Every June, hordes of bicyclists gather in cities from London to San Francisco to protest the world’s dependence on oil and promote bike riding. There’s a twist: Many of them take off all their clothes and pedal down the street in the buff.
This tends to draw attention.
The event is called the World Naked Bike Ride (no, not the World Severe Chafing Ride), and one is planned for San Diego next week.
The problem: the city, like many of its residents, frowns on naked people in public places. The solution, at least for the bike riders, may be a lawsuit.
The organizer’s attorney, who plans to file suit against San Diego today, argues that going clothes-free is a matter of free speech. The city has other ideas.
A federal judge may ultimately decide whether protesting bicyclists have a right to expose more than their opinions.
In other news:
• A five-bedroom women’s shelter in La Mesa is like no other in town. It doesn’t serve battered wives and girlfriends. Instead, it takes in victims of sex trafficking: San Diego is an international hub for prostitution.
Some of the women who live at the home are from other parts of the world. Others are local. What they share in common is victimhood and a desire to create new lives for themselves.
In our story, we profile the woman who runs the shelter, talk to one of the young women who live there and hear from the police about how they try to help victims of sex trafficking. We also learn how the girls get educated and gain insight into “animal therapy” courtesy of a friendly pooch.
• Earlier this month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis made a pretty bold statement to the North County Times: she said her office hadn’t hired anyone in two years.
In our latest Fact Check, we pored through public records about hiring in the DA’s office and found that “her office hired numerous people no matter which two-year time period she was talking about.”
There has been a hiring freeze in place since March 2009. That’s 14 months, not two years.
What does Dumanis have to say about it?
Nothing: Her office won’t talk to us.
• Want to recycle that cup of yogurt, tub of mayonnaise or mammoth Costco-size container of cottage cheese? You’re in luck, sort of: the city of San Diego is now allowing the recycling of the plastic containers that often contain dairy products.
Sort of? Yup: you can’t throw them into those blue bins. You’ll have to take them to the Miramar Landfill.
Our story from 2008 looks into why the city didn’t allow them to be recycled in the first place.
• Next week, San Diego voters will decide whether they’d like to stick with a strong-mayor system or return to the old system of a weak mayor. At first glance, it sounds like a mighty ho-hum issue. But newly released campaign funding records show just how seriously some people — those in favor — are taking it.
We’ve posted a series of stories analyzing who’s funding what and why.
One story lists the major donors to the yes-on-Prop.-D campaign. They include Cox Communications, the Sycuan Indian band, an AT&T employee political action committee and others. Overall, donors have spent $318,818 since last November.
Wait, the cable company? Yes, and it didn’t just give money: it donated almost $24,000 worth of free air time to the campaign. Is that legal? Yes, it is, and Cox doesn’t have to provide equal time to anyone.
We also explore why two local labor organizations aren’t making a stink about Prop D, even though they campaigned heavily against the idea of a strong mayor in 2004.
• The big-money school board race this year is in the district that represents some of the northeastern sections of the city. We’ve got the numbers.
Also in education news, a troubled charter school in the Barrio Logan neighborhood is now in limbo.
• The latest edition of Fact Check TV — including a “Factual Emergency Warning” (Whoop-whoop! Red Alert! Man battle stations!) — is up.
• Is there a breakthrough on the bayfront? The U-T reports that both sides in the debate about the North Embarcadero Visionary Project have agreed to sit down for a series of discussions next week hosted by the Urban Land Institute. Perhaps if they can come to some understanding, the ambitious reimagining of such a valuable stretch of land can move forward.
• Following up on its revelations about City Council candidate Lorie Zapf’s mortgage woes, CityBeat reports on her husband’s mortgage and tax defaults in Nevada. “Lorie Zapf is running for City Council, not her husband,” her campaign manager told the paper, which also reports that she worked for her husband’s real-estate firm.
• The U-T also has some new details about layoffs at the San Diego News Network (hint: apparently not all of its salaried staff were let go).
• A new survey estimates there are 300 homeless people living downtown, and half of them are women. (U-T)
• Up in Vista, local merchants are speaking out about a proposed ban on those sign-twirlers who promote local businesses. Among those who spoke up: a guy from Gems N’ Loans (now there’s a combo for you) and one from Liberty Tax Service (which I can only assume has a sign-twirler wearing a Statute of Liberty costume).
Another tidbit from an NCT story: the sign-twirlers are also known as “human directionals,” which makes them sound like weather vanes.
• Finally, a Virginia company is working with a UCSD professor to count the penguin population in Antarctica with the help of satellite images.
Shh. Don’t give the U.S. Census Bureau any ideas.