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We were all troubled by the news Saturday about the rampage in Tucson. If you care about public affairs, it was an especially horrifying morning. The most basic expression of our form of government — a representative interacting with her constituents — was assaulted. As was the promise that we can disagree and that nobody will violently impose their view on us.
The victims included a 9-year-old girl who, by all accounts, was intrigued by politics and government.
The chairmen of the Republican Party of San Diego County and the San Diego County Democratic Party decided to issue a joint statement. And no matter what it said, just doing that itself was a statement.
A couple of other notes on the tragedy:
• A San Diegan will have the job of representing the suspect, according to The New York Times: “Judy Clarke, a federal public defender who has handled major cases, has been appointed to represent Mr. Loughner, CNN reported. Ms. Clarke has defended Theodore J. Kaczynski, who was convicted in the Unabomber attacks, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the Qaeda operative.”
• And the U-T recalls U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ year in San Diego.
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It’s Legal! (Or Not!) Trust Me
Both San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and the former head of the Centre City Development Corp. have used legal opinions recently to make separate cases about major issues the city is facing. The problem? Those legal opinions aren’t public, so we’re supposed to just trust what the leaders say about them.
Reporter Liam Dillon looks into this phenomenon and finds that “circumstances over the past few months have raised potential inconsistencies in how the city uses its legal privilege.”
Check into this for more background on DeMaio’s contention (that he can slash the city’s pension burden without dramatically affecting city workers’ current take-home pay). And for more on what Fred Maas is talking about (that the city can’t or shouldn’t hand off convention center debt to its redevelopment agency) you can read this discussion of the city’s priorities.
A Stadium, for Free
A powerful message is coming out of downtown Los Angeles. As big shots there debate locations for a new football stadium, one of them is upping the public relations ante: promising, repeatedly, that no taxpayer money would be needed if the city elects to go with his plan.
The New York Times profiled what it described as a “bruising fight” between LA-area developer Ed Roski and billionaire sports marketing magnate Philip Anschutz for the privilege of building the NFL a new home in LA. Actually, it was more of a fight between their two top deputies respectively.
Tim Leiweke, who represents Anschutz and his company, AEG, told the Times they’d not rely on taxpayers to help fund a new stadium.
And LA Times columnist Steve Lopez relays this encounter with Leiweke:
“In fact, he leaned forward in his seat, looked me in the eyes and promised that this would be ‘a completely private stadium.’ AEG, he said, which is owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, would not consider taking ‘a penny from taxpayers.’”
Of course, the San Diego Chargers are always one of the teams mentioned as possibly moving to this new home. But taxpayers here might now wonder why they’d be asked to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to a new stadium if a business leader in LA as prominent as Anschutz thinks he can make it pencil out without public financing.
Almost makes you want to see them do that just to set a new standard.
The Governor Is King
Across the state, residents have expressed outrage about former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to commute the sentence of Esteban Nuñez the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a stabbing death at SDSU. The father of one of the victims of the assault, who didn’t die, had this chilling reaction to Schwarzenegger’s move. The district attorney, who prosecuted the case, was on KPBS last week fielding emotional calls from residents. I discussed it on Editor’s Roundtable Friday and we gave Schwarzenegger the “Goat of the Week” on our KOGO show Saturday.
The former governor apparently even called the DA to express regret that he didn’t consult with her or victims before he made his decision.
Reporter Will Carless, though, explored the legal issues and finds this: “a consensus has emerged among those studying the legal options available to the Californian people in the Nuñez case: There are none.”
A Win for Everyone
If you missed it, the U-T had a rare bit of good news about positive leadership and opposite ends of a hotly contested debate coming together. Critics of the way the Port of San Diego has handled the North Embarcadero Visionary Project have agreed to a compromise.
Critics were assuaged by promises for open space and a plaza at Lane Field. They agreed not to oppose the plan at the Coastal Commission, which had earlier blocked the project based on their concerns. And the U-T editorial board credits labor leader Lorena Gonzalez, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, port Commissioner Scott Peters and Steve Cushman and the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition led by Ian Trowbridge for the breakthrough.
Now, the two sides can report to the California Coastal Commission that they’ve settled their differences and, hopefully, improvements can go forward at the intersection of Broadway and Harbor Drive and some of the other plans for San Diego’s front porch.
Anyone who lives on the Point Loma peninsula knows that, on Sunday, you have to do a little planning to avoid congestion near the Rock Church in Liberty Station. Some neighbors of the church have recently caused a stir with a class-action lawsuit alleging that the developer of homes at the former Naval Training Center failed to disclose this future problem.
One of the claims neighbors make is that 15,000 people visit the church on Sundays. The Fact Check decided to look into that and found that it was “barely true.” The church has very detailed attendance records lawyers for the neighbors don’t dispute.
We graphed out attendance and the graph is interesting itself. (Hint: If you want to avoid traffic, might want to avoid the 10 a.m. session.)
Two Cathedrals, Two Ideological Blogs
On Saturday, two progressive young thinkers launched Two Cathedrals, a new blog for a left-wing perspective on local San Diego politics (or as they call it, a “fact-devoid, ideological spam blocker.”) In case you were curious, the name hails from a memorable “West Wing” episode.
Two Cathedrals joins San Diego Rostra, the right-wing forum, in trying to provide a platform for people to share their points of view from that angle. CityBeat recently called Rostra a “virtual meeting place of sorts” for local conservatives.
More and more, groups are realizing that they can’t hope to get their message out via a media that still is losing resources and control over public discourse. Rather than just passing along messages from partisans and activists, we believe professional journalists need to focus on making sense of what these leaders say and finding out the things they don’t want to say.