By Doug Porter
It was another bad day for the San Diego Police Department. A group calling itself FED UP-San Diegans Against Police Sexual Misconduct held a morning press conference in front of the Hall of Justice demanding accountability for the repeated sexual assaults by SDPD officers.
Holding up signs that said “I am Jane Doe,” referring to the a victim currently battling the city in court demanding an outside monitor for the SDPD, the group demanded sweeping changes within the department.
And then the Washington Post posted a story –originally reported on Saturday by ABC 10News— about a police department raid on a local strip club. Ten armed officers wearing bulletproof vests closed down the Cheetah Club, located in Kearny Mesa on Thursday night. In addition to checking for permits, the officers lined up the women working at the club and photographed them in their semi-nude attire.
San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer released the following statement to 10News:
“One of the many responsibilities of the San Diego Police Department’s Vice Unit is to conduct random inspections of strip clubs to ensure dancers are complying with the law and that they have an entertainers permit. In most cases, Vice Unit detectives do not require or request clubs to shut down. Photographs of the entertainers permit and the person in possession of it are taken for investigative purposes.”
From the Washington Post blog:
So this was a regulatory operation. But instead of sending a few bureaucrats to do the paperwork, the city of San Diego thought it appropriate to send a team of gun-toting cops to raid the place (similar to recent masked, militarized SWAT raids on massage parlors). Remember, according to the report, there was no suspicion of criminal activity here. This was a routine inspection. Which raises the question: Are all routine, regulatory inspections of San Diego businesses done with raid teams? Is it just strip clubs? Are strippers known for being dangerous? And if the photos were necessary for record-keeping purposes, why was it necessary to photograph the women while they weren’t wearing clothing?
Was there a connection between the SDPD raid and recent incidents of sexual misconduct? I honestly don’t know. The “Adult Entertainment” business isn’t exactly known for its high ethical standards, as three former City Councilmen (only one was convicted) found out back in the days of the Cheetah club’s original owner.
It sounds to me as though it could just as likely be a case of a club owner being late in paying his “dues.” Regardless, it’s yet another nationally embarrassing incident for San Diego.
Bring Them Home Protest in Otay Mesa
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance staged their third “Bring Them Home” protest at the border yesterday, with hundred of supporters on each side of the fence cheering on dozens of deported young people attempting to re-enter the US.
Wearing brightly colored graduation caps and gowns, the migrants marched several blocks through Tijuana, chanting the names of the states they’d been deported from: “Texas,” ”California,” ”Arizona” and “Carolina.”
Similar protests last year in Arizona and Texas featured smaller numbers of demonstrators showing up and claiming asylum at border stations. This demonstration was not connected, as some media outlets tried to imply, with attempts by loosely organized groups to storm across the border last fall that turned violent.
From the Associated Press account:
People who claim asylum are interviewed by authorities to determine if their claims are credible, then either released or held in custody pending the outcome of cases. To be granted asylum, an immigration judge must find that an applicant suffered persecution or has a well-grounded fear of persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said privacy laws prohibit the agency from saying what happened to those who tried to enter the country Monday.
The protesters call themselves “dreamers,” after the Dream Act, failed legislation to allow some young immigrants to stay in the country. In 2012, the Obama administration announced regulations that allowed some young people to stay with two-year renewable permits and authorization to work.
County Fair Elephant Rides: Unsafe at Any Speed?
The controversial elephant ride provider for the San Diego County Fair has opted to drop its certification by Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), according to a press release from animal welfare advocates.
The Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) says the Have Trunk Will Travel company is now claiming the accreditation by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA). Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States, has called out ZAA as “an animal-owners rights association masquerading as a legitimate enterprise.”
The press release states that the San Diego County Fair Board has indicated it will allow the elephant rides to continue this year, despite known risks to handlers and the public.
“In light of this disturbing new information that directly affects human safety, the San Diego County Fair Board should take immediate action to end the elephant rides,” said Ed Stewart, president of the California-based Performing Animal Welfare Society and a former Hollywood animal trainer with more than 30 years experience caring for elephants.
Stewart continued, “The elephants giving rides at the San Diego County Fair are wild animals who have been brutally broken and trained through pain and fear. Using them for rides is an accident waiting to happen….”
…The Fair Board became the center of controversy in 2011 following the release of a videotape showing Have Trunk Will Travel staff, including one of the owners, viciously striking elephants with a spike-tipped club called a bullhook and using electric shock to force an elephant to perform a trick. The board approved the elephant rides contract but vowed to revisit the issue in 2014, when the AZA safety policy goes into effect. At a February meeting, the board stated it would allow the rides to continue this year and then reconsider the contract.
And just to keep things interesting, here’s an item from this morning’s Los Angeles Times:
Elephants may be known for their memory, but it turns out they’re incredible listeners, too. African elephants who hear human voices can tell people of different sexes, ages and even ethnic groups apart, according to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Such keen ears are necessary when trying to survive in territory marked by human-elephant conflict.
Transparency, San Diego Style – Red Cross, Civic San Diego & Balboa Park
Three widely differing incidents over the past day speak to the tumult existing in America’s Finest City these days.
American Red Cross chapter CEO Tony Young resigned over the weekend and nobody was quite sure why. He’d left his position as president of the City Council fourteen months ago to work for the Red Cross (a much better paying job).
UT-San Diego reports today that three additional board members of the local Red Cross chapter have also resigned, quoting Rudolph Johnson III, president of the Neighborhood House Association saying, “ “It was an integrity issue issue for me” Quite frankly, there wasn’t enough information, in my opinion, that was being provided to the advisory board for me to stay on going forward.”
Civic San Diego, the successor agency in charge of redevelopment issues downtown and elsewhere following Gov. Brown’s pulling the plug on more than 400 redevelopment agencies, has an opening. Jeff Graham, president of the group, has resigned, effective last week.
What makes this newsworthy is that the group has decided to hold a public hearing to review the position description and the selection process. A special Board of Directors meeting has been called for Wednesday, March 12, at 10:45 am at 401 B Street, Suite 400, San Diego, CA 92101
The Balboa Park Celebration folks released a financial report yesterday, including a listing of vendor payments. This document’s going to take a lot of digesting as it doesn’t indicate the true nature of these vendors relationships with BPCI, their board of directors and (ta-da!) the Sanders administration.
UT-San Diego’s editorial board wasn’t amused:
Records released late last week show that the troubled group wasn’t just bad at lining up sponsors for the event. As its original public funding dwindled from $2.8 million to $553,000, the group appeared to spend freely with little oversight or accountability on matters big and small.
A company called Loma Media was given $37,000-plus a month to provide digital media management and other services. That’s a lot of money in any circumstance. But given the routine content available online at the website set up by Balboa Planning Celebration, it’s unfathomable. Programming and sponsor-hunt consultants also got $22,500 and $10,000 a month, respectively, with little evidence of hard results.
Then there’s the petty spending practices of Julie Dubick — the former $15,000-a-month leader of Balboa Park Celebration effort. She treated vendors — not potential sponsors — to fancy meetings at costly restaurants instead of meeting them at her office.
This shows contempt for propriety. It is not how someone running a nonprofit organization funded with public dollars should behave. Too bad the group didn’t disband long before these abuses occurred.
Here’s an additional cringeworthy bit – a video released on December 19th, featuring iMayor Todd Gloria, along with city councilman Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez. It should have been obvious–to Gloria at least–by that time things weren’t going too well.
On This Day: 1907 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt induced California to revoke its anti-Japanese legislation. 1969 – Levi-Strauss started selling bell-bottomed jeans. 1997 – Paul McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
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