It seems appropriate to report today –the day before July 4th– on a petition making the rounds calling on SeaWorld to end their nightly pyrotechnics.
Activist Alicia Coons and others are petitioning the City Council, asking them to tell SeaWorld they can only use fireworks alternatives for their nightly summer shows, including environmentally friendly laser light shows and electronic fireworks simulations.
In the past, those of us living inland hardly notice bada bing, bada-boom at about 9:50 each night during the summer months. This year, according to a report on CBS8/KFMB, the theme park is using a new vendor, “who may be using a higher degree of fire power.” The station played a video this week shot 20 miles away in Scripps Ranch, demonstrating just how far inland the sound travels.
The preamble for the petition on Change.org reads:
SeaWorld is damaging the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of San Diegans on a nightly basis, 90 days straight during the summer season alone. They are causing hearing damage and overall the physical well-being of the citizens of San Diego who live within a 20 mile radius or larger.
The fireworks at SeaWorld constitute animal cruelty. Dogs, cats, and other companion animals don’t understand that the terrifying loud bangs are a celebration. Humane societies across North America report that after firework displays they are swamped with calls about lost dogs and cats. Dogs are brought to shelters with paws bloody from running or torn skin from tearing through a backyard wooden fence or, worse, crippled from being hit by a car.
The need to protect both companion animals and nondomesticated animals from fireworks harm is exemplified in the numerous stories of animal suffering that we are left with after the smoke has cleared.
Nearly 500 people signed the petition in the first 24 hours after it was published.
Ta-Da! San Diego Gets More Open
The City Council Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee approved plans yesterday making San Diego the first local government in the region and among the first in the nation to post nearly all of its data online in a user-friendly web portal starting next year.
UT-San Diego reported:
Detailed crime statistics, gallons of water used per household and the locations of every streetlight in San Diego may soon be conveniently available to residents, entrepreneurs and anyone else who’s interested….
In addition to databases, city officials said the portal would include maps, charts, tables and other kinds of data. Sensitive and private information, such as the Social Security numbers of residents or city employees, won’t be included.
The city plans to hire a chief data officer by September and seek full council approval in the fall.
Legal Beagle Trying to Keep the Lid On #1
Dorian Hargrove at the Reader reports that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has retained outside counsel “in the case brought against him for his failure to turn over emails from his personal email account to reporters and others.”
Goldsmith is being sued by San Diegans for Open Government, who say his office is refusing to provide emails from the city attorney’s personal email account despite the fact they’d already been given to other media outlets.
From the Reader story:
As of now, Goldsmith’s defense has relied on an interpretation of the state’s public records law that states that public officials are not the same as an “agency” and therefore are exempt from turning over emails and other correspondence.
“[A]lthough there is a strong policy favoring disclosure of public records, the public’s right to information is not absolute,” reads a February 27 legal brief filed by Goldsmith’s former counsel. “As a threshold matter, the Act requires that the requested records sought be from a state or local agency. The requested records must also be prepared, owned, used, or retained by that agency and contain information relating to the conduct of the public’s business.”
That argument, however, didn’t fly with Superior Court judge Joel Wohlfeil. In a June 6 ruling, Wohlfeil cited the following passage: “Unless exempted by the California Public Records Act (CPRA), all public records may be examined by any member of the public, often the press, but conceivably any person with no greater interest than idle curiosity.”
Legal Beagle Trying to Keep the Lid On #2
Voice of San Diego has been publishing a bunch of stories recently:
**The ex-cop & the Mexican millionaire at the heart of the illegal donations scandal tried (and failed) to donate directly to a political action committee supporting Dumanis.
**There’s also a very handy-dandy timeline about what we know and when we knew it concerning Dumanis and the financier.
This is the first time the sheriff has been linked in any way to Azano. Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Melissa Aquino said Gore, Dumanis, Azano and former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas attended the March 2012 meeting. Encinas is a confidante of both Dumanis and Azano and has pleaded guilty to facilitating Azano’s campaign donations.
