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As the city absorbs what San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne called an unprecedented spike in alleged police misconduct, we reveal how Lansdowne quietly disbanded a seven-member anticorruption unit shortly after he took office in 2003.

It’s the exact unit that would be investigating the latest troubling news: A police officer accused of rape and kidnapping and removed from duty.

San Diego created the unit in the early 1990s with much fanfare but when the chief cut it in 2003, he offered no public notice.

Lansdowne’s aide explained that the chief felt specialists, as opposed to general investigators, were better for all criminal probes, even internal ones. And, he said, budget constraints made the unit’s cost difficult to maintain. (Full story)

We also discussed the crisis in the police department on KPBS’ Roundtable Friday. And in the Union-Tribune, two former SDPD police officers offer a way to identify troubled cops.


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City Makes a Retiree Health Care Deal

It says a lot about how big a liability is — and how much it’s been ignored — when cutting it by hundreds of millions of dollars doesn’t actually relieve the city of any of the pressure threatening libraries and other city services this year.

As Liam Dillon explains, the deal the City Council just signed off on is being touted as putting to rest one of the scariest ghosts haunting the city: Its promise to employees that it would pay for their health care until they die.

Critics, though, say the city had a chance to cut the benefit more, if not all of the way. And now that chance is lost. In our latest roundup of opinions and your comments, we organize the arguments.

And don’t forget our handy explainer about the deal if you need to catch up.

Reporting from Tijuana

For our weekend Q&A, we interviewed Vicente Calderón from TijuanaPress.com.

He describes how tricky reporting from the “conflict zone” can be:

“You could just be covering a car accident and the driver could be linked to some group that doesn’t want their picture taken.”

And he tells of an irony: He’s seen reporters from the United States and the rest of the world withdraw from Tijuana as the media continues to go through a correction. (“I know that because I used to work with them …”) But at the same time, he points out how it’s never been easier to deal with the government as a reporter there.

Maybe those aren’t unrelated phenomena.

We’ve Got Pics

Have you gotten your copy of “Our People, Our Places” VOSD’s new book of photography? A supporter of ours wrote me a great line about it: “It is really a wonderful look at San Diego. It reminds us that the San Diego we have in mind may not be the real San Diego at all.”

We just posted pictures of our public release party.

SD Scientists Deliver Stem Cell Setback

Promising tissue made from stem cells that doctors hope might treat some of the most perplexing diseases can be rejected from a person’s body by his or her immune system, even though the stem cells came from them. It was assumed that wouldn’t be a problem until a UCSD scientist put it to the test.

LA Times: Dumanis’ Suit Should Sink

The LA Times opines that the governor should retain the right to commute sentences of felons without notifying their victims’ families. The paper says District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ case would “turn yet one more function of government into a committee meeting or a public referendum.” Read more about her legal reasoning here.

Rapper Plus Jazz = Intrigue

Kelly Bennett walked into a church and found a rapper and some of the finest jazz musicians in the room. They’ve got something cooking.

What We Learned This Week

What a City Stadium Consultant Did(n’t) Do for Us: Liam Dillon revealed the quiet end of a consultant’s contract with the city of San Diego. The hired gun was supposed to come up with a plan for how the city could fund a new stadium. After $160,000 and some “unforeseeable factors” no plan could come together.

We Still Don’t Know Why DA Passed on SEDC Case: We’ve been asked this relentlessly since charges were brought against two former executives at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. Here’s what we do know.

A New Deal for the Convention Center Expansion: Any attempt in San Diego to raise hotel room taxes for police, streets or parks and arts would likely get crushed by the city’s political atmosphere. Two attempts failed in 2004. But no ruckus has been raised for a hike in the hotel room tax for a new Convention Center. Here’s what to look for now.

Quote of the Week

“That is what started this whole ball of actions,” an unnamed police officer alleging that the disbanding of an anticorruption unit at SDPD helped lead to the rash of recent problems with personnel at the department.

You can contact me directly at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!): twitter.com/vosdscott.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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