Morning Report: Clash Over Union Pacts Makes Ballot

 

A ballot battle is now set: San Diego voters will consider a measure that aims to block union-friendly labor agreements that are sometimes used on major construction projects.

The city announced yesterday that proponents of the measure had collected enough signatures to push it onto the ballot. It’s expected to go before voters next June.

To win the ballot box battle, local labor groups will have to push back against a tide of voter support of similar measures in San Diego County, Chula Vista and Oceanside.

Why does it matter? “City officials used a project labor agreement to build Petco Park downtown and could decide to use it again for large public projects under discussion, such as a proposed Chargers stadium or Convention Center expansion,” Keegan Kyle reports.

With conservatives eyeing a pension reform measure for the same election, next summer’s ballot could be full of conservative vs. union battles. The measure that qualified Tuesday would achieve one of the goals that Councilman Carl DeMaio hoped to before his major initiative last year failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot. 

Want to know more about project labor agreements? Check out our video explainer.

City Sues 12 Medi-Pot Shops

The city is suing 12 medical marijuana shops, saying they violate zoning rules by being too close to schools and need to shut down, the Union-Tribune reports. An attorney for several of the shops says the city screwed up, among other things failing to notice that two of the shops aren’t actually near schools.

The move comes two months after the City Council struck down its dispensary regulations in the face of a ballot challenge from medical marijuana activists who thought the rules were too strict.

The Battle for Barrio Logan

The city wants to set a new path for the little neighborhood of Barrio Logan, a jumbled mix of industry and homes. It’s planning to separate residents from the maritime industries lined up along the port, making Barrio Logan more friendly to residents.

That’s set up a clash with businesses, who say a rezoning effort will keep them from expanding and providing jobs in the area next to San Diego Bay.

“The new zoning plan will be a critical tool for defining the neighborhood’s future,” writes Adrian Florido, “because it will set the rules for what type of development can happen, and where.”

DeMaio’s Street Improvement Plan

DeMaio, who’s also running for mayor, is out with a new plan to fix the city’s decrepit roads: he supports “mandating a certain percentage of the city’s revenue growth go to street maintenance,” the U-T reports. He’d like to see voters consider the idea.

Pothole gross!” tweeted our Liam Dillon, sending out a photo of a pothole DeMaio pointed to as part of a promotion of his streets plan. Reminds me of a famous take-off on Time magazine’s writing style: “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.”

 

Duress? Pshaw, Says Court

Picture this, writes University of San Diego law professor/blogger Shaun Martin: “You’re hanging out at your house in Mexico. Two armed men come to your home and tell you to smuggle marijuana across the border or else you and your family will be killed. They tell you that they’ll be watching you at the border. They take you away at gunpoint, put you in a car, and tell you to drive. You fear that they’re watching you and that, at the slightest misstep, they’ll kill your family. You drive to the border.”

Should you face a conviction on the U.S. side for marijuana smuggling and not be able to use duress as an excuse? Yup, said federal prosecutors in San Diego. And now, a federal appeals court agrees in a new ruling, saying the guy had opportunities to contact authorities.

Martin isn’t impressed, writing that the court is essentially saying “Even if there was an unstated (yet entirely understandable) fear they’d kill your family as a result, we don’t care.” Martin’s view: “I’m not sure the law needs to compel such a dangerous choice.”

The Perfect Denver Bronco: It Never Says a Word

Our photographer was at the Denver airport over the weekend and captured an image of a blue bucking bronco statue. Turns out the three-year-old statue — “electric-eyed, cobalt blue and anatomically correct” — has a history of “freaking more than a few people out,” the New York Times reported in 2009.

Kibbles and Tidbits

• There’s yet another financial complication for the arts district at the former Naval Training Center. The nonprofit that runs the district wants the city to kick in more money after it found out it must pay more workers a government-set wage in its next renovations. 

• Also in arts, we hear about what’s in Balboa Park basements. Hints: One of the world’s largest rattlesnake collections and perhaps, at one time, pieces of the Enola Gay.

• “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” a famous undercover expose of life at San Diego’s Clairemont High, appears on longform.org’s new list of great journalistic stories about high school.

Cameron Crowe, who’d go on to become a top screenwriter, attended Clairemont High undercover in 1979 and wrote a story about his experiences while changing various names (including that of the school). He also wrote a book-turned-movie, which was recently named one of the most sought-after out-of-print books.

You can check out excerpts of the 1981 Playboy story, including details about stoner surfer Jeff Spicoli and history teacher Mr. Hand, who’d find immortality in the movie.

“Most people in high school look like their names. Mr. Hand was a perfect example,” Crowe writes. “He had a porous, oblong face, just like a thumbprint. His stiff black hair rose up off his forehead like that of a late-night television evangelist. Even at eight in the morning, his yellow Van Heusen shirt was soaked at the armpits.”

Mr. Hand also made this proclamation on the first day of school: “Functioning in life is the hidden postulate of education.”

I couldn’t have said it worse-er myself.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

 

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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