Bus Passes, Library Funding and Arts Programs All Get Funded
By Doug Porter
It’s a new day in San Diego as the priorities of the Filner administration are becoming reality with the passage of the City budget for 2013-2014.
Yesterday the San Diego City Council approved a $2.75 billion budget including a $1.2 billion general fund, which pays for basic services like public safety and recreation centers. Virtually all of Mayor Filner’s proposals were endorsed.
The vote on the overall budget was 7-2, with Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Scott Sherman opposing. Faulconer complained about a ‘missed opportunity’ with the budget, objecting to an overall increase of $30 million with no cuts in ‘waste’. Sherman’s negative vote was prompted, according to news accounts, by his objections to ‘expansion of government’.
Some of the ‘small change’ items, lobbied for by various citizen groups, included in next year’s budget were:
- Funding for bus passes for disadvantaged youth. This item had been a central point in organizing for residents in the City Heights area. Residents packed an earlier council hearing, and hundreds of letters to the media were sent out in support of this proposal.
- New computers for branch libraries, along with funding for expansion of operating hours
- Additional funding for local arts programs
- A city-wide assessment of sidewalks, which has been pushed as a precursor to a comprehensive program of repair and maintenance.
The budget goes into effect on July 1st. Also included are funding for Balboa Park and the continued operation of the Emergency Homeless and the Emergency Veterans Shelters, originally scheduled to close on June 30, 2013.
Democrat Todd Gloria joined the council’s four Republicans in voting to restore cuts in funding for the City Attorney’s office. That 5-4 vote is, however, not enough to overcome an expected Mayoral veto, giving Bob Filner a small victory in his ongoing dustup with Jan Goldsmith.
Updated: Filner told KPBS on Wednesday that he wasn’t sure about vetoing the City Attorney monies. An earlier report that the City Council had overriden a mayoral veto was incorrect.
That’s the hashtag the local twitterati are using to describe Mayor Bob Filner’s frenetic schedule of appearances, press releases and actions.
** Monday morning at 7:30am hizzonor was in Balboa Park as city employees began reworking the Plaza de Panama area to eliminate parking and make it more pedestrian friendly. Despite a legal memo from Jan Goldsmith, on behalf of valet parking concerns, urging delays in the make-over the work proceeded.
** San Diego’s LGBT Weekly announced yesterday that Mayor Filner will open the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus “Summer of Love” encore gala this Saturday, June 15 at Liberty Station, Point Loma. Proceeds from the ’60s-themed event will benefit the 150-member chorus’s mission of social change through musical outreach.
**This morning the Mayor announced the appointment of Bill Fulton, a nationally recognized expert on sustainable development as the new head of the city’s planning department, which will be renamed ‘Planning and Neighborhood Restoration department’.
This is a really, really big deal. Fulton is all about smart growth, infill development and other policies that could actually turn the vision of San Diego as a ‘City of Villages’ into a reality. Oh, and rightwingnutjobs at the ‘John and Ken Show’ hate him.
From Voice of San Diego:
Fulton’s hire will also allow Filner to make good on his promise to separate the city’s planning division from the Development Services Department, after they were consolidated by Mayor Jerry Sanders. Kelly Broughton, the leader of that department, left last week and has not been replaced.
Now, development services will focus on issuing permits and enforcing code violations. Planning will evaluate the merit of major development proposals and steer the city’s long-term growth.
USA Spook-a-thon Round-up (Spy Stories)
**Booz Allen, the private firm that employed NSA files leaker Edward Snowden, announced this morning that he was terminated from company on Monday for violations of firm’s code of ethics and policy. Ya think?
** A bi-partisan coalition of 86 civil liberties organizations and Internet companies – including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks, and the American Civil Liberties Union—has sent an open letter to lawmakers, calling for a congressional investigatory committee, similar to the Church Committee of the 1970s.
The letter was accompanied by the launch of StopWatching.us, a global petition calling on Congress to provide a public accounting of the United States’ domestic spying capabilities and to bring an end to illegal surveillance.
They’re calling for a number of specific legal reforms, including reform to the controversial Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the “business records” section which, through secret court orders, was used to force Verizon to provide the NSA with detailed phone records of millions of customers. The groups are also calling on Congress to reform the FISA Amendment Act and amend the state secrets privilege, the legal tool that has expanded over the last 10 years to prevent the government from being held accountable for domestic surveillance.
