By Doug Porter
The prospect of San Diego losing its beloved football team provides an opportunity to examine the worst of what the local media does in terms of misleading people about the relative importance of news.
Many stories in the local news media outlets seem based upon the belief this potential business decision (by an entity dependent on taxpayer largess for its profitability) is of critical importance for San Diegans. While I certainly appreciate the emotional connection between fans and sporting organizations, much of what I’ve read in the last few days is simply not connected to any reality that I’m aware of.
Putting this in perspective, the Chargers “fan base” ranks in the bottom half of National Football League, according to data compiled by Nielsen Scarborough, who looked at the percentage of adults who have watched, attended or listened to the NFL team in that market in the past year. Despite what team boosters say, San Diegans are decidedly lukewarm about most pro sports.
Polling paid for by UT-San Diego and 10News says less than one in three adults would even care to support the beloved Bolts if they flee the market. The team itself has long known there wasn’t enough support for any ballot measure enabling new stadium construction.
The End of the World as We Know It
Let’s look at two stories of the Chargers-leaving-as-a-horror-story genre: UT-San Diego sports writer Kevin Acee’s claim that the break-up would “be the biggest story in our city’s history” and Matt Potter’s Reader story linking the Bolts bolting to the imminent downfall of the Daily Fishwrap.
I have no problem with writing about the impending departure of the football team. But I see no need to get hysterical about it. After all, it’s not like the Spanos family is struggling to put food on the table, as opposed to the TWO THIRDS of students in San Diego Unified who qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
Acee’s column at UT-San Diego is so over-the-top, I initially dismissed it. Lo and behold, it’s being taken seriously, at least amongst the faithful in social media.
….We’re forever grateful to Juan Cabrillo for sailing into San Diego Bay in the 16th Century. We live in admiration of Alonzo Horton’s good eye for location. There were a couple international expositions here in the early 20th Century that essentially gave birth to Balboa Park, including our pioneering zoo. We can’t forget the 144 people who perished on PSA Flight 182. We’ll never live down Enron by the Bay.
But losing the team we so often rally around — a billion-dollar business with all its history and personalities and charitable contributions and the connections you all have made with the team and with each other through the team — would be bigger.
The Black Helicopters of the Local Bourgeoisie
Over at the San Diego Reader we learn:
News that the team is partnering with the Oakland Raiders on an L.A. stadium in case San Diego taxpayers don’t come up with enough scratch for one here could spell the beginning of the end for the U-T, already struggling under the ownership of voluble real estate mogul Douglas Manchester.
We’re told that the amount of advertising relating to the Chargers at the daily paper is:
…a tightly held secret, but is believed by some to be one of the operation’s last dependable streams of cash.
I have no doubt that UT-San Diego is but a shell of what it once was. I have no doubt that the economics of the modern day news business make a daily paper an ever-increasingly iffy proposition.
I can also tell you that “some” writers who used to work for the Reader sat in my living room Friday night and told me about how writer pay and pages published at San Diego’s Sort-of-Alt-Weekly have rapidly declined.
But wait! It gets better.
From the imminent collapse of the UT, the Reader story moves on to the Grand Plan afoot to reconstitute the daily as a non-profit by “Malin Burnham and his yet-to-be-identified backers” including potentially one of whom “may” have an interest.
One in particular who may have an interest in the fate of the once-proud GOP journal is Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, the La Jolla Democratic billionaire who is rooting for Hillary Clinton in next year’s presidential derby. He already has helped finance San Diego State University’s public broadcasting operation and the non-profit Voice of San Diego news and opinion website.
From there we’re led to the smoke-filled back room of the restaurant formerly known as The Bamboo Lounge…
Like Burnham a supporter of Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher for mayor in 2013, Jacobs is helping to stage what is billed as the first annual fundraiser for the California Young Democrats of the San Diego Region, featuring a galaxy of Democratic office holders and putative candidates.
So all that’s left is the connection with the Illuminati and the United Nations’ Agenda 21. And if you hadn’t noticed already, Irwin (Jacobs) and Illuminati both start with the letter “I.”
While I’ll (See? Another “I” word) be the first to admit that following the money is a good method of reporting, especially when it comes to wealthy people and politics, I also believe that excessive conspiracism is both a waste of time and leads to people feeling helpless.
Winning from the ground up in politics and society is hard enough without this kind of crap.
ESPN Sports ranter Keith Oberman has, by the way, announced he’ll support the concept of a football stadium in Carson, provided that one of teams involved is willing to change its name to the Carson Johnnies.
Peeling Back the GOP’s Education Myth
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman took aim this weekend at the great GOP “skills myth,” an excuse trotted out whenever discussions of inequality venture near the concept of progressive taxation.
Surely you’ve heard the anecdotes about businesses struggling to find workers with the right skill sets and how if we could just get The Poors lined up at the admission offices for [insert names of private for-profit colleges here] they could benefit from a better education…
Actually, the inflation-adjusted earnings of highly educated Americans have gone nowhere since the late 1990s.
