By Doug Porter
As the San Diego City Council contemplates whether or not to put the future of the One Paseo development on the ballot, City Councilman Todd Gloria is seeking to reform the referendum petition process that brought them to this point.
The current dilemma over the mixed use development proposal in Carmel Valley represents the fifth time council actions have been blocked by referendum petition drives over the past eighteen months.
Gloria is presenting his ideas to a city council committee today, hoping to build consensus around getting resolutions directing the Ethics Commission to propose changes in the Election Campaign Control ordinance and the City Attorney’s office for updates to the Municipal Code.
None of the changes proposed by Gloria at this time require affirmation by voters, but they do require councilmembers to take actions that will make the local political consultant types unhappy. First and foremost among that “low hanging fruit” would be a requirement that petitions include information about who’s paying for the effort.
“I see this as a first step in the process to see what kind of buy-in we can get from the committee,” he said. He added that right now, he’s the only council member asking for these changes and is trying to build consensus.
Later on, Gloria said he would also consider asking for charter changes, including raising the percentage of signatures needed to get a referendum on the ballot.
The people benefiting from the currently opaque system claim the proposed reforms are an attack on voters rights.
When he first made his proposal in January, Jason Roe, who runs the consulting group Revolvis, which managed the minimum wage referendum, said it would lead to disenfranchisement of voters.
“He’s attacking the process of putting any public policy on the ballot, but the reality is that voters are going to have their say,” Roe said. “The referendum process allows voters to vote on issues that are very important to the city, and I don’t understand why someone who’s in a position that (Gloria) is in would think it’s OK to take away the right of our voters to have a say on these issues.”
The fact is that big money players have and are taking advantage of the system. There is no way citizen Jane Doe from Oak Park could afford to initiate a referendum. They certainly wouldn’t have the financial means needed to hire cockroaches like Jason Roe to craft the lies needed for campaigns like the ones we’ve seen recently.
So bravo to Todd Gloria. It will be interesting to see if his proposals are dead on arrival at the City Council.
Fast Factoid: According to Capital Public Radio, 1073 permits for swimming pool construction were issued in San Diego County during 2014.
SDPD Reforms Discussed
San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman gave a lengthy presentation last night on how the her agency is implementing reforms recommended following a review conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing.
The City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee moved its meeting last night to the Jacobs Center on Euclid Avenue to accommodate the expected large turnout.
The department has faced renewed criticism in recent weeks following the disclosure that a police officer involved in a fatal shooting failed to activate his body camera. Zimmerman said she’s issued new guidelines to officers.
The SDPD is in possession of videos from privately owned cameras and employees nearby businesses who have viewed the footage say the shooting was unnecessary. Citing an investigation in progress, the department has refused to release a copy of the video.
Critics of the SDPD made their voices heard…
From UT-San Diego:
Aaron Harvey spoke with Zimmerman before the meeting began. He spent seven months in jail for alleged gang conspiracy before a judge recently dismissed charges against him and a co-defendant.
Harvey told a reporter that the issue is accountability.
“You can have all the recommendations in the world and you can implement every single one of them, but if there’s no accountability, and they’re not followed, who cares?” he said.
The Student African American Brotherhood sat front and center, becoming the first to respond to Zimmerman.
“Every time Chief Zimmerman is asked is there racial profiling in the SDPD, they gloss over it,” said local SAAB president Mark Jones. “They don’t answer the question. That data shows that it’s a problem, and our concern is that once again nobody is really paying attention to this.”
Meanwhile, Out in the County…
A local security guard may or may not be the victim of road rage, according to reports at UT-San Diego and SanDiego6 News:
A review was underway Thursday into whether a sheriff’s detective was following department policy when he used a “carotid-restraint” hold on a reckless driving suspect — an incident the man recorded on his cell phone.
Cell phone video obtained by San Diego 6 shows a San Diego Sheriff’s deputy in plain clothes using what’s commonly known as a “sleeper hold” on an unarmed 25-year-old man.
During the incident, Robert Branch can be heard screaming “I can’t breathe” and “Tell my mother I love her.” Branch recorded the incident on his cell phone “as a precaution.”
The UT account was very defensive about the sheriff’s department.
Conflict of Interest at Civic San Diego
A conflict of interest concerning a proposed multimillion dollar investment fund at Civic San Diego has led to redevelopment agency to alter its plans, according to an article in Voice of San Diego. Instead of hiring one consultant to both set up and manage the fund, they’ll now be hiring two, one for each function.
Charles Modica from the independent budget analyst’s office — which initially made the conflict of interest public in its report on Civic’s new budget — said he was told the applicants brought in for interviews by Civic were representatives from “two large banks,” but didn’t know any other details.