**From NPR we learn that sales of George Orwell’s “1984” on Amazon.com have jumped 6,021 per cent over the past day.
As NPR’s Alan Greenblatt recently pointed out, many people have found uncomfortable resonances between Orwell’s “Big Brother” state and the news that broke last week of U.S. government surveillance programs.
Another Panama Canal
Yup, it’s gonna happen. While we’ve all been starting at our navels wondering about the National Security Agency leaks, the Chinese have been playing let’s make a deal in Latin America. From The Guardian:
A Nicaraguan congressional committee has approved giving a China-based consortium the concession to build and operate a canal between the Pacific and Caribbean, fast-tracking the huge development project despite objections from the opposition.
The infrastructure committee president, Jenny Martínez, said the bill had immediately been sent to the National Assembly, which is expected to approve it on Thursday. President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista Front controls the national legislature with 63 out of 92 politicians.
The Chinese company, HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment, is working with the Nicaraguan government on the canal project, which was announced last week. Experts say it may take 11 years to finish, cost $40bn and require the digging of about 130 miles (200km) of waterway.
The perverse world described in the story Alice in Wonderland is an apt metaphor for our local taxi industry.
Drivers work long hours, earning a median wage of $4.45 per hour (including tips), according to a recent study by San Diego State University and the Center on Policy Initiatives. Safety and cost considerations are apparently secondary to supporting a black market whereby publicly issued ‘taxi permits’ are re-sold for huge profits and drivers can pay $7000 upfront, plus a stiff monthly fee to permit holders.
A KPBS/inewsource investigation is currently examining the taxi business in San Diego. Here’s a snippet:
Fred, who is short, 40ish and East African, makes a lot of money in the taxi business in San Diego. And it’s not just from driving a cab.
He’s exploited what Mayor Bob Filner calls the “black market” in taxi permits: buying and selling these coveted licenses several times over. He said he’s made tens of thousands of dollars over the past 10 years from would-be drivers, mostly from immigrants like himself.
“Sometimes, you buy $90,000, you sell it in one month and extra $40,000 profit you make,” Fred said. “I made a lot of money. I didn’t pay tax.”
Mayor Filner, and councilwoman Marty Emerald are proposing to overhaul regulation of the industry. Hopefully, this series will give additional impetus to their efforts, if for no other reason, this quote about drivers from Alfredo Hueso, a partial owner of USA Cab in San Diego, and brother of State Senator Ben Hueso:
“They’re the ones that chose the profession,” Hueso said. “Nobody forces them into bondage.”
Homecare Advocates to County Supes: Put People First
Civil rights, labor, and faith leaders will join with homecare workers and recipients on Wednesday morning (June 12th) at the County Administration Building to demonstrate for more funding to support in home care in San Diego.
Speakers will start at 9am, urging support for a homecare program that saves taxpayers money, helps the local economy and provides needed care to our most vulnerable citizens. Community caregivers make less than $10 an hour and haven’t seen a raise since 2009.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors controls the purse strings for health and welfare programs throughout the county. For further information, contact: Allison Padgett at (619) 302-8752.
Golden Hill and Barrio Logan Meetings Worth Knowing About
The biggest deal facing residents of Golden Hill in the near future will be the expansion (and hopefully re-landscaping) of State Highway 94. It’s not a matter of when; it’s going to happen. Residents are hoping to have a positive influence on this major project, and the Greater Golden Hill Planning Committee (GGHPC) will be these plans on Wednesday, June 12, 6:30 PM, at the Balboa Park Golf Course Clubhouse.
The Downtown San Diego Partnership is hosting a town hall for Barrio Logan/Logan Heights residents on June 19th (Wednesday) to get input on development issues. The gathering will be at the Logan Heights Library, 567 South 28th Street, starting at 6pm. For questions—or to get involved—please contact Staci Ignell, Director of External Affairs for the Downtown San Diego Partnership, at (619) 234-0201 firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1963 – Alabama Gov. George Wallace allowed two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama after President Kennedy federalized the National Guard. 1966 – Janis Joplin debuted on stage at the Avalon ballroom in San Francisco. 1981 – The first major league baseball player’s strike began. It would last for two months.
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