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In 2007, Mayor Jerry Sanders set the ambitious goal of getting 75 percent of the city of San Diego’s roads in good condition by the end of his administration.
Now, despite the boost of a $100 million loan, the mayor is not only falling well short of that goal, he’s going backwards. Today, just 35 percent of roads are in good condition, down from 37 percent four years ago.
Those figures add up to an unfortunate admission: That roads have gotten worse in Sanders’ tenure despite his bold proclamations and the aggressive borrowing plan.
Last month, our special report detailed how bureaucratic and historical problems had left the city unable to repair its infrastructure faster than it decayed. Give our reader’s guide a look for an easy, quick understanding of the issue.
• Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre has become a regular participant in our comments section, and he chimes in on today’s story with this proposal: “Voters must be asked to approve a very large bond something in the $1billion range to pay for the needed repairs. This means a tax increase.”
Aguirre’s also back in the pension game. He’s filed a complaint against the county of San Diego’s retirement fund, claiming that it’s turned to risky investing to cope with the costs of sizable benefit boosts supervisors granted in 2002. “As bad as the city was, they didn’t try to become a hedge fund and they didn’t farm out the investment function,” Aguirre told the Union-Tribune.
Luckily, we have a trusty 350-word guide for just this occasion: While the city has hogged the pension spotlight because of allegations of misconduct, the county’s benefits have put just as much of a burden on its bottom line — with the added complication of risky investments.
Library Donors All Lined Up
For those of you who’ve been fretting over the money needed to finish the new downtown library, fret no more. The Union-Tribune’s editorial breaks some important news:
In coming weeks, elated San Diego officials will likely stage a couple of news conferences to announce that commitments have been won for the final donations needed for the new central library now taking shape in steel and concrete in downtown’s East Village. It will mark the end of a teapot tempest over whether the money could be raised by the end of the year as required.
As one of the architects of said teapot, let me first say: congratulations. We’ve been closely following the fundraising efforts because, if the money didn’t come in, either taxpayers would be on the hook or the project would be stalled even longer. If the money is raised, it will likely end the three-decade-long struggle to get the library built and fully funded.
The editorial says talks with corporate and individual donors are under way to bring in the needed $32.5 million by Dec. 31. And it ties the donations in with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street dialogue, saying “Civic-minded 1 percenters are giving back, and all of San Diego will be better for it.”
Two Complaints Against Officer, Two Different Results
Perri Spiller had a unique insight into the sexual bribery complaints against former San Diego cop Anthony Arevalos. One of Spiller’s friend said Arevalos had solicited a favor in exchange for letting her off a DUI charge. The friend complained but the complaint went nowhere. Then, 18 months later, a second friend had an eerily similar encounter. That friend also complained. This time, it got traction with police and led to an investigation that backed up both stories.
Keegan Kyle tells the tale through Spiller’s stories, showing how the Police Department missed an opportunity to detect the downtown cop’s alleged behavior. Between the first and second complaints, five other women say the same officer solicited sexual bribes from them during traffic stops.
• Meanwhile, a former deputy district attorney is being accused of improperly using his authority against women. Ernie Marugg Jr. is accused in a legal complaint against the county of San Diego of pursuing romantic relationships with up to a half-dozen women after prosecuting them. In one case, a woman said Marugg constantly contacted her after agreeing to reduce her fraud conviction to a misdemeanor. (U-T)
Civil Rights Hero Celebrated
San Diego this weekend hosted the christening of a new Navy ship in the name of late civil rights leader Medgar Evers. (NBC 7 San Diego) His widow did the honors, saying “I will not have to go to bed ever again wondering whether anyone will remember who Medgar Evers is.” (Time)
Drugs, Both In and Out of Pharmacies
• Conservative Congressman Brian Bilbray’s daughter has become an unlikely spokeswoman for the medical marijuana movement. A cancer survivor, the 25-year-old Briana Bilbray has now stepped out to speak out against — and challenge in court — the federal government’s crackdown on profit-making California collectives. Her pops doesn’t agree with her. (U-T)
• Law enforcement authorities say prescription drug addicts are increasingly targeting pharmacies, and in some cases only going after the drugs, not any cash. (North County Times)
Both housing prices and inventory remained stable last month. Not too thrilling, Rich Toscano notes.”On the other hand, these days, perhaps price stability of any asset is news in itself.”
So That’s What ‘Special Projects’ Means?
When Gerry Braun moved from the Union-Tribune to the Mayor’s Office, San Diego’s journalism community shed a tear. He’s an immensely talented reporter and storyteller. There was always one mystery that gnawed in our minds though: his title. Director of Special Projects. It sounded at once suspicious and exciting. What exactly did it mean?
This weekend we might have gotten an answer. Responding to the event our Adrian Florido co-hosted with other media and community groups on food justice in City Heights, Braun asked on Twitter if Adrian knew that his editor had once ridiculed the term “food justice” on the radio.
When pressed to explain what he meant, he rather quickly produced notes from a 2009 KPBS radio show. (Turns out I’d mocked the term “food insecurity,” wondering why we shouldn’t just call it “hunger.”)
As Scott Lewis noted, Braun’s instant recall on the words of a local journalist was a bit scary. “[Y]ou got that from notes? I’m suddenly in awe (and intimidated) by your archive,” Lewis said.
So, I figured having such impressive files on us all might finally explain that job title.
“Language is my hobby, not part of my job description,” he responded.
The mystery endures.
I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0526.