By Doug Porter
Perhaps the most outrageous of the arrests made two years ago at the height of San Diego’s Occupy Movement was that of Ray Lutz, activist and former Congressional Candidate. On Nov 29, 2011, he was arrested for attempting to register voters in the Civic Center Plaza, adjacent to City Hall. (You can watch a video of the arrest here.)
Lutz sued the City of San Diego, along with the property management company (CBRE Group) and the private security contractor (ABM Security) who ordered a citizen’s arrest for trespassing. All the parties have now agreed to a mediated settlement conducted by Hon. Judge David H. Bartick, in Federal Court.
Part of the deal involves scheduling a public hearing of the grievances involved, which will occur on Tuesday, December 10th at a session of San Diego City Council. The rest of settlement has already been approved by the City in closed session.
Lutz is encouraging all persons who support the right to peaceful political activity, such as registering voters, in the public square of San Diego, to appear and voice their support of the settlement, as well as to voice any concerns regarding the disgusting abuse of recent invalid arrests or other actions by the San Diego Police Department.
During the Occupy demonstrations authorities used the “encroachment law”, Municipal code § 54.0110, which was originally designed to stop construction of dumpster bays in alleyways, to disallow placing anything down on city property , including chairs, U.S. Flags, and even a Christmas tree to limit activities in the public areas surrounding city Hall.
Although Lutz’s attempt to register voters in the Civic Center Plaza was near the area where Occupy San Diego established an encampment during October 2011, his actions to register voters were not endorsed by Occupy San Diego, but were sponsored by Citizens Oversight, a 501c3 organization that encourages civic engagement.
From the press release announcing the settlement:
This case further underlines the misuse of power by the City and DA, citing memories of Jeff Olson’s “sidewalk chalker” attempted prosecution and felony charges against the O.B. resident who trimmed some bushes, which were dropped after intense public scrutiny.
“We want to make sure this never happens again. Apparently, taking them to court is just about the only way to get anyone’s attention,” Lutz said. “We tried to have the city listen to our concerns about improper arrests in the Civic Center Plaza area long ago. Finally, we have their attention, and time in the schedule of the City Council meeting to allow our voices to be heard.”
One provision in the settlement requires that the city expunge the arrest from Lutz’s record, and this has already been completed.
The Ultimate in GOP Spin on the Mayor’s Race
For those of you who may have missed it, the first public opinion poll of the second phase of San Diego mayoral contest was released over the weekend. It was originally embargoed for Sunday release so that sponsor UT-San Diego could benefit from the headline, but was popping up all over twitter on Saturday.
The UT-San Diego/News 10 poll showed candidates Faulconer and Alvarez in a dead heat (47-46%). This wasn’t great news for GOP bossman Tony Krvaric and his Lincoln Club cronies after they’d dumped over a million dollars into a campaign disparaging Democrat Nathan Fletcher under the assumption that David Alvraez was a weaker candidate.
The real takeaway from the poll results was that since the mayoral primary Kevin Faulconer had gained 5% with voters while David Alvarez’s numbers had increased by 19%. It’s early in the campaign for polling numbers to be taken too seriously—after all early polling in the last contest showed Fletcher leading the pack—but this isn’t the kind of momentum that Walmart, Papa Doug Manchester and other big donors were hoping for.
Rubin Barrales, who now heads up the Republican GROW effort to scare up a few Latino voters for the Party, used in his experience in fighting losing battles to put a positive spin on the survey by adding those numbers together with Nov. 19th’s results and dividing by two to come up with an “average” number to Tweet out to loyalists:
— Ruben Barrales (@RubenBarrales) December 8, 2013
Ah, Republi-math… It’s always good for a laugh.
2014, Here We Come
The Los Angeles Times ran with an article over the weekend giving a preview of the kinds of initiatives we can expect to see on the ballot in November 2014.
While much of the country is gearing up for the holidays, political forces in Sacramento are girding for battle.
Already, special interests are lined up with plans that could shape next year’s general election ballot. They are considering propositions to increase medical malpractice awards, hike tobacco taxes and give local governments the right to scale back public employee pensions, among other ideas.
Each of the proposals could spawn campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars. Decisions about whether to proceed will be made in the next couple of weeks as de facto deadlines loom.
Not mentioned in the story is the GOP sponsored measure to change the way California’s electoral votes in Presidential elections are allocated to allow the percentage of votes won by each candidate to determine the number of electors. Republicans are only sponsoring these initiatives in “Blue” (i.e., Democratic leaning) states around the country. “Red” (i.e., Republican) states would be free to awards all their votes to GOP candidates.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus endorsed the same election-rigging scheme last January, explaining that he thinks “it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at.”
Calling Congressman Darrell Issa: Here’s Something for Your Committee
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an explosive report over the weekend, documenting widespread use by Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco (ATF) agents of mentally challenged and even brain damaged people in undercover operations.
