By Doug Porter
In recent weeks there have been stories published nationwide about the San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ prosecution of people alleged to be gang members–not linked to any crime–for exercising their First Amendment rights; things like posting on Facebook and recording rap songs.
Now she’s apparently decided to join the ranks of Republicans who defy the law because it conflicts with their personal beliefs. Her office is refusing to respond to nearly 18,000 petitions filed by the San Diego Public Defenders for re-sentencing under the provisions of Proposition 47, which reclassified many drug felonies as misdemeanors. Canvass for a Cause, a local grassroots nonprofit, and the Black Student Justice Coalition have put together a letting writing campaign calling on her to uphold the will of the voters and the California Constitution.
There was a paragraph here claiming the County DA’s office was refusing to process petitions for re-sentencing under the provisions of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for drug possession and other minor offenses. We have since learned that the source for this assertion was, at best, exaggerating. Since nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, we’ve left the headline up and hope to correct any false impressions that had been made…. back to the rest of the story…
And just make sure her “message” gets out, the District Attorney has unveiled a public information website competing with San Diego County’s News Center which, according to a story at City Beat, operates with a $3.1-million annual budget and 11 full-time communications officers.
Bonnie’s Law: Guilty by Association
Both Voice of San Diego and City Beat have published stories about DA Dumanis’ (at best) questionable strategies for going after people her office believes are associated with gang violence.
City Beat’s editorial this week minces no words in calling out DA Dumanis:
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is out of control. Her office filed charges against 15 San Diego men for conspiracy to commit various violent crimes even though there’s no evidence that they had anything to do with the offenses. To us, it looks like yet another example of brazen, systemic harassment of young African-American men, and it’s clearly a violation of constitutionally protected freedom of speech and, possibly, freedom of association.
The case gained notoriety last last year when the news media focused on one defendant, Brandon Duncan, a gangsta rapper who performs under the name Tiny Doo. Prosecutors claim he’s guilty of conspiracy to commit specific violent crimes because he’s allegedly benefited from music he’s produced that depicts violence and gang membership. They’ll attempt to prove that he’s associated with the gang that’s responsible for certain shootings. The ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties has taken up his case, having officially asked the court to dismiss the charges.
Voice of San Diego profiled a second defendant, Aaron Harvey, who, like Duncan, has no criminal record and is being linked to the “conspiracy” based on his Facebook posts, which say nothing about particular crimes but allegedly associate him with the same Lincoln Park gang. Harvey was in Las Vegas when he was arrested; he told Voice he moved there to get away from police harassment in San Diego.
Bonnie’s Law: Prop 47 Doesn’t Count
There was a story here claiming the County DA’s office was refusing to process petitions for re-sentencing under the provisions of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for drug possession and other minor offenses.
We have since learned that the source for this assertion was, at best, exaggerating.
Since nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, we’ve left the headline up and hope to correct any false impressions that had been made.
Bonnie’s Law: Let There Be Light
Here’s a snippet from a 2012 UT-San Diego story about the county’s existing news outlet, funded to the tune of more than $3 million annually:
“Undersheriff Looks Back on Outstanding Career”
“County Building Permits Keep Residents Safe”
“County’s ‘Live Well, San Diego!’ Improving the Region’s Health”
The headlines all appeared on the County News Center website, which looks like a real news outlet — but isn’t. The site has a .com address, as opposed to .gov, and contains only subtle cues that it’s a San Diego County government public-relations operation.
The stories are written by PR people paid with tax money. The 18-month-old venture produces daily online reports, videos and graphics that attempt to sidestep (or replace) traditional media and go “direct to you.”
Spend time on the site and you will find a pattern of coverage portraying the county as essentially faultless. That perception appears to be held among top officials, who call it “the finest local government in America” and then quote themselves saying that.
The dollars San Diego taxpayers are already spending annually for the County News Center apparently haven’t been enough for the DA’s office.
They’ve started their own news operation.
From the Times of San Diego:
Tanya Sierra, the DA spokeswoman, told Times of San Diego that County News Center does a great job covering county departments.
