touted ‘studies’ and a professionally run PR campaign while maintaining that they were simply a bunch of worried citizens.
The group failed to get the measure on the ballot. And it would appear that they now deserve a failing grade on their analysis of local schools.
Damning the New Superintendent with Faint Praise
Speaking of failing grades, I’d like to hand one out for the story over at Voice of San Diego today entitled ‘Central’s Mediocre Numbers’.
It seems as though there were other elementary schools in San Diego that showed greater improvement in their test scores than superintendent designee Cindy Marten’s Central Elementary. Oh noes! Test scores!
Never mind that Marten’s premise in turning around what was a failing school was that test scores were simply a by-product. And the scores at her school have improved. I guess slow and steady doesn’t win this race.
And it’s forgotten that Central Elementary was the location chosen by former President George Bush to launch ‘No Child Left Behind’, the controversial educational reform program that even reformers are admitting hasn’t worked. Central’s sudden spike in test scores prior to the presidential proclamation a decade ago tanked in subsequent years despite large incentives paid to teachers as a reward.
Reporter Will Carless does include the “x” factor as part of his story, quoting SDUSD trustee Richard Barrera:
“What’s very clear when you go to Central is that you have an almost universal sense of people feeling that they’re part of a community where kids are learning, where exciting things are happening and where people are feeling supported,” Barrera said. “In those aspects, Central is certainly a model of what’s possible in a high-poverty neighborhood school.”
Trustee Scott Barnett, whose philosophy often clashes with Barrera’s, agreed.
As with the UT-SD story I referenced earlier in this column, all the facts are there in the VOSD story. But I take issue with building any story around education starting with test scores as the basic premise.
Haven’t we learned that ‘dog won’t hunt any more’?
It’s Barrio Logan Month at San Diego Free Press
Part of our mission here at the San Diego Free Press involves “Grassroots News”. And one of the mechanisms we’re using to make that promise a reality (trust me, I know we have a long way to go) is via periodic focus on the neighborhoods in San Diego. So for the next few weeks join us as we explore Barrio Logan. As always we are looking for writers to help us tell those stories. (Contact@SanDiegoFreePress.Org) And don’t worry North Park, we haven’t forgotten you.
On This Day: 1963 – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King began the first non-violent campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. 1967 – The Beatles finished recording the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” 1989 – An editorial in the “New York Times” declared that the Cold War was over.
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