The Journal Sentinel reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports and other documents and interviewed dozens of people involved in six ATF operations nationwide that were publicly praised by the ATF in recent years for nabbing violent criminals and making cities safer.
Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employed rogue tactics similar to those used in Milwaukee in every operation, from Portland, Ore., to Pensacola, Fla.
After recruiting a man with an IQ estimated to be in the low 50’s, the Feds prosecuted him for carrying out acts they tasked him with after befriending him.
He was sentenced to three years in prison. The judge told him he was getting a big break because he could have gotten 10 to 12 years.
Advocates for the developmentally disabled called the ATF’s tactics disturbing.
The story goes beyond the AFT’s exploiting the disabled. You should read it. The Journal-Sentinel, in my opinion, deserves a Pulitzer Prize for this investigation.
I wonder if Rep. Darrell Issa (Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!) can be bothered to look into it?
Some Kind of “Bah, Humbug!” Budget Deal
The Washington Post and other news outlets are running with a story trumpeting the imminent possibility of a pre-Christmas budget deal being negotiated behind closed doors by Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray.
Reportedly the deal involves rolling back some of the sequestration deal that went into effort last March and avoiding a mid-winter government shutdown. What’s being left out the compromise, at least for now, is an extension of unemployment benefits for over a million people.
Here’s Paul Krugman on this latest bit of GOP Humbug:
Six years have passed since the United States economy entered the Great Recession, four and a half since it officially began to recover, but long-term unemployment remains disastrously high. And Republicans have a theory about why this is happening. Their theory is, as it happens, completely wrong. But they’re sticking to it — and as a result, 1.3 million American workers, many of them in desperate financial straits, are set to lose unemployment benefits at the end of December.
Now, the G.O.P.’s desire to punish the unemployed doesn’t arise solely from bad economics; it’s part of a general pattern of afflicting the afflicted while comforting the comfortable (no to food stamps, yes to farm subsidies). But ideas do matter — as John Maynard Keynes famously wrote, they are “dangerous for good or evil.” And the case of unemployment benefits is an especially clear example of superficially plausible but wrong economic ideas being dangerous for evil.
Another Mysterious Border Confrontation
The Reader continues to follow unexplained confrontations occurring at the Tijuana River channel between large groups of would-be immigrants and US Border Patrol agents. Incident number two occurred last Thursday, as “about 70 demonstrators in Tijuana blocked northbound traffic lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, then climbed into the concrete channel to join another 100 people there to march toward the U.S..”
As with the previous incident on November 24th they retreated after confronting authorities. This time around it was Mexican police; last time Border Agents used pepperballs and tear gas.
The story cites immigrant-rights activist Enrique Morones Border Patrol union spokesman Gabe Pacheco as both being concerned these confrontation are being set up by a group of film makers hoping to get explosive footage for a documentary.
“People who are crossing, they have backpacks and stuff they bring when they intend to stay. The video shows a few with day-packs, but you don’t see them equipped the way people are when they mean to cross,” he said. Like Morones, Pacheco believes it was a provocation, not a “banzai run.” He also doesn’t believe they were just channel-dwellers.
“Our agents know the people who live in the channel, the channel regulars, the ones who are there getting high,” Pacheco said. “There were guys who had shirts and ties, people we’ve never seen before.
“They were out to make a name for themselves by putting vulnerable people in a situation where they could very well have been shot,” Morones said. “Someone should go to jail for that.”
War on Christmas Update: Playing the Hitler Card
American Family Association head Tim Wildmon joined AFA radio host Sandy Rios today to discuss a USA Today article about how “Not all Christians believe there is a ‘War on Christmas.’” Wildmon spent most of the interview complaining that any Christian would dare criticize the AFA, which is a leading voice in movement to expose the “War on Christmas.” He told Rios that he resented Christian leaders who mock the idea of the War on Christmas or note that the AFA’s campaign actually emphasizes the material aspect of the holiday by focusing on how many stores tell customers “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”
Wildmon accused one pastor, who told USA Today that Christians needed to come to grips with the religious diversity in the US, of wanting Christians to partake in “a dangerous retreat into isolating ourselves from the larger culture.”
“This is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany,” Rios said. She went on to compare the supposed War on Christmas to religious oppression in the Soviet Union and North Korea.
“I don’t think this pastor understands and I don’t think people understand what is going on in the world,” she said. “They don’t have a large enough world. Their world is too small and so they don’t understand the dangers.”
Not So Good Headline Watch
From USA Today:
Mandela’s death likely to boost South African tourism
(h/t Bob Dorn)
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, 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 1793 – “The American Minerva” was published for the first time. It was the first daily newspaper in New York City and was founded by Noah Webster. 1958 – In Indianapolis, IN, Robert H.W. Welch Jr. and 11 other men met to form the anti-Communist John Birch Society. 1978 – “Soul Man,” John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s version, was released under the name, “The Blues Brothers.”
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