By Doug Porter
“The fish stinks from the head” is an old Turkish metaphor used to attribute poor leadership as the cause for dysfunctional enterprises.
News accounts from the past 24 hours about San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) speak to seriously misplaced priorities, along with racism and sexism in both organizations.
In today’s UT-San Diego there is a story detailing how officials with the Metropolitan Transit System have declined to offer discounts for low income students. A pilot program, funded by both the school district and the City Council will now be cut by more than half.
In 2012 students, educators and community members from City Heights and other inner city neighborhoods began organizing around challenges faced by young people in getting to school. Traditional school bussing systems have seen severe cut backs in recent years as officials have recast budgets to focus on delivering a dwindling number of dollars to the classrooms.
Students petitioned both the City Council and the School Board, attended meetings held by both organizations and won the support of local officials. What should have been a story of empowerment is now about how an arrogant bureaucracy can undo peaceful and legal efforts at change with the mere stroke of a pen.
It’s ironic that a spokesman for the organization justifies the decision based on “policy” when MTS Board of Directors includes iMayor Todd Gloria, City Council members David Alvarez, Lorie Zapf and Marti Emerald and Supervisor Ron Roberts.
Yesterday reporter Brad Racino at inewsource/KPBS broke a major story about sex and age bias in employment policies within the North County Transit District. His account starts with a discrimination law suit unearthing a constant practice of terminating employment by women in management over 40 years of age and replacing them with much younger women.
And it goes downhill from there. There are charts showing pictures of the women who’ve been cast aside by the agency right next to pictures of recent hires. The kicker about the NCTS story is that executive director Matthew Tucker is at the heart of it. This is just the latest in a series of exposèsabout the agency, all of which point to… a very stinky bunch of fish heads.
Sleazy Mailer Backers Get Funding From Walmart, Sempra
The Lincoln Club’s direct mail campaign aimed at undermining mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher continues unabated as mail in ballots for San Diegans are arriving this week.
Matt Potter over at the Reader has been watching the money flowing into this effort by the conservative business group aimed at knocking Fletcher out in the primary in favor of Councilman David Alvarez, who they believe would be an easier target for their guy Kevin Faulconer. (Who, of course, knows nothing about this campaign.)
In addition to large donations from Papa Doug Manchester and La Jolla real estate mogul Thomas Sudberry Jr, Walmart recently kicked in $10,000 and Sempra Energy (parent company of SDG&E) gave a more modest $1250.
According to inewsource donations to candidates (not including “independent” efforts like the Lincoln Club) stand at: Alvarez- $1,100,000+, Fletcher $950,000+, Faulconer $800,000+ and Aguirrre $3225.
Carl DeMaio’s Health Insurance Blues
Millionaire congressional candidate Carl DeMaio shared his tale of ObamaCare woe yesterday via Twitter.
He is shocked!, mind you shocked!, that as a young wealthy man his insurance rates are jumping by $42 monthly next year.
I guess we’re all supposed to run out and support the “use the emergency room, suckers” program his Republican Party espouses.
We doubt he’s discovered his insurance will now include mental health services, should he find all this ObamaCare stuff too depressing. Just saying….
A 24% hike in my health care premiums this year, and likely another 35% the year after? Wow. What have you seen? pic.twitter.com/aK4nzIeDth
— Carl DeMaio (@carldemaio) October 23, 2013
Dark Money’s Dark Day in California
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has, according to the LA Times, reached a settlement regarding a controversial $11-million donation from an obscure Arizona nonprofit in last years campaigns.
From the Times account:
A source with knowledge of the case said the settlement will involve two organizations — Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights. The latter group has functioned like a clearinghouse for conservation political donations and has been linked to Charles and David Koch, billionaire Republican donors.
The two nonprofits will face a combined $1 million fine, according to the source, who requested anonymity to discuss the case before Thursday’s announcement…
…The $11-million donation was given to the Small Business Action Committee, a California political organization, by Americans for Responsible Leadership, a nonprofit in Arizona, in October 2012. The money was provided to fight Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike plan and support another measure intended to weaken unions’ political influence.
Pepper Spray College Cop Gets Workman’s Comp
UC Davis campus cop John Pike became famous world wide following the publication of video and photographs depicting him liberally dousing protesters with pepper spray two years ago.
The Associated Press is reporting Pike has been awarded $38,000 in workman’s comp because:
The 40-year-old former officer said he suffered depression and anxiety after death threats were sent to him and his family over the Nov. 18, 2011 event.
In January of this year, UC Davis agreed to pay $1 million to settle a federal suit in which 21 plaintiffs who were sprayed or arrested each received $30,000. Another 15, who had claims relating to the altercation were to be paid $6,666. At over $38,000, Pike is now to be paid a larger settlement than any of the students injured or traumatized while protesting peacefully.
