The Watchdog Yips at the New Public Library
By Doug Porter
It really is true that no stone can be left unturned in UT-San Diego’s quest to denigrate Mayor Bob Filner. This week’s “Watchdog” example involves a reporter with a questionable background, a moving company and an abysmal level of ignorance on the subject of libraries.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with such things, the main branch of San Diego’s Public Library is moving into a new building. Not only are collections and reference materials long-buried in the bowels of the old building being cleaned up and rediscovered, additional genealogy collections from archives throughout the region are being merged into the new facility.
Moving the contents of the old location into the new digs is a huge task, and it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a company specializing in such tasks was retained to handle the job. After all, you wouldn’t want two guys and a moving van moving a collection that includes thousands of rare resource materials, many of them unique to the region.
There are less than two dozen companies in the US recognized by the American Library Association for their expertise. The librarian’s internet resource, Libraryworks.com lists only ten such companies. And the Library Resource Guide, published by the American Library Guide only lists two companies. None of those companies, by the way, are located in San Diego.
So the UT-San Diego story, entitled “Library Move a $450K Haul for Chicago Firm”, starts off interviewing Valarie Brocato, employed by Hallett movers (Listed in all three guides) to oversee the relocation of 1.2 million items. She tries to explain to the reporter the value of the service her company provides and the need for such a specialized service.
And then we get to the heart of the matter. Hallett movers is from, gasp, Chicago. People flew in for the job.
About half their crew is staying at the Town and Country, a Mission Valley “Resort” with “swimming pools, a spa and a white linen restaurant”.
In reality it’s a sixty year old facility, rated 2 Stars on Yelp, 3 Stars on Google Hotels , and 3.5 Stars on Expedia that gets plenty of it’s business via last minute Priceline type bookings and the convention facilities it offers. Not a dump, but certainly not likely to be an overpriced burden on taxpayers, either.
“There’s no one in town involved with that move” says an executive of a local moving company (that didn’t bid on the job) in the UT story. “People are stunned”. The on-line (but not the print version) of the story goes on to inform us that his company didn’t bid on the job because “127 pages of bid specifications were onerous”.
Although the reporter didn’t have records of the bidding process for the story (they’ve asked) and Mayor Filner’s representatives did not answer questions about why the hired the company, it’s clearly inferred this whole moving deal is supposed to be an affront to taxpayers and a waste of money.
Given that the library move has been in the planning stages for years, it’s entirely possible that all or part of the bidding process occurred during the previous administration.
The bidding was back in January. Here’s Matt Potter’s article. You’d think that a reporter would want to know that kind of stuff before publishing a story.
Lest there be any doubt about the intent of the story, there’s this Tweet from UT-SD:
Rather than hire locals, San Diego is hosting out-of-state workers (at the Town & Country) for move into new library
Waaay down in the story is also the inconvenient fact that 25 of the workers involved in the move are “local students and library experts”.
Profiling Manchester’s Minion
UT-San Diego reporter Trent Seibert, the author of this latest spin, has a quite a history, one worth sharing as we look at the reasoning behind this latest example of the “Watchdog”.
Prior to his move to San Diego, Seibert was editor of “Texas Watchdog”. From his UT bio:
Trent Seibert was the founder and editor of Texas Watchdog, a Houston-based nonprofit news organization featured by Time magazine for its “feisty investigations.” Under his leadership, the group won many state and national awards, including best investigative work on a digital platform from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers…
This outfit was considered by many in the Lone Star state to be little more than a right wing spin machine, to the point where progressives started a website called WatchTheWatchdog.com.
When they filed papers of incorporation on July 28, 2008, the listed address was 5300 Memorial, Suite 1070 –the same office as Denis Calabrese’s Patriot Group.
The Patriot Group claims to be a conservative organization – but they are no grassroots operation. The Patriot Group represents a who’s who of the entrenched establishment: Texans for Lawsuit Reform, mega-builder Bob Perry of Perry Homes and even a company that produces fuel supply additives. Watchdog now shares an office with the so-called “Texans for Ethics & Accountability,” an organization whose main purpose appears to be filing complaints with the Texas Ethics Commission against the Patriot Group’s enemies – including HillCo Partners, a rival Republican-leaning lobbying firm.
