Who wants to buy a soccer team?
In a new column, I wonder why those socialists in Europe often have such a different view of who should own and pay for sports stadiums (hint: not always the government). Often fans get together, buy shares of teams and help them build bigger and better stadiums.
So, with only a perfunctory effort, I secured a commitment from Major League Soccer to allow us to see if we could, European style, invest in a new professional soccer team and bring it to San Diego.
OK, not quite.
But I had fun exploring the possibility of crowdfunding a new ownership group for a soccer team. “Crowdfunding” is the new, cool way to say “raise money” with an assist from technology and social networking. I had already heard from eight people who are willing to pony up $1,000. This guy made nine.
What We Learned This Week
Teachers Union Is on the Hot Seat: The city school district’s teachers union is absorbing an outcry after a bizarre set of events. Not long ago, we profiled the union’s hostile posturing. But it announced a special collaboration this week to work with the district and a lawmaker to extend the deadline by which districts must inform teachers of possible layoffs. The heartwarming cooperation lasted exactly a day. Three teachers expressed their frustration about the whole thing quite well.
• One of those teachers’ comments made our Top Five Comments of the Week list. Did yours?
SDG&E Wants a Blank Check: The utility is asking regulators to give it what amounts to a blank check to pay for uninsured damages from the 2007 wildfires as well as any future fires, our Rob Davis wrote. If a jury finds SDG&E at fault for three 2007 fires, customer bills could go up.
The City’s Crumbling But Now There Are Plans: For our graphic of the week, Keegan Kyle illustrated how much the city was planning on spending on roads and compared it to how much it would have to spend to keep us at the current state of disrepair. It’s not a pretty picture. The district attorney, who’s running for mayor, actually was toppled this week by a pothole. This gave writer Liam Dillon a chance to, once again, explain why everything is so bad. But he also reveals new plans afoot to fix it all in one, fell swoop.
The U-T Was Offended: The paper complained that officials at the port of San Diego were “curt, dismissive and sarcastic in responding to two U-T San Diego editorials of Jan. 22 that called for public discussion of a new, much more ambitious vision of the downtown waterfront.” The U-T might keep in mind that it did accuse the port of running things like one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history. The port did not embrace the paper’s big idea. But the current plans for a Convention Center expansion and separate stadium aren’t exactly sailing through. Perhaps it will have to wait for that? Or maybe the paper can take down the port’s leadership first.
Some Taxes Are Good: Speaking of the Convention Center, all three ardently anti-tax Republican candidates for mayor support the tax hike to expand the waterfront facility. Their explanations why are interesting. When Liam Dillon asked Councilman Carl DeMaio to explain it, we ended up with a two-part fact check. DeMaio said he was OK because no general fund money would be used for the expansion. That’s just not true.
New School Bond Moving Forward
A couple of months ago, San Diego city schools trustee Scott Barnett proposed that the district put a new school bond on the November ballot and then did something unexpected. Normally, those construction bonds are strictly separated from personnel and day-to-day needs at schools. That’s why it only takes 55 percent of the vote to pass them.
But Barnett argued the bond would alleviate pressure on the district’s general fund by paying for delayed maintenance and other burdens.
He said then that the goal was to free up money for teacher salaries.
Well, it looks like the plan is going forward. And it appears to have grown. When consultant Larry Remer presented to the board in November, he projected a $30-$40 addition to property tax bills for every $100,000 of property value.
U-T San Diego reported Friday it was now $60 per $100,000 of value. (So, if you pay property taxes on a $500,000 home, it would be a $300 annual increase.)
Property owners in San Diego already pay $66.70 per $100,000 of value toward Proposition S, which runs through 2044. But construction projects have been stalled because revenues are barely paying for debt incurred previously.
What We’re Reading
Our web editor, Dagny Salas, has begun collecting the stories we read throughout the week that you might find interesting. Here’s this week’s installment.
My contribution was a story about political intelligence professionals. I’m trying to figure out the difference is between them and reputable journalists (other than they apparently make a LOT more money).
What are you reading these days? If it’s a news article, investigative report or feature, send it to Salas.
Pension Reform Provokes Heated Debate
DeMaio and Michael Zucchet, the former city councilman who now leads the largest union of city employees, had a heated debate on KPBS you can watch here. At issue is the legality of the pension reform initiative that’s heading — or was heading — to the ballot. Because of collective bargaining laws, backers have been forced to argue that Mayor Jerry Sanders did not propose the measure as mayor but as a private citizen.
The measure would give all new city employees a 401(k)-style retirement fund instead of guaranteed pensions and it says the City Council has to try to avoid across-the-board salary increases for five years. Here’s our reader’s guide to the measure.
Quote of the Week
“Down I went in a pothole,”
— Mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis, describing her spill at the hands of the city’s crumbling infrastructure.
• Gas prices are surging.
• SDG&E is making some clean energy deals.
• The New York Times is reporting that “researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego, have discovered that dust storms in Asia could help douse the Sierras with snow, bolstering California’s economy and rejuvenating its environment.”
Yay for pollution!