The City Council got a look at the extent of sidewalk dysfunction in San Diego yesterday, and it was enough to trip up any hopes of quick fixes.
While the city is going to launch a project to figure out how bad its sidewalks actually are, no recommendations about on what to do about them will come until 2015. Meanwhile, the Council learned that it takes about two years for the city to repair a sidewalk damaged by tree roots (although it may slap some ugly asphalt on it), and $170 million in requested new sidewalks awaits funding. But that money isn’t even in the city’s estimate of $1 billion needed for repairs.
For more, check our new story.
School District’s Take on Discipline Issue
Our big story about how certain types of school discipline disproportionately affect San Diego’s black and Latino students set off a blizzard of comments from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
We also heard from an official about how the school district is trying to improve the way it disciplines students. Our new story details a policy the district approved to address disciplinary disparities — but hasn’t implemented. The district wants to do things like make sure kids aren’t suspended as often if they’re homeless or have nowhere safe to go. But the process of reforming things is taking time.
Filner Sentenced as Blame Game Takes New Twist
As expected, a judge yesterday approved the plea deal for former Mayor Bob Filner, who will enter three months of house arrest (with some exceptions for outside excursions) in the new year.
Filner looked fit and rested, and for once he didn’t cast blame at the conspirators he’d previously accused of plotting against him. However, a defense memo did point the finger at a “sudden disruption in his medications, coupled with long-standing issues of anxiety and the stress of assuming a new, intensely political, executive position,” the U-T reports.
His son, former girlfriend and former wives stood by him in letters. His first wife said he’s “shown an impressive ability to understand the situation from other points of view and to adapt and change his behavior to reflect the new understanding.”
Contrary to some earlier reports, Filner will be able to run for office again, but only after he’s off probation. Also, he won’t lose his right to vote.
• Irene McCormack, who served as Filner’s communications director, helped set off the Filner saga with her allegations of workplace wrongdoing. She’s continuing to pursue her sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner and the city.
McCormack seems to have retained her position as “director of communications” under interim Mayor Todd Gloria. CityBeat tried to find out what she’s doing at the city, but ran into walls. The paper couldn’t even get an answer about whether she does work in the mayor’s office.
Gloria’s in Council’s Good Graces
The City Council unanimously voted to retain Councilman Todd Gloria as Council president, meaning he’ll continue being interim mayor for a few more weeks.
• The City Council today is scheduled to vote on whether to spend $60,000 to settle a case brought by an Occupy protester who was arrested while trying to register voters at the Civic Center Plaza.
The settlement seems to represent another black eye for the city’s legal types, who lost a big case involving a chalk-wielding protester earlier this year. According to KPBS, the protester was arrested for trespassing even though city law says political activities aren’t trespassing.
The protester is also settling with a security firm and a building management company.
• In a new blog post for the Brookings Institution, Planning Director and guy-who’s-everywhere Bill Fulton examines what new statistics say about our fair city. Here’s a tidbit you may not have heard before: “The traded goods that flow in and out of San Diego have the highest average value in the nation at $3,445 per ton. That’s 12 percent higher than San Diego’s nearest competitors,” like Silicon Valley.
Rent? Don’t Mind If I Do
Can’t afford a house or just don’t want to buy one?
In San Diego, at least, renters have lots and lots of company. Among a short list of big metro areas, we rank No. 3, according to a new chart — behind only Los Angeles and New York City — when it comes to the percentage of residents who rent. (Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include the renter haven of the Bay Area.)
And where do more people own homes instead of rent? In places like St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit, where they’re on the cheaper side.
Quick News Hits
• The U-T explores how a big increase in border patrol and customs officers has coincided with an avalanche of criminal cases involving … You guessed it: border patrol and customs officers. “Since 2004, almost 160 border officers and agents have been arrested or indicted on corruption-related charges in federal courts. They’ve been charged with bribery, smuggling, transporting drugs, selling agency equipment and other offenses.”
• Local public relations guru Rachel Laing quoted her young son via Twitter the other day as noting that “humans are jerks.” His evidence: Ancient Romans liked to watch deadly gladiator matches, while today “football is basically the same thing.”
That’s not the only thing we have in common with the Romans. Archaeologists have revealed that chariots bore this familiar-sounding bumper sticker: “Colosseum? Thanks, Got One. A Library of Alexandria I Could Use.”
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.