By Doug Porter
Activist David Lundin and others were in attendance last night at the Balboa Park Committee Board meeting ready to ask serious questions about the Balboa Park Conservancy, the group now charged by the City of San Diego with trying to salvage the 2015 Centennial Celebration.
Responding to charges made earlier that the Conservancy was violating its own charter by failing to have two annual public meetings, the group claimed their reports made in meetings of the Balboa Park Committee fulfilled the requirement.
Alas, hopes for a window into the Conservancy’s inner working were dashed last night as, for the first time in more than seven years, the meeting was cancelled in its entirety because quorum of the Balboa Park Committee Board failed to appear.
After a 30 minute wait the Board chair announced the cancellation, saying it was “illegal to open the meeting, even for informational or no-action items.”
Lundlin later posted this note on Facebook:
Coincidence ? Or a well-planned effort to silence critics ? I take no credit [or blame] for this, but others in the audience for the meeting raised the issue. NOTHING surprises me anymore.
I am so sorry for the great friends who came to speak, to ask questions and to be of support. All for naught.
Feds Cry Foul Over Dumanis Funding Advocacy Group
Assets seized in federal criminal cases were improperly spent by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, according to a Justice Department audit reported on in today’s UT-San Diego.
At issue are $29,400 in federal funds doled out to lease office space for the California District Attorneys Association, a professional group whose web site lists training, publications and legislative advocacy as its functions. In other words, they’re a trade group whose mission includes lobbying.
Federal regulations concerning spending seized assets say they can not be spent on items used by non-law enforcement personnel. A DOJ spokesman quoted in the UT story said ‘the association is not law enforcement.” The DA’s office disagrees with that interpretation.
The feds will recover the misspent funds by withholding grant monies earmarked for the DA’s office. The amount in question comes to about 15% of this federal funding over the past five year.
An attempt to examine funding provided to Dumanis’ office through a similar state program went nowhere, as reporter Mark Walker discovered audits have not been posted by the CA Attorney General since 2010. A request to release documentation of state funds made to the DA’s office was rebuffed, as “there were more than 4000 pages and examining them for potential redactions would be overly burdensome.”
Via the UT story:
Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter said granting government-seized property to a group advocating for prosecutors is inappropriate.
“Civil asset forfeiture is a very problematic program,” she said. “This is not the first time we’ve seen violations … in the allocation of these funds.”
Dooley-Sammuli said the awards were questionable because they have violated federal rules and because the district attorneys group has used it for political purposes — such as advocating on legislation — that are not a direct law enforcement expense.
Privatizing Homelessness in Temecula
Temecula’s “Responsible Compassion” campaign for the homeless, which absolves the city of any financial commitment by privatizing the responsibility of homeless services via volunteer group, is getting some national attention.
The program includes “increased ‘surveillance and inspections of areas typically occupied by homeless/transients’ and new ordinances to outlaw panhandling; and finally, a “public awareness” campaign to tell people who have the audacity to give alms to the poor that their behavior is only perpetuating poverty.
Via Think Progress:
If you’re the mayor of a tony California community and don’t want to spend a dime of city funds on helping homeless residents, the easiest way to justify such a move is to convince yourself that many of them had it coming.
That’s precisely the situation in Temecula, a wealthy area in southern California dotted with golf courses and vineyards, where Mayor Maryann Edwards unveiled her plan last month to “eliminate” homelessness in the city.
“Homeless people panhandling on the off ramps are homeless by choice,” Edwards recently wrote in a comment on an article about her plan. (She confirmed the authenticity in an email to ThinkProgress.) “They have rejected all forms of help and have chosen instead to play on the sympathy of generous residents.”
May Day Protests All Over California
Demonstrations were held yesterday in cities and on college campuses around California calling for immigration reform and improved wages and conditions for workers.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, May Day rallies occurred in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Jose and Oakland. The Oakland event also stood in opposition to police brutality, as did a Santa Rosa event, where the focus was on Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy last Oct. 22.
There were three marches in Los Angeles. Using the theme “Keeping Families Together,” one of the marches began at Chinatown Gateway, winded through the downtown area and ended at the Metropolitan Detention Center at North Alameda Street, where a rally was held.
In downtown San Diego students and labor supporters marched from City College to Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, under the theme “Workers United for Dignity & Justice.” A post-march rally in the park included speaker Georgette Gomez, speaking in favor of Propositions B&C, which would allow Barrio Logan to implement a community plan currently under attack by big business interests.
