It’s a special Presidents’ Day edition of the Morning Report.
President George W. Bush had a nuanced view about immigration but he was solidly in support of construction of a new wide, high-tech, fence along border.
He was so concerned with its construction that his administration insisted it be allowed to avoid environmental laws related to construction projects. One of the rules would have forced the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to cultivate erosion-control plants on the hills it created around the new fence.
The agency claimed it did that planting anyway, but we found both the hills and their claims barren. Now, after congressional inquiries and concern on this side of the border, the agency wanted us all to know that things had changed. And they appear to have definitely gotten greener.
- By the way, the LA Times has an engrossing update (with a great photo) on the latest, $57.7 million, 3.6-mile spur of the fence being built over Otay Mountain.
- Now we have a new president, Barack Obama, and while he hasn’t done much in the immigration field, he has declared war on the decline in the housing market, helping push the government to spend billions and billions incentivizing homeowners, buying mortgages and keeping interest rates low.
It seemed to work for a while, but our analyst Rich Toscano found that home sales plummeted between January and February. Toscano admits that sales usually fall during this time of year but “not to this extent.” In case you missed it, Toscano has also notice home prices start to turn downward again.
- Education reporter Emily Alpert is seeking some feedback from local teachers about whether and how they are using interactive white boards and other technology. If you can help her, please do.
- If you’re following the saga of the county’s social services we’ve been working on, you’ll want to see this quick follow-up on one family’s continuing attempt to get food stamps. “I feel like a criminal,” said the mother.
- Getting back to Presidents’ Day, one of President Obama’s most difficult decisions was whether or not to back off on the war in Afghanistan or increase troop presence and aggressiveness. He chose the latter and the Union-Tribune on Saturday pushed out a project telling the story of local Marines and how they are preparing. It is part analysis of the war, part narrative of the local impact and part description of what the warfighters are going to face.
- Local talk monger Roger Hedgecock has been blistering in his attack on President Obama for what he says is a “jihad” on Toyota that Obama and the federal owners of GM — “Government Motors” — are perpetrating. But as the U-T makes clear today, it is actually San Diego’s Republican Congressman Darrell Issa who is “in the driver’s seat” of the federal response and oversight to what’s been happening to the carmaker since August when a San Diego family was killed, prompting a massive recall.
- The U-T also has interesting stories about National City’s dreams of a “central park” and students at SDSU abusing neuroenhancers — drugs meant for people with attention-deficit disorder — to not only help them study but also get pumped for parties. For background, the New Yorker wrote a fascinating piece last year about neuroenhancers on college campuses and the philosophical debate about whether everyone will eventually be doing them.
- Finally, if you haven’t noticed, California’s notorious water wars seem to be heating up. The Imperial Valley Press calls a recent editorial from the North County Times “stunning in its lack of understanding of the dangers of a dried-up Salton Sea and its lack of interest in any region — or its people — other than its own.”
Perhaps we can get a president to come mediate what will inevitably be a multi-state battle for this precious resource.
— SCOTT LEWIS