Gore’s calendar indicates that Kelli Maruccia, the campaign fundraiser for both Dumanis and Gore, helped set up the meeting. The calendar blocks off 90 minutes for the meeting, but Aquino believed the discussion lasted no longer than 40 minutes.
**Interestingly enough, the meeting didn’t show up on the Dumanis calendar.
And City Beat’s out this week with an editorial demanding that the DA come clean about the letter of recommendation she wrote for the financier’s son.
Dumanis’ assertion that she doesn’t know Azano could be further undermined by a Sept. 28, 2012, letter of recommendation that she wrote—on district-attorney letterhead—for Azano’s son, who wanted to attend the University of San Diego. The existence of the letter became known on June 2, when it was described in vague terms in a court hearing, but the judge refused to make it public.
CityBeat, among other media, filed a request with the District Attorney’s office to provide a copy of the letter under the California Public Records Act—the state law that requires most documents pertaining to the people’s business to be provided upon request—but the DA’s office declined to release it, arguing that it’s not a public document.
Representatives of numerous local media organizations disagree and are mounting a challenge. Even the U-T San Diego editorial board, which endorsed Dumanis for reelection before she prevailed on June 3 with 54.9 percent of the vote amid low turnout, published an editorial on June 24 that said the letter “definitely is the public’s business.”
Kudos to Congressman Juan Vargas
There are two stories to share today about a congressman who did something right.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Vargas brought his Bible to the El Centro facility where the immigrants are to be housed, and prayed with detainees.
“It’s been an outpouring of love here,” he said, adding that he assured the mothers and children that the United States would treat them “fairly and with dignity.”
Vargas also had a message for what he called the “angry mob” in Murrieta: “Don’t forget your humanity.” He said he couldn’t understand why the protesters who blocked the buses in Murrieta weren’t arrested.
What Vargas says shocked him most was their greatest fear of all.
“These kids interestingly seem to be more afraid of the angry mob in Murrieta than the murderers down in Honduras,” he said. “There’s something wrong here.”
Vargas says when they arrived in El Centro, they feared some American protesters might want to kill them.
“They thought they were going to get off the bus and have to run the gauntlet of these angry people, hitting them with signs and hitting them with clubs,” he said. “They heard what happened in Murrieta, so they were terrified.”
Meanwhile in Murrieta…
Seven hundred plus people attended a town hall meeting in Murrieta, Ca last night. Federal officials attempted to acquaint anti-immigration residents with some actual facts. Based on the video I saw, many weren’t in a mood to hear them.
From UT-San Diego:
On Monday, the city issued a press release with the heading “Murrieta opposes illegal immigrant policy.”
One audience member asked the panel if they would “draw the line in the sand in Murrieta” to prevent busing unauthorized immigrants to the city.
“I think that question has already been answered by the actions we have taken thus far,” Long said. “This is admittedly a nationwide problem, and little old Murrieta has taken the lead with a true grassroots effort. Many of you in the audience have taken a courageous stand yourself.”
There WAS a large turn out of people supporting the immigrants yesterday, both at the Murrieta meeting and at an event in San Diego
From NBC7/San Diego:
Children holding stuffed animals joined activists, clergy, attorneys and other community members Wednesday in San Diego to show support for those undocumented women and children who were blocked from an immigration facility by a crowd of angry protesters.
“These are our children. Before we were us, we were them,” said Enrique Morones, Director of Border Angels, a non-profit based in San Diego.
“It is absolutely wrong what is taking place.”
Sad But True…
If the Civil Rights Act was before the Congress today, it would not pass, it would probably never make it to the floor for a vote.
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 2, 2014
Have a Happy 4th of July
NOTE: Unless there’s something REALLY BIG going on, I’m taking a day off from the column on Friday, July 4th. See you on Monday.
On This Day: 1860 – Feminist and labor activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman born in Hartford, Conn. Her landmark study, “Women and Economics,” was radical: it called for the financial independence of women and urged a network of child care centers 1937 – The Del Mar race track opened for business 1967 – The Doors released the song “Light My Fire.” Four years later on this date singer Jim Morrison died in Paris of a heroin overdose.
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