In addition to their questionable origin, Texas Watchdog is run Editor Trent Siebert. You’ve probably never heard of Siebert – but if you were from Colorado, you might have. You see, before coming to Texas to pollute our state with false attacks, Siebert had a reputation as one of the worst journalists in Colorado as a writer for the Denver Post.
That statement might sound like sour political grapes, until you try to visit the now defunct Texas Watchdog site. A “Farewell Story” from Trent Siebert tops the page, letting us know that the operation has closed because:
…a key donor for our operation in 2012, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, announced last year they would not be supporting independent journalism operations in 2013.
Looking into the Franklin Center, we find they co-sponsored programs with the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and James O’Keefe. (Who recent paid out $100,000 to settle false claims he made about the National City branch of ACORN).
Looking deeper we find funding from the Sam Adams Alliance, a group most famous for its ObamaScare campaign via a project titled “Health Administration Bureau,” featuring the video, “Health Rations And You:
The deeper you dig, the more you find connections to the Koch Brothers here. Suffice it to say that Siebert would make a fine addition to SDRostra. His history certainly gives plenty of reasons to question the motivations he has in writing any story about politics for any organization. Perhaps the reports of his overt hostility at past Mayoral press conferences might offer a clue…
Judicial Misconduct for #Chalkgate Judge?
That’s what lawyer Mary Francis Prevost is talking about over at the California Criminal Lawyer Blog.
…my first installment of “Bullies on the Bench” is dedicated to none other than Judge Howard Shore, a man who gleefully and unlawfully has repeatedly suspended the rights of criminal defendants and figuratively burned the Constitution along the way.
I recall many years ago sitting in chambers with Judge Shore as he railed against an activist judge who was recently reversed for failing to follow legal precedent. The gist of his remarks was, “Any jurist who refuses to follow precedent should be removed.” Oh, the horror of it. He was quite outraged. He was insulted. He was disgusted. In fact, the only reason I remember this now is because he was so weirdly and annoyingly apoplectic about it. You see, all of us in chambers had to get to other court appearances and we were desperately hoping he’d finish gassing on about this sooner rather than later so we could get on our way.
We now know that Judge Shore‘s disgust of such judicial activism does not apply when he is the perpetrator.
Oh, I’m sure Judge Shore will have some excuse. It will be wrong, of course. It will be self serving, of course. He will stick to it. He will continue to be his captious, condescending and rude self, as he always is to San Diego criminal defense lawyers.
I can only hope that Jeff Olson and his attorney file complaints to the Commission on Judicial Performance so someone other than those 12 ethical jurors can send a message to Judge Shore: Follow the law, or you’re gone.
News That You Shouldn’t Miss
From the New York Times comes more bad news about the ‘safeguards’ supposedly built into our national security / spying operations:
In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving theNational Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.
The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.
In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.
The Times is also reporting today that the Electronic Privacy Information Center is filing an emergency petition with the Supreme Court in an attempt to end National Security Agency collection of domestic phone records. Via The Hill:
…the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding the NSA program requires an immediate response from the nation’s highest court.
EPIC argued that it can’t go the traditional route through the court system because the lower courts have no authority over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which monitors the NSA programs.
A handful of other law suits were filed in the aftermath of the NSA revelations, but EPIC’s executive director, Marc Rotenberg, told the Times that his group’s petition would be the first to challenge the FISA court’s ability to approve NSA requests to collect phone record data under the Patriot Act.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day 1889 – John L. Sullivan defeated Jake Kilrain, in the last championship bare-knuckle fight. The fight lasted 75 rounds. 1958 – The first gold record album was presented by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The award went to the soundtrack “Oklahoma!” 1969 – The U.S. Patent Office issued a patent for the game “Twister.”
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