So much news, so little time… Here is today’s roundup.
A fifty eight page report from State Auditor Elaine Howle examining the City of San Diego’s practices regarding permitting for construction projects has raised serious ethical and legal questions about a Walmart location under construction in Sherman Heights.
Community groups opposed to the destruction of the Historic Farmer’s Market building in Sherman Heights were joined by organized labor in protests and lawsuits aimed at halting Walmart. But their complaints fell on deaf ears as city officials claimed all appropriate reviews had been conducted and touted the mega-retailer’s plans to create jobs in business-friendly San Diego.
Now it’s come out that the City didn’t even issue permits until after construction was underway, even after the lawsuits were filed. From the UT-San Diego story:
The Sherman Heights construction project gained approval even as Walmart was making donations to political causes favored by former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican — timing that was highlighted in a U-T Watchdog report in June 2012. Walmart said the political contributions were part of the company’s strategy to support community issues.
In the wake of the report United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135 President Mickey Kasparian called for the City of San Diego to take action. From the UFCW press release, which was largely ignored by area media outlets:
“In light of the finding by state auditors, our city has no choice but to take extreme action on the Walmart project in Sherman Heights,” demanded Kasparian. “The clear violations of City codes and procedures, possible ethics violations, and a complete lack of transparency, are stunning in their magnitude.”
“Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and his Administration are completely responsible for this mess,” said Kasparian. “An historic site was demolished under his watch. San Diego and its citizens deserve better.”
“The Walmart construction site in Sherman Heights should be closed and their permits should be revoked,” Mr. Kasparian went on to state. “Walmart has recently been accused of bribery scandals in Mexico and India. We need to know the truth here in San Diego as well.”
Walmart’s Money Machine Grinds on
Unfolding scandals surrounding Michelle Rhee and her StudentsFirst organization have not stopped the flow of corporate dollars. The Walton Family Foundation announced yesterday that it is significantly increasing its support for StudentsFirst with an $8 million investment over two years.
Recent accounts have cast a very negative spotlight on Rhee’s role in scandals involving cheating on standardized tests while she was running the DC school system. Although her ‘reforms’ have largely remained in place, test scores – the metric that Rhee insisted was primary—have fallen since her departure, particularly in schools that appeared to show amazing progress during her tenure.
Just in case you had any doubt about Rhee’s real agenda, there’s this from Diane Ravitch’s blog:
As Laura Clawson writes at The Daily Kos, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst honored an anti-gay legislator in Tennessee as its “legislator of the year.” Last year, the organization picked a Georgia legislator known for his strident anti-immigrant views.
Rhee supported 105 candidates in 2012. 90 were Republicans.
Her organization spent nearly $1 million in Tennessee legislative races to make sure the state legislature was in the hands of the most rightwing candidates, the ones who would push hard for privatization and for stripping teachers of any job protection and academic freedom.
Another Amazing Business Success Story That’s Not So Amazing
Circulation is UP at the UT-San Diego. Too good to be true? Yes it probably is.
That’s what I thought when I saw the various Tweets and puffery surrounding UT-San Diego’s claim that circulation had risen by nearly nine percent over the past six months.
Here’s the KPBS lede:
U-T San Diego is back in the top 25 newspapers in the country, according to the latest circulation figures from Alliance for Audited Media. The paper had fallen out of that ranking last fall.
U-T San Diego ranked 23rd among the national top 25 newspapers as of March of this year, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Audited Media. U-T San Diego reported an 8.7 percent gain in weekday circulation. The increase includes print and digital editions.
It all seems wonderful until you realize that publisher Doug Manchester picked up the North County Times with its 77,000+ daily print edition readers last fall. I’d love to play the numbers game here with before and after figures, but the audit people changed up the way they look at readership. The proportions of increase or decrease, regardless of the actual numbers, should be the same.
UT-San Diego’s management boasted last fall after purchasing the NC Times about their new combined circulation putting them into the top ten newspapers around the country. The fact is that they’re ranked number 23. And my best guesstimate is that they only held on to about one third of the NCT audience.
So Manchester spent $12 million to gain 20,000 or so weekday readers. Let’s hope he made out on the real estate end of that deal.
Then we come to their Sunday readership, which purportedly showed an even greater increase. Except that Don Bauder over the SD Reader thinks this may not be the case:
However, in assessing circulation for the U-T, or any other newspaper, one factor is critical: A PAPER SOLD FOR A PENNY COUNTS AS PAID CIRCULATION.
The U-T has been selling papers for a penny to churches and similar institutions, which then turn around and sell the paper to its members for $1 or so as a fundraising technique. So it is difficult to assess these circulation figures, or figures from other papers that sell papers for a penny each.
San Francisco Pride Parade Backlash
OMG. OMG. OMG. There’s trouble in the Golden Gate City, and that’s Trouble with a capital T. From Common Dreams:
Governing officials of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade are facing a severe backlash after u-turning on their decision to make embattled military whistleblower Bradley Manning an honorary Grand Marshal at the city’s well-attended and much celebrated LGBT event in June.
On Monday night, protesters who accused SF Pride, which organizes the parade, of “turning its back on activism and dissent” gathered outside the group’s headquarters in San Francisco to protest the decision. Among the speakers at the protest was Daniel Ellsberg, who famously released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times during the Vietnam War.