Pike was fired in July of 2012, following eight months of paid administrative leave. During that time, different investigations were launched in an effort to conclude whether Pike’s actions—discharging large amounts of pepper-spray into the faces of a group of quietly seated students, arms locked in peaceful protest—was valid.
Prison Officials Stung by Pepper Spray Rulings
California correctional department officials have told a federal judge that they are working on new rules concerning the use of pepper spray following disclosure of videotapes of guards abusing prisoners with the crowd control substance.
From the LA Times:
In testimony Wednesday before a federal judge, the state official in charge of adult prisons said he sought the changes in part because of videotapes showing half a dozen inmates — some naked and screaming for help — being repeatedly sprayed with large amounts of pepper spray…
…The announcement coincides with a ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton requiring the state to produce public copies of the videotapes, which show six mentally ill prisoners in four state prisons being pepper sprayed after refusing to be handcuffed for removal from their cells. The tapes have been played in federal court but kept under seal, as lawyers for California prisoners have sought curtailment of pepper spray use on the mentally ill.
In episodes that last as long as half an hour, guards are seen repeatedly pepper spraying the prisoners, sometimes at close range. In some of those cases, it appears the screaming prisoners do not understand repeated orders.
Government Health Care Program “Glitches” Revisted
From Think Progress:
Millions of Americans try to enroll in health care benefits during the first days of a new government health care program. They rely on indispensable government website that had been “pitched as a high-tech way” to sort through available coverage options. They’re encountering countless glitches and technical errors: the website freezes, displays incorrect plan information and sends insurers erroneous reports.
Administration officials — clearly caught off guard by the surge of technical difficulties — respond to “tens of thousands of complaints” from angry beneficiaries and promise to “fix every problem as quickly possible.”
This sounds like the familiar story of the last few days of the Obama administration’s rollout of the exchanges. But, actually, those quotes, and that scenario, are taken from the Bush administration’s efforts to implement the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2005 and 2006.
On This Day: 1962 – During the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. military forces went on the highest alert in the postwar era in preparation for a possible full-scale war with the Soviet Union. The U.S. blockade of Cuba officially began on this day. 1970 – President Richard Nixon appealed to radio broadcasters to screen songs with lyrics that urge drug use. 1989 – Reverend Jim Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $500,000 for his conviction on 24 counts of fraud. In 1991, his sentence was reduced to eighteen years and he was released on parole after a total five years in prison.
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Anna Daniels says
This was more stink that I can handle at one sitting. The MTS position on the free student bus pass pilot program is unconscionable. NCT”s Matthew Tucker needs to be sent to the Time Out Room until further notice. Behold the stuff of public transit in our city and county. Neither of their boards includes a citizen transit user.
I long for the days of roly poly fish heads–eat ’em up, yum.
John Lawrence says
Was that Alvin and the Chipmunks doing the singing, branching out?
bob dorn says
Gasp! This Starting Line hits the gut like a Year’s Ten Worst List of misdeeds and outrages.
The guy with a gun gets a larger disability award for mental suffering than do the people who were injured by his rampant pepper spraying. A bus service won’t subsidize poverty level students even though the money’s there. Walmart enters local politics with a $10,000 grant to impoverished (morally?) Republicans. Women over the age of 40 will be let go by public funded transit monsters.
All you can do, Americans, is treat each other kindly in the face of all this inhumanity.
John Lawrence says
And to think Bob Filner just grabbed their butts. He didn’t lay them off and hire cuter ones.
The question I have is what exactly is the policy that providing the bus passes violate? Did the author of the UT article even bother to ask?
Doug Porter says
Here’s what the UT says:
The original concept, backed by the school board in April, would have offered 2,200 bus passes to inner-city children — 1,000 passes to cover the academic year for high school students, 1,000 15-day passes for high school students and 200 15-day and 30-day passes for elementary and middle school students. Those figures were contingent on MTS charging the bulk discounted rate it uses for other bulk-pass buyers.
MTS ultimately decided not to grant the discounted rate of $30.60 because that markdown would violate the agency’s policy, said spokesman Rob Schupp. So San Diego Unified will pay the regular youth rate of $36 per monthly pass.
So the answer is…because we can.
I guess I didn’t quite catch the bulk thing being the policcy. Either way Sad.
So Porter gets 8 months of paid ADMIN leave and ultimately gets 38 thousand dollars workman’s comp even though he was fired for abuse of power? While it’s never ok under any circumstances for anyone to make death threats to anyone else including the family members of the target (if that even really happened), but he brought that on himself. In the mean time we have veterans with limbs missing, body disfigurements, and probably more mental stress and depression than this loser could ever have, and they are out on the streets homeless.
Doug Porter says
I’m Porter. The cop’s name is John Pike.
I live in San Diego. He lives in Davis.
I watch Star Trek regularly. He’s got a problem with pepper spray.
I enjoy my insanity. He suffers from it.
Oops. Sorrty about that Doug (very embarrassed I’ve met twice). I meant to say Pike. Please feel free to correct my typo.