Todd Gloria called the city’s crumbling infrastructure “the biggest single barrier to achieving greatness” in his big speech last week.
Liam Dillon answers all of your burning questions about what the bond entails, and what hurdles are left to face, in a new readers guide.
Faulconer Fact Check Gets a Rethink
Mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer says he’s proud of helping save the city $1 billion in pension payments for retired municipal workers. His most high-profile supporter, former Mayor Jerry Sanders, has touted this number in a TV ad campaign.
Is the number right? “Mostly True,” we declared in a recent Fact Check. “But the financial projections have changed since then. Our take on Faulconer’s … statement has evolved, too,” Lisa Halverstadt explains in a new story. “We should have been harsher on Faulconer’s claim. Pension savings of $1 billion will come over decades and any contention that they can be put back into neighborhoods immediately, as Faulconer implied in November, is misleading.”
One key factor: The city’s pension bill won’t dip because of the reform until 2018. “He’s repeatedly implied lower pension bills are already helping the city’s budget,” we report. “Now lower bills aren’t coming for years.”
Behind Police Outreach Efforts
Following up on our report about the police department’s failure to keep track of whether it engages in racial profiling, we spent time with cops to talk about how they reach out in minority communities.
Key to the effort, the department says, is meeting people where they are — a walking team meets people as they go about their daily business, for example, instead of putting the onus on community members to come to police to engage.
Quick News Hits
• The VOSD radio show and expanded podcast features an interview with Nicole Capretz, director of environmental policy for interim mayor Todd Gloria. She’s working on the city’s Climate Action Plan, which “identifies measures to effectively meet greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 and 2035.”
• News about the closure of a local Albertson’s store normally wouldn’t draw our attention. But this one’s in a “food desert,” a term for neighborhoods (like City Heights) where it’s harder for locals to find healthier foods because supermarkets aren’t very willing to locate there. Our Albertson’s story was the most popular on our site last week. Check out the rest of the Top 10 list here.
• Rosy predictions about the giant centennial celebration at Balboa Park next year has always sounded overly optimistic.
Now, the effort seems to be in big trouble, according to a worrisome U-T report. Some of the officials working on the celebration are refusing to talk to the U-T, which says the city-funded group behind the project pushed back two key deadlines and has yet to announce any corporate sponsorships. [It] switched producers in November, has not applied for any event permits and is on its third executive in two-plus years.”
Following up on the U-T report, NBC San Diego takes a look at the issue and hears from a spokesman who casts blame on a certain former mayor who was “a de-stabilizing force.”
• The local chapter of the Sierra Club is a mess, the national organization says, and “over a several year period, key staff, volunteer leaders and activists have left the chapter amid factionalized strife and contention.” Now, the U-T reports, the chapter may be suspended and handed over to new leadership. The story doesn’t make it clear why the 12,000-member local chapter is so divided.
• The New York Times checks in on the project that will allow travelers to park at the border and walk a short bridge to the Tijuana airport. For passengers who make the trek currently, it’s “worth the trouble … because fares in Tijuana are substantially lower — up to 50 percent less to fly throughout Mexico — than at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field or other airports, like Los Angeles International.”
• Have you dumped your landline yet? It’s all the rage to go cell-only. But it might be a bad idea, the New York Times reports. For one thing, if you call 911, it can be hard for emergency services to pinpoint your exact location, especially if you’re in an “urban canyon” (surrounded by tall buildings) or inside a building.
The story doesn’t mention another issue: The possibility that you cell service will evaporate when the power goes out. That happened in September 2011 during San Diego’s region-wide power outage: AT&T’s cell phone system collapsed. (Keep in mind that you might still have trouble with a landline during a power outage.)
I’m keeping my landline, if only so I can carry out my designated role in any neighborhood disaster: Flee the scene and call for help. Then, and only then, panic profusely.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.