In the crowd, protesters shouted: “They say court martial!—We say Grand Marshal!”
Glen Greenwald over at The Guardian ripped the officialdom at SF Pride a new one, under the subhead: “A seemingly trivial controversy reveals quite a bit about pervasive political values”
Regardless of how you feel about the whole Wikileaks/Assange/Manning deal, the way this was handled in San Francisco will undoubtedly come back to haunt them. From the Guardian:
News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed.
Williams proclaimed that “Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration” and termed his selection “a mistake”. She blamed it all on a “staff person” who prematurely made the announcement based on a preliminary vote, and she assures us all that the culprit “has been disciplined”: disciplined. She then accuses Manning of “actions which placed in harms way [sic] the lives of our men and women in uniform”: a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensivel
Here’s what I expect this year’s parade will look like:
Nothing But Good News for Bike Riders
Things are looking so bright they gotta wear shades for bicycle fans these days, both nationally and locally.
The nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s for U.S. Transportation secretary on Monday has bike enthusiasts excited. The Hill quotes League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke as saying:
“When Secretary LaHood announced his departure, the bicycling community asked the White House to appoint a successor with a clear commitment to multi-modal solutions to local transportation challenges, and Mayor Foxx clearly checks those boxes,”
Here in San Diego the two wheeled set is excited about a meeting tomorrow (My 2nd) featuring Martha Roskowski, the Green Lane ProjectDirector. From Bike San Diego:
A few months ago BikeSD member Nicole Capretz, from the Environmental Health Coalition, tweeted a link to Council President Todd Gloria and Councilmember David Alvarez on how to build better bike lanes and get more people on bikes. That sparked a discussion ending with Alvarez asking to meet Martha Roskowski.
On Thursday, Alvarez will get his wish when he meets with Roskowski along with other elected officials and business owners when they all meet to discuss how they can lead efforts to implement the next generation of bike lanes to San Diego. This discussion will include our efforts to have the City of San Diego apply to be one of the six cities that the Green Lane Project will offer technical support and resources to in order to build world class bicycle networks.
This is huge. Green Lanes are a term describing a growing family of modern bikeways “inspired by decades of experience in European cities and adapted to meet the unique needs of American streets.”
The best part about these projects has been the positive impacts that small businesses have realized. The dedicated lanes, being built on streets in cities across the country, have proven to boost foot traffic and sales for adjacent retail stores. In New York City retail sales increased 49% on 9th Avenue after protected green lanes were installed, compared to 3% growth in the rest of Manhattan.
Thursday’s meeting with Martha Roskowski will be held at the Business Improvement District Office – 110 W. C Street, Suite 2112 (downtown) starting at 6pm. They’d like you to RSVP here.
Going Inside the Dirty Wars
Jeremy Scahill, author of the New York Times best-seller Blackwater, will discuss his recently released book, Dirty Wars, The World is a Battlefield at the Hoover High School (4474 El Cajon Blvd ) auditorium Thursday, May 2nd starting at 7pm.
Learn all about it folks. This is the reality of 21st century warfare, and it ain’t pretty.
Dirty Wars follows the consequences of the declaration that “the world is a battlefield,” as Scahill uncovers the most important foreign policy story of our time. From Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond, Scahill reports from the frontlines in this high-stakes investigation and explores the depths of America’s global killing machine. He goes beneath the surface of these covert wars, conducted in the shadows, outside the range of the press, without effective congressional oversight or public debate. And, based on unprecedented access, Scahill tells the chilling story of an American citizen marked for assassination by his own government.
This event is sponsored by the Peace Resource Center of San Diego and the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice. There is no charge, although donations are appreciated. For more information, email here.
Video du Jour:
Ten years ago today President Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared “Mission Accomplished.” Here’s Neil Young’s “Shock and Awe” to honor all that have passed so that they are not forgotten. This should be required viewing for every high school student in the US.
On This Day: 1889 – Asa Candler published a full-page advertisement in The Atlanta Journal, proclaiming his wholesale and retail drug business as “sole proprietors of Coca-Cola … Delicious. Refreshing. Exhilarating. Invigorating.” Mr. Candler did not actually achieve sole ownership until 1891 at a cost of $2,300. 1922 – Charlie Robertson of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect no-hit, no-run game against the Detroit Tigers. The Sox won 3-0. Another perfect game did not come along until 46 years later. 2011 – President Barack Obama announced that US forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
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Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Thanks, Doug Porter, for running the video of the staging of “Mission Accomplished” that was orchestrated on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier within sight of downtown San Diego some years ago. Also thanks for the great Neil Young’s song “Shock and Awe” to remember the 2819 Americans and countless thousands of Iraqis who died in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, President Obama is again grappling with the profoundly unconstitutional indefinite detention of war prisoners at Guantanamo, Cuba, where many of them are now on a hunger strike and being force-fed through naso-gastric tubes. But there’s no end in sight for Guantanamo.
I just came home from visiting Havana, Cuba, where that impoverished country’s people continue to struggle from the effects of a punishing American embargo of pretty much everything. We tourists were told to bring tylenol and soap and diapers as goodwill tokens. No end of our embargo in sight either.
When did these things become the American “mission?” How sad is this?