His name was Bentley Do. He was two, and he choked to death in Mira Mesa on Tuesday, possibly because fire crews couldn’t get to him fast enough. The slower-than-usual response time may have been caused by city budget cuts.
It’s likely that you’ll hear a lot about little Bentley over the next few months: why he died and what went wrong and what might be set right.
His death came in the middle of a debate over how the city should raise money to pay for the services it provides.
Yesterday, the fire department held a press conference to talk about Bentley and not-so-subtly cast a spotlight on cutbacks that have led to “brownouts.” And on the same day, a City Council committee agreed to move forward with talk of a sales tax hike on the November ballot.
Our story looks at the politics surrounding a child’s death and the rising prospects for the tax increase.
In other news:
• There’s more to getting voters to approve a new $294 million City Hall than just asking them to. Supporters of the new building proposal, which will be on the ballot in November, think they may have to spend as much as a million dollars to convince voters to play ball.
Where’s the money going to come from? Some downtown big shots argued that the City Council should have left the voters out of the equation and simply approved the new City HVall on its own. So the question now is whether these same movers and shakers will open their wallets.
“We need a new City Hall. However, the City Council makes it more burdensome on people like me, quite frankly,” says a real estate mogul who declared last fall that 99 percent of voters wouldn’t be able to decipher the arguments in favor of a new building. (He surely meant voters other than you and I. We’re smart and stuff.)
There’s another potential hurdle: will any organized opposition appear? If so, will it spend money on ads?
• When they want to get it on, they head to the beach. Grunion are the fish whose strange mating habits make them one of San Diego’s most well-known local creatures. We explain what they’re up to on the sand and what you’re allowed to do with them.
• A local planning group member told KPBS-FM that about 600 people are arrested for drunken driving in Pacific Beach each year. That’s a whole lot. Could the number possibly be true? Our fact checkers are on the case and have the answer.
• If you were a kid (or had a kid) in these parts anytime over the past few decades, you’ve probably spent some time on the Wild Animal Park’s Wgasa Bush Line. That’s the now-defunct monorail that shuttled visitors around the safari-themed park.
That’s an interesting name, Wgasa. Sounds African. But wait: The U-T just reported the name had a much less exotic and naughty origin.
Could that possibly be true? San Diego Fact Check has investigated this Very Important Issue of Serious Import and the verdict is in.
One more thing: Do you have a photo of yourself riding the Wild Animal Park monorail as a kid? The first person to email me a scanned copy of such a photo will get a special mention in tomorrow’s Morning Report. Fame and fortune will follow.
• Real-estate and economy columnist Rich Toscano tracks local unemployment numbers on a graph — he’s going to impale himself on one of those spikes someday — and finds they don’t say quite what they look like they’re saying.
• The San Diego Explained video series takes a look at public records and how you can get your hot little hands on them.
• It’s all over: Juan Vargas has won the Democratic primary in the 40th state senate district. The race was close — 22 votes close — and second-placer Mary Salas paid for a recount. But the results didn’t go her way, and she conceded yesterday. (U-T)
• The feds won’t charge anyone in 2006’s infamous mass firing of U.S. attorneys, including San Diego’s Carol Lam. (KPBS)
• CityBeat reports that Councilman Carl DeMaio, an unlikely suspect for this kind of thing, has a big plan to help homeless people get off the street. It involves the city, county, property tax revenue and redevelopment negotiations. CB also gives Councilman Kevin Faulconer a firm thwacking over his “obsession with the ban on ticketing homeless people for sleeping in public.”
• The U-T takes a look at the consulting firm behind the “much ballyhooed” study that touted Petco Park’s financial impact on downtown. The U-T did much of the ballyhooing, but never mind. Turns out the consultant “has a record of sunny stadium forecasts” (no wonder they keep getting hired) and may explore the Chargers’ prospects downtown.
• A local brokerage is facing fire over a $5 million Ponzi scheme allegedly cooked up by one of its brokers in Michigan. Now it gets weird: the broker himself may have been snookered by an even wider Ponzi scheme that targeted Detroit churches. The name of the broker’s company was TGBG Financial — To God Be Glory.
• Finally, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune ponders this week’s San Diego Comic-Con (destination for a “geek pilgrimage”) and wonders if superheroes are over. With the A-List heroes exhausted, Hollywood is left flogging obscure models like the Green Lantern: “Who’s his arch-enemy, the Red Flashlight?” (Green Lanterns are widely known! And so are their enemies. –Ed.)
Anyway, Green Lantern has a new foe, a notorious evildoer that we all remember from our childhoods: The Dead Battery.