“Occasionally they’ll do a public safety/DA-related story,” Sierra said Tuesday. “DANewsCenter.com focuses on the DA’s Office, telling the stories that the county — and San Diego media — may not have the time, resources or inclination to cover — but that we feel the public should be aware of. It’s an effort to increase transparency and tell our stories directly to the people we work for.”
Big Boys Fight Over Shiny Toys
At the heart of the never-ending saga over building a stadium for San Diego’s NFL team is a fundamental difference between groups looking for a way to socialize their infrastructure and risks while keeping their profits very private.
On the one hand you have local hoteliers, who’ve conned the city into creating semi-public entities that market for downtown properties and oversee collections for funding various projects.
Their grand plan has always involved expansion of the Convention Center. A fee-not-a-tax scheme for financing that effort fell apart last year in the face of a legal challenge.
So now they’re back at the table, with a consultant’s report released yesterday warning about delays on expansion costing $1 million a month due to rising costs.
The CB Urban report came with several disclaimers, including whether the reduced-scale alternatives fit with the convention center’s programming and marketing goals, a lack of certainty on costs until design and construction teams are selected, and the exclusion of certain infrastructure and land costs.
In a memo to the City Council and other municipal officials, Faulconer said his staff would work with the San Diego Convention Center Corp. to study the return on investment and customer preferences of each scenario. The study would begin this month and take about four months, the mayor said.
“I stand firm in my support of expanding the convention center and remain open to both contiguous and non-contiguous opportunities,” Faulconer wrote. “Ultimately, the decision on which expansion project that we move forward with will be based on what is most financially and legally prudent and supported by San Diego voters.”
On the other hand, we heard yesterday from the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group that a Mission Valley location for a new football stadium was the best option. They cited estimates of lower construction costs and an fast time frame as primary factors influencing their decision.
UT-San Diego, aware of the Charger organization’s preference for a downtown location, editorialized (it sounded like begging to me) for consideration of the Valley location:
Dean Spanos is the only one who knows the end game in this drama. If Mission Valley is unacceptable, if Carson is real, Spanos, not Fabiani, should say so now so San Diego can stop wasting its time. If he really wants to keep the team here, he should commit now.
This is the closest he has ever been, perhaps the closest he will ever get, to fulfilling his hopes for a new stadium here.
All he has to do is offer some real encouragement that his financial experts will work closely with the mayor’s task force to develop a financing plan that works for the team and for the region’s taxpayers and that he will then go all out to help sell it to San Diego County voters.
It really is just that simple. If he does it, Dean Spanos can cement his legacy as a man who believes in “community first” — a man who truly meant what he said when he said he wanted the Chargers to remain the San Diego Chargers.
While the team remained tight-lipped about the Advisory Group’s proposal, UT columnist Nick Canepa didn’t have to try too hard to figure out what the Chargers were thinking:
I have great respect for Faulconer and the members of his task force, who proclaim that a new stadium in the East Village — by far the best idea — won’t do, and that building a facility on the present Qualcomm Stadium site is best for all concerned.
But I don’t think so.
I know the Chargers — who are threatening to move to Carson (escrow on the land they’ve purchased there closes soon) — don’t think so. And I believe there are a whole lot of people in this city, many of them powerful, who don’t think so, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of a stadium being built anywhere around here. But they’re going to have to do some great explaining for me not to believe the downtown site is best — it could be multi-purpose, it could expand the convention center, which can’t happen in Mission Valley.
Ah, the boys and their shiny toys….
On This Day: 1912 – The Lawrence, Mass., “Bread and Roses” textile strike ended, with the American Woolen Co. agreeing to most of the strikers’ demands; other textile companies quickly followed suit. 1933 – President Franklin Roosevelt presented his first presidential address to the nation. It was the first of the “Fireside Chats.” 2003 – The Chinese government ordered the Rolling Stones to eliminate four songs from their upcoming performances in Shanghai and Beijing. The banned songs were “Brown Sugar,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Beast of Burden,” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.