At San Diego State University, protesters sat outside the college president’s office for a while, upset about “student success fees,” which they said puts an unfair burden on already debt-strapped students. The new fee start at $50 a semester in the fall but will rise incrementally until it reaches $200 a semester in 2017.
Mock Solitary Cage Exhibition to Protest Prison Expansion
A coalition of community and student organizations are holding a community forum and mock solitary confinement cell exhibition at San Diego City College (MS Building 1529 C St) today (May 2) starting at 6pm. They’re calling on California decision-makers to take immediate action to reduce prison overcrowding by expanding parole and sentencing reform measures.
The coalition is urging investing resources in social programs and services, and the canceling of all prison/jail expansion plans. They stand opposed to plans to build a 792-bed prison for prisoners convicted of non-violent charges, and those with disabilities and mental health needs next to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa.
“The social impact of over-incarceration is extraordinarily destructive. Building more prison cells does nothing to solve our prison overcrowding crisis. We must reform our draconian drug sentencing laws and put funding and resources back into our communities. A majority of people behind bars are non-violent drug offenders who need transitional services, community-based treatment, housing, jobs and education so that they can successfully reintegrate back into society, where they belong.” Gretchen Burns Bergman, Co-Founder & Executive Director, A New PATH, (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing), and Lead Organizer, Moms United to End the War on Drugs.
The new expansion unit for people with disabilities next to Donovan Correctional Facility would cost $168.7 million, with an annual operating budget of $5.5 million.
San Diego is also building a women’s jail and the California Department of Corrections recently announced a proposal to open up a Family Foundation Program in the area.
SDSU Rowing Coach Controversy
10News ran a story yesterday about former rowing coach SDSU Doug Perez, who says he got the boot from his volunteer position for refusing to raise funds for Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s campaign.
Given Perez’ success with the rowing program (increasing participation from 13 to 60 students and boosting donations from $3000 to $200,000) and the contradictory accusations being made as the reason for his dismissal, something certainly seems amiss here.
Via 10 News:
In December of last year, Perez says that he received an email from Christina Brown, executive director of Associated Students at San Diego State University, which oversees club sports. It read in part: “Can you give me a call when you have a chance? I have a personal favor to ask you. It is about Kevin Faulconer’s campaign.”
In a phone call, Perez says Brown asked him if he would ask his donors to donate to Faulconer’s campaign. Mayor Faulconer is a former student body president at SDSU.
Perez, who has a Ph.D. in political science, says that’s an unfair, pressure-filled question for the workplace.
Something to Smile About
Big mouthed Rush Limbaugh’s ratings are in the toilet on both coasts.
Via Jason Easley at Politicususa:
Rush Limbaugh’s claim to radio fame has always been that he is a right wing talker who brings big ratings to major markets in blue states, but this isn’t the case anymore. Since he moved to Clear Channel his ratings in the nation’s two largest markets have nosedived. Rush Limbaugh went from having the number one talk show in Los Angeles to falling down to 37th place in the ratings. In New York, Limbaugh has dropped from fifth in the city to 22nd. His audience is now so small in both markets that he is being outdrawn by Spanish language stations and NPR.
It’s amazing that radio stations are paying this man who can’t draw an audience any more millions of dollars to carry his program. Limbaugh’s ratings collapse has been building for a long time. His comments about Sandra Fluke tarnished him within the radio industry, but the real problem has been a lingering boycott that has caused Fortune 500 advertisers to avoid Rush like the plague.
On This Day: 1902 – “A Trip to the Moon,” the first science fiction film was released. It was created by magician George Melies. 1933 – Hitler banned trade unions in Germany. 1980 – The South African government banned the Pink Floyd song “Another Brick in the Wall (PartII).”
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Not only is the seizing of assets under question but also the spending now also questioned. Illegal activities on both sides and people caught in the middle.
John Lawrence says
What are “Student success fees” and how do they help a student to be successful?
Doug Porter says
Since tuitions are “frozen” in california at state universities, these are fees being imposed that are supposed to underwrite hiring tenure tracked faculty. it’s kinda like the city of san diego does with hotels and their “it’s not a tax” fees for tourism marketing. the link up there in that part of the column goes to a kpbs story explaining more detail.
John Lawrence says
What a travesty! Hiring tenure tracked faculty? As opposed to hiring faculty that is not tenure tracked? What’s the difference? Are they saying they are only going to hire “superior” faculty members with this fee and not hire the normal nincompoops they otherwise would have to hire? This is a joke. They shouldn’t get away with it.