By Doug Porter
Two incredulous tales about the agencies entrusted to look out for the public good opting for short-sighted policies grabbed my attention this morning. Apparently climate change is a mere bureaucratic hurdle and the drought is soon to be forgotten. I guess we just gotta have faith, baby.
Our regional transportation planners are set to approve a proposal no better than the one already rejected by the courts for failing to meet state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals, according to the group that took them to court in the first place.
Ten local water agencies are, according to a story in Voice of San Diego, questioning state regulators about the need to continue restrictions on water use. They’re banking on a return to normalcy with the advent of El Nino conditions this winter, and are apparently ignorant of long term trends due to climate change.
SANDAG’s ‘Same Highways, Less Transit’ Plan
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is slated to vote on a proposed 2015 update to its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) this week.
The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF), the group that successfully sued SANDAG over the last version of this plan, has put the agency on notice, saying the update is not meaningfully closer to meeting state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals.
In a letter to the planners, CNFF says the “current draft Plan proposes to keep every single roadway project that was included in the 2050 RTP/SCS. Making matters worse, the draft 2015 Plan includes even less funding for transit than the prior RTP.” (emphasis mine)
According to the non-profit Transit San Diego:
SANDAG is set to vote on whether to adopt its proposed 2015 plan on Friday, October 9. There has been significant controversy in recent weeks regarding the impact SANDAG’s car-centric plan could have on other regional efforts to curb climate change, including the City of San Diego’s ambitious Climate Action Plan (CAP).
“SANDAG has been aggressively spreading misleading information in recent weeks making the case that the City of San Diego’s CAP is not achievable,” said Jana Clark, board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. “The people of San Diego can no longer enable a system that is more interested in propping up developers than protecting public health.”
The Cleveland National Forest Foundation is not alone is raising concerns over SANDAG’s plan. Supporters of CNFF’s position include Bike SD; League of Conservation Voters, San Diego; League of Women Voters San Diego; and Preserve Wild Santee.
UPDATE: Circulate San Diego has set up this easy-to-use way to email your SANDAG rep urging them to say no to their faith-based 2015 plan. Don’t know who your rep is? No problem! They’ll figure it out for you.
What Drought? The Forecast Says Rain, Right?
A story on water conservation also demonstrates the lack of environmental consciousness on the part of local agencies.
According to a letter provided to VOSD by Coastkeeper, we learn that 10 local water agencies, including the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority have asked state regulators about when conservation measures can be ended.
Current emergency restrictions on water use ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown are set to expire in February. The local waterworks are saying they should be able to return to normal operations with the predicted advent of El Niño.
From Voice of San Diego:
…state officials are looking to lock in the water savings seen this summer so Californians don’t backpedal after a rainy season and find themselves unprepared for yet another drought, or even the continuation of the current one. The No. 1 goal in the governor’s 2014 Water Action Plan is “Make conservation a California way of life.”
But in the view of local water agencies, the state doesn’t have the power to indefinitely mandate water conservation.
Keith Lewinger, a member of the County Water Authority’s board of directors, said there would be a “firestorm” if the state goes that route.
Okay, maybe it’s not the state that needs to mandate water conservation. Maybe it’s that stuff called climate change. Maybe it’s a “new normal” making drought conditions more likely. Or maybe it’s something called “common sense.”
San Diego’s Failing Trolley Stations
The Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley and Next 10, a nonprofit organization that funds research into state issues has released a study based on a statewide evaluation of rail transit stations. Unsurprisingly, San Diego fared poorly.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The researchers graded the stations on “how well they encourage ridership and create thriving, rail-oriented neighborhoods,” the report said.
Researchers said the best-performing stations are easily reached by walking, have high ridership and serve significant concentrations of employers, services, shopping and housing. The lowest-ranked stations were often on the fringes of rail systems in low-density, industrial or car-oriented communities…
…San Diego scored the most failing grades with eight and had the worst-performing stop in California: the Gillespie Field Station. Only 4.26% of residents and 4.5% of workers in the heavily car-dependent area relied on transit.
Haggen Stores Auctioned, Rite Aid/Union Deal Looks Up
A variety of news sources are saying some locations from the bankrupt Haggen grocery chain may be bought by other companies at an auction scheduled for November 9th.
It appears as though Gelson’s Markets, a high-end supermarket chain with 18 stores across Southern California will be bidding on locations in upscale neighborhoods.
From the Los Angeles Times:
“Should our bid prove successful, it will be a benefit for thousands of shoppers who value quality products and exceptional service,” Gelson’s Chief Executive Rob McDougall said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming the Haggen store employees into the Gelson’s family.”
Discounter Smart & Final is said to be bidding on locations in in not-so-upscale neighborhoods.
The Times story didn’t include anything from Smart and Final referencing the employees. A visit to GlassDoor.com reveals the likely reason. Apparently the corporate philosophy about employees amounts to tokens and trinkets.
Employee reviews cite poor staffing levels and management neglect as big problems with the company. Full-time, long-term employees (of which there are apparently few) did say they were treated better.
Also… United Foodservice and Commercial Workers Local 135 president Mickey Kasparian announced a proposed three year contract with Rite Aid stores via social media last night. The ratification vote by UFCW workers is scheduled for October 7th.
The union also successfully advocated for a modification from the Federal Trade Commission allowing Albertsons to re-hire former employees without incurring “the risk of being accused of violating” its contract with Haggen.
Study: 610 Law Enforcement Homicides in California Over Six-year Period
The Atlantic has a story about the findings of an ACLU study aimed at understanding how many people have been killed by law enforcement in California.
California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest” over a six-year period ending in 2014.
That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”
Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”
Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.
Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.
The Atlantic story also points out that juxtaposing the ACLU’s figures with The Guardian’s ongoing study indicates that official state figures may be on the low side, noting it has documented 149 people killed by law enforcement in California during 2015
Over the six year period of the ACLU study, San Diego averaged 32 killings per 100,000 population. Los Angeles topped the list with 194 and San Francisco held the bottom spot with just 9 per 100,000.
OB Elementary Parents Protest Teacher Reductions
The OB Rag reports that residents took to the streets–rain be damned– in protest over the reassignment of Kindergarten teachers Amie Frank and Katy Amberg from the community’s elementary school.
OB Elementary Principal Marco Drapeau said the reassignment was due to an unexpected drop in enrollment.
From the OB Rag story:
Part of the problem is the constant flux of families in the area. The large amount of parents in the military means many times students have to leave. Parents and teachers also pointed to the growing number of short-term vacation rentals eating up possible housing for families….
…Parents and students held signs on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to protest the changes, gaining attention from a throng of television crews and honks of support from drivers passing by.
One of those parents was Suzy Reid, has a student at OB Elementary and has been a vocal supporter of school causes in the past. She says it’s an unnecessary challenge facing parents, especially since the school year is almost a month old.
“It makes it hard as a parent because we have to tell the children they have a new teacher,” she said. “Chaos will ensue. It’s a disruption. And we don’t even know how long it will take to get over.”
Parents and students from OB Elementary are planning to voice their frustrations at the Oct 6th School Board meeting (5 p.m. at 4100 Normal St.).
On This Day: 1880 – The National League kicked the Cincinnati Reds out for selling beer. 1961 – President John F. Kennedy advised American families to build or buy bomb shelters to protect them in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. 1986 – Some 1,700 female flight attendants won an 18-year, $37 million suit against United Airlines. They had been fired for getting married.
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