By Doug Porter
The Chargers are an apt metaphor for San Diego politics.
Both are led by a skilled and popular quarterback, yet unable to score when push comes to shove. Both suffer from a foundational rot, precluding the fixes the public is led to believe would address their obvious shortcomings.
One year ago, the football team announced it would be playing in San Diego through 2015. This year the only question seems to be what date the moving vans will be pulling out.
Sunday could well be their last appearance at Qualcomm stadium. However, our feckless mayor will have to wait a few years before moving on. It’s likely he’s also headed upstate.
Here’s Kevin Acee from the Union-Tribune:
In recent days alone: The NFL has reportedly committed $100 million extra to St. Louis’ stadium effort; a key NFL owner blasted the political machinery in San Diego; and that owner had his office inform the office of San Diego’s mayor that their meeting scheduled for Thursday doesn’t fit in the calendar.
“In San Diego, they’ve been trying for about 15 years,” Texans owner Bob McNair, a member of the NBL’s Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, told the Houston Chronicle. “They’ve had all kinds of political problems there. At one time, half the council went to jail or something. It’s been pretty bad. It’s hard to negotiate when you’ve got to go to the jail to negotiate.
“So they haven’t accomplished anything. They’re saying they’re going to do something now. But in order to do it, they’d have to have a referendum and the referendum isn’t until next June. Well, we can’t have these teams in limbo. You need to have certainty, and you don’t know if the referendum would pass or fail. We can’t take what they’re saying very seriously.”
NBC7 News reports fans are unloading Chargers memorabilia on Craigslist. Prices are falling faster than Bridgepoint Education, Inc. stock.
If you’ve always had a burning desire for a Chargers Pez dispenser, a Bolt-inspired shower curtain or the hundreds of other trinkets you can snatch up on the Internet, now’s your chance.
The winding down of the team’s 2015 season – and according to many analysts and online commenters, the end of the team being called the San Diego Chargers – has prompted a free-for-all of fan gear on Craigslist.
Just type “Chargers” in on the vendor site and more than 1,200 results will show up, including a number of hits for tickets to the Chargers-Dolphins game this Sunday.
San Diego Homelessness = Lodging Without Consent
For all the cheerleading from local politicians, you’d think the tent city along 17th street in downtown doesn’t exist. But it’s there, a daily testament to the shortcomings of the humans living there and the government that ignores them.
Many of them used to camp out a couple blocks over but were forced out as the towering 35 story Pinnacle opened its sales offices.
Another encampment “disappeared” on the day local politicians summoned the press to announce plans to increase the number of emergency shelter beds from 350 to 600 this winter during El Nino rainstorms and other inclement weather.
Now comes news that a tiny house in the middle of the remaining tent city gifted to a homeless man was confiscated by the local gendarmes. And the icing on the cake was the arrest of Red, aka Michael Clark, charged with heinous crimes of “encroaching and lodging without consent.”
From the Union-Tribune:
Andy Aguilar, president of Jus Sayin Inc., said he was surprised to hear of Clark’s arrest because the house took up no more space than tents on the sidewalk and was built on wheels if it needed to be moved.
Clark, who said he has been homeless off and on for about 15 years, regularly cleans up the sidewalk in front of International Love Ministries of God, a five-pew church that does outreach to the homeless.
“This is where they come in to get peace and think of what’s wrong with their lives,” said Steve Murray, a pastor at the church.
From 10 News:
“Red cleans up around here every day, Red’s a good guy,” said Anthony Brown, who sleeps in a tent across the street from a church on 16th Street…
…Brown saw police arrest Red Tuesday morning.
“Had they written him a ticket and asked him to move the house he could have had plenty of help,” Brown said. “There was no discussion of a ticket. It was immediate handcuffs.”
The 4’ x 7’ structure was build using donations from an on-line fundraiser by volunteers inspired by YouTube videos of Elvis Summers, a Los Angeles man who builds similar tiny houses for homeless people in his city.
The SDPD hadn’t responded to press inquiries about the situation as of publication time for the UT or 10News.
Those Lazy Lifeguards…(Not!)
Over at City Beat, John R. Lamb (aka Spin Cycle) had a chat with former San Diego City Councilmember Ed Harris, who’s president of the lifeguard union Teamsters Local 911.