So what is really going on? Corporate profits have soared as a share of national income, but there is no sign of a rise in the rate of return on investment. How is that possible? Well, it’s what you would expect if rising profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns to capital.
As for wages and salaries, never mind college degrees — all the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power.
Student Debtors on Strike
At the Guardian, Sarah Jaffe has a revealing article about students burned by private education colleges. They are organizing with the aim of dealing with the worthless degrees and student debt.
Nathan Hornes didn’t think he’d still be working in fast food on his 25th birthday. He had a plan: he wanted to be a pop singer-songwriter and had moved from Missouri to Los Angeles after his 2008 high school graduation in order to become a star.
He never thought he would first be getting national press coverage as part of what may be the first organized student debt strike. But he and 14 other students, with the support of the Occupy Wall Street spinoff group The Debt Collective, are taking a stand and refusing to pay back the student loans they took out to attend the for-profit Corinthian colleges.
Corinthian is being dismantled and its students given debt relief on their private loans – the institution is under federal and state investigations and is the target of multiple lawsuits alleging predatory lending practices. But Hornes and the “Corinthian 15” are demanding relief for their federal student loans, too.
Also noteworthy in the education arena are plans by teacher adjuncts to stage strikes and protests nationwide on Wednesday, March 25th. Jim Miller’s SD Free Press column (coauthored with Ian Duckles) has the details.
Educating Republicans for Fun and Profit
San Diego Republican Chair Tony Kvaric hopes to create a GOP training school for candidates.
Citing the sixth year of programs offered by the San Diego Leadership Alliance (egads! they’re tax exempt!), Kvaric hopes to lure would-be candidates and “top notch” conservative activists for an “intensive five month program designed to give our team the skills necessary to win!”
While the SDLA Institute’s program is about public service (a few graduates have gone into politics), Kvaric–given his past propensity for mud slinging– probably has something a little more bare-knuckled in mind.
Educating Democrats to Win
The Point Loma/OB Democratic Club held a terrific forum on Sunday featuring Labor Council leader Richard Barrera and Democratic party activist Daraka Larimore-Hall with presentations on the nexus of labor and party politics.
While both speakers talked about the sometimes bumpy history between the groups, they also spoke about strategies for the 2016 elections.
Barrera pointed out that, while local Dems do well in presidential election years, they have a very poor history in off-year and special elections.
If just (roughly) one in five of the Democratic voters who constituted the margin of victory for the ex-mayor-who- cannot-be-named in 2012 had bothered to show up at the polls in the 2014 special election, Kevin Faulconer would not be mayor. Congressman Scott Peters’ victory over Carl DeMaio was the first big ticket off-presidential year win for local Democrats in over a decade.
To that end, Barrera suggested that the really important election in 2016 was the June primary. He promised the Labor Council would make efforts to turn out an additional five to ten thousand voters and challenged local Democratic clubs to do the same, urging them to expand their small-donor/month contributors base. AND he offered to match up to $1,000,000 towards increasing voter turnout in that election.
San Diego Slumlord on the Dole
Word came out Friday that Bankin Shah, the San Diego landlord named in the KPBS/VOSD story by Megan Burks on substandard housing is looking to sell his many properties.
This morning KPBS/Voice of San Diego are carrying yet another story by Burks about the public subsidies being collected for those properties. A disabled man named Brian O’Shea’s City Heights apartment is the focus of the story. Needless to say the place was/is a dump, complete with an army of cockroaches, a leaking gas line and a refrigerator that only sort-of works.
In 2014, Shah received $507,621 from the Section 8 program, which subsidizes rent for low-income tenants. That money came despite city documents that show he’s been flagged for renting units state law would deem uninhabitable.
The San Diego Housing Commission administers the Section 8 program locally, entering into contracts with landlords to pay a portion of a tenant’s rent. O’Shea can pay about $400 a month, so the Housing Commission sends the owner of his building about $700 in public funds per month.
The commission doesn’t do background checks on landlords it enters into contracts with. In the case of O’Shea, the commission’s system for protecting tenants from unsafe and undignified living conditions failed. A Housing Commission inspection form says O’Shea’s apartment passed with flying colors before he moved in despite failing to meet standards laid out by the federal government for Section 8 rentals.
On This Day: 1940 – Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” following a frigid trip—partially by hitchhiking, partially by rail—from California to Manhattan. The Great Depression was still raging. Guthrie had heard Kate Smith’s recording of “God Bless America” and resolved to himself: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it” 1999 – White supremacist John William King was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering James Byrd Jr. Byrd was dragged behind a truck for two miles on a country road in Texas. 1999 – Garth Brooks attended spring training camp with the San Diego Padres as a non-roster player. The Padres Foundation agreed to contribute to the Touch ‘Em All Foundation in lieu of a salary to Brooks.
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