Murtaza Baxamusa, a Civic San Diego board member who is suing the agency on grounds the city’s relationship with it is illegal, said this is evidence the board isn’t given enough information to provide adequate oversight of the agency.
“No one on the board even knew about it,” he said. “If the IBA didn’t mention it, we never would have known. What kind of oversight is that?”
Another Lawsuit Against the City
I should have known trouble was brewing for the city’s lease deal with Belmont Park when I saw a bunch of unexpected web traffic coming to an earlier story on the subject at SD Free Press.
UT-San Diego says last month’s city council approval of a new lease for the Mission Beach amusement park has created a new legal problem.
Attorney Cory Briggs, representing San Diegans for Open Government, states in his suit that the City Council’s action was illegal on the grounds it violated not only the City Charter, but the California Coastal Act, environmental laws and a 1987 voter-approved initiative that governs allowed uses at the Mission Beach park property owned by the city.
“The lawsuit stems from the current politicians’ failure to honor the voters’ wishes when they protected Belmont Park and insisted on its return to free public space in 2037,” Briggs said Wednesday.
More Revelations About Supervisor Dave Roberts
A former scheduler for Dave Roberts filed a formal complaint with the County, bringing more bad publicity for the only Democrat on the Board of Supervisors.
UT-San Diego and NBC7 both ran with the tawdry details of Diane Porter’s (no relation) complaint.
In the claim, Porter said Roberts would use county resources for “purely campaign related activities.” Those activities include:
- Telling Porter to send out campaign letters seeking early endorsements, and then instructing her to teach other staff members on how to do the same thing. She gave NBC 7 Investigates examples of those endorsement letters.
- Expecting each staff member to join a Lion’s Club chapter — and pay dues with their personal money — to help “aggrandize his standing” within the club. Porter said she was sent to take notes at Lion’s Club leadership meetings while on the county’s time, and she was told to go on a $700 trip to Hawaii for a club conference, paying for it herself.
- Using county funds to buy 10,000 “Dave Roberts baseball cards” in March. When they arrived, some of the staff complained this was an inappropriate county expenditure.
And a sampling from the UT:
- The complaint says that Roberts had an inappropriate relationship with Harold Meza, his driver. “Staff viewed their relationship as an inappropriate personal relationship being publicly carried on between a subordinate and supervisor.” At times Meza and Roberts traveled together and shared a hotel room. At one event Roberts tried to spoon-feed Meza, the complaint said.
- In one instance, Roberts’ husband, Wally, asked Porter if the supervisor had shared a room with anyone on a trip, and Porter explained that Meza and Roberts had shared a room. “Later that week, Mr. Roberts approached Ms. Porter and coyly stated that ‘we don’t need to tell Wally everything, now, do we?’” the complaint said.
- Staff objected to Roberts using a personal driver since the supervisor already received a $1,000 monthly car allowance. Furthermore, Meza was only responsible for chauffeuring the supervisor, and “often these chauffeured events were purely campaign related functions.”
- On March 9, Porter and Vaughan both explained their ongoing concerns with Roberts to the county’s head of human resources, Susan Brazeau. When they returned, Roberts “made it clear that he knew they had gone to HR and what they had said,” the complaint said.
Tom Brady’s Smirking Ball Boy
It would appear that Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady’s ball issues go back a ways. From the Guardian:
Former NFL quarterback AJ Feeley revealed Wednesday he witnessed the New England Patriots using doctored footballs more than a decade before the Deflategate scandal that culminated Monday with Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
Feeley, in an interview on Philadelphia sports talk radio, said he saw Brady using illegally broken-in balls during an October 2004 game in New England, violating a rule that mandated teams use new balls provided by the league. Not until 2006, after lobbying from Brady and Peyton Manning, did the NFL permit teams to use their own game balls.
“Prior to Tommy and Peyton Manning coming to the league about, ‘Let us doctor our balls, let each team bring their own balls to the game,’ we used to all play with the same balls,” Feeley said Tuesday on 97.5 The Fanatic. “What’s interesting is when I was in Miami in my first year [as a back-up], I was on the sidelines and I noticed that somehow the beat-up ball was getting thrown in on offense for New England. Yet when we were on offense, the brand new ball was getting thrown in. I made note of it. I even said something to the ball boy, but he just kind of gave me a smirk.”
On This Day: 1953- Milwaukee brewery workers began 10-week strike, demanding contracts comparable to East and West Coast workers. The strike was won because Blatz Brewery accepted their demands, but Blatz was ousted from the Brewers Association for “unethical” business methods. 1961 – A bus carrying Freedom Riders was bombed and burned in Alabama. 1998 – The final episode of the TV series “Seinfeld” aired after nine years on NBC
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