It’s a story worth reading, especially the part about the battle over whether lifeguards, like police officers and firefighters, should be entitled to so-called “presumptive coverage” for illnesses and injuries incurred in the line of duty.
The City of San Diego says “no way”. According to Harris, the reasoning at one point was that the lifeguards were simply an administrative unit of the fire department. The city now denies that was ever said.
But the fact remains that there’s something mighty stinky going on here. Harris was a thorn in the side of the mayor during his tenure as a councilman.
“Everyone pretty much knows that they’re pissed at me because of Belmont Park,” Harris told Spin Cycle this week, noting that a lengthy lease extension with operators of the Mission Beach attraction— approved by the council with much Republican swooning in April—now sits snarled up in court, courtesy of Cory Briggs, the activist attorney City Hall loves to hate.
Then in July, Harris kicked sand into the gears of a corporate sponsorship deal between the city and Tommy Bahama that resulted in more Republican hand wringing. Harris boldly told The San Diego Union-Tribune then that it was payback for the city’s stalled negotiations with its 100 fulltime lifeguards over medical coverage.
“If you don’t have enough time to deal with our health and safety issues,” Harris told the U-T, “then you shouldn’t have enough time to deal with Tommy Bahama.”
As things stand now with Gretchen Newsom out of the race, Ed Harris is the last Democrat standing who could conceivably oppose Faulconer in 2016. He told Lamb that he hadn’t made up his mind yet.
Gonzalez: Organizing the Gig Economy
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez plans introduce a bill in January that would allow gig workers to bargain collectively with companies like Uber or Lyft. Last week the City of Seattle passed a similar bill allowing drivers who perform a minimum number of trips to organize.
“It’s time for California to set the stage to do something like this,” said Gonzalez. “I see the frustration of people who want the flexibility to work, and want to collectively have a voice.”
While hundreds of drivers for Uber and Lyft, along with union supporters, packed the Seattle council chambers and burst into applause when the measure passed, it is not clear how many California drivers want the right to collectively organize. But experts said simply creating the framework will be momentous.
“Workers in this gig economy need a process to exercise their voices,” said Rebecca Smith, deputy director at the National Employment Law Project in Seattle. “There is a kind of ‘if you build it, they will come’ aspect to the passage of such laws. There might be much more organizing once workers know they can be protected from retaliation and that there’s actually a mechanism to get them to a contract.”
Good Journalism’s Breaking Out All Over
Some days it’s just downright depressing, scanning through story after story about The Donald’s blathering or K-Faulc’s press conference claiming credit for the sun rising in the east.
Just in time for Christmas, there has been a real burst of extraordinary long-form stories worth reading.
Kelly Davis (former City Beat editor) gets two mentions:
- A story at the Intercept about abuses in solitary confinement in the Santa Clara county jail system, with larger implications for how county lock-ups throughout the state function.
- A story in the Union-Tribune (she’s really getting around) about suicides in San Diego County’s system. Supposedly the problem, which she’s previously reported on, had been fixed. Now, maybe not.
The folks at non-profit ProPublica also have two recent must-read stories.
- In collaboration with the Marshall Project, ProPublica has published a powerful story about an investigation into a serial rapist and one of his victims, who was prosecuted for filing a false report.
- Another tale of failure at the American Red Cross following the decision to bring in former AT&T executive Gail McGovern to run the non-profit. Made my skin crawl. And it’s just the latest in a series of revelations.
The Guardian’s five-part series on the nation’s most lethal police in Kern County is a portrayal of law enforcement run amok.
Finally, the Atlantic has published an insider account of DEA failure in the “War on Drugs” starting with the takedown of the Arellano Félix Organization, the cartel that once controlled the border crossing from Tijuana to San Diego. UPDATE: I just realized it was co-published with ProPublica. Damn. That’s a lot of stories…
On This Day: 1791 – A traffic regulation in New York City established the first street to go “One Way.” 1969 – The U.S. Air Force closed its Project “Blue Book” by concluding that there was no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings. 1977 – Elvis Costello and the Attractions appeared on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in place of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols could not get visas to enter the U.S.
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