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San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said only days ago that he wanted to lead the department through the latest widening scandal about officer misconduct.
But he abruptly announced Tuesday that he would stay in the job only until March 3 — the day Kevin Faulconer takes over as mayor. Liam Dillon has the story with context on crime rates, scandals and challenges Lansdowne handled in his decade at the helm.
From the interim mayor to the mayor-elect, from the district attorney to the police union president, the chief’s supporters praised him to the hilt. Even one of the lawyers representing accusers of his officers vouched for the chief’s integrity. We have a round-up of reactions to the news here, along with reminders about the various scandals that have marked his past couple years in office. (The latest: a police detective stands accused of a DUI offense.)
Lansdowne would not speak with most reporters but did talk to the LA Times. Faulconer and Lansdowne met and spoke at length recently but Faulconer did not ask for the resignation, he said. He also, though, did not give a full-throated statement of commitment to the chief when given the opportunity.
More on the Police Chief’s Departure
• Anthony Arevalos, the officer who was convicted of numerous sexual misconduct offenses against women he pulled over, saw two of those convictions vacated. (NBC) He’ll now be re-sentenced potentially much more leniently. The police department failed to hand over to prosecutors and defense notes a victim took about her encounter with Arevalos. The judge thought that Arevalos’ trial might have come out differently had that information come out.
It was a very bad day for the police department and its chief.
• In a VOSD commentary on an external investigation of the police department, we hear from Samuel Walker, professor emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the author of ‘The New World of Police Accountability.”
Walker supports a court-appointed independent monitor and says the department “can’t afford to go halfway in reform efforts. It’s already lost the trust of the community. An outside monitor is necessary to set the department on a true course toward accountability.”
• KPBS racial profiling investigation that we wrote about: “Unfortunately, he’s paying the price for scandals that occurred during his tenure, and I don’t know that he’s entirely responsible for them.”
Iredale said he does not think a new police chief will “have any magical effect on dealing with problems that may be deeply entrenched in the culture of the institution.”
Huge Win for County Water Agency
The San Diego County Water Authority got a big boost Tuesday when a judge tentatively ruled in its favor in a major lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District, or MWD. San Diego is a member of MWD and we purchase a good chunk of our water from the Los Angeles-based agency. The lawsuit argued, in effect, that MWD has been overcharging us by applying costs to our rates that were not related to delivering water.
The ruling, which came after a five-day trial in San Francisco, is not final. And MWD officials told the LA Times that it’s just one step in a long process.
Rob Davis’ five big takeaways from the war between the two agencies still serves as good background if you’re interested.
Big Day for Pot, Bad Day for Open Government Idea
• The City Council passed new rules that will allow 30 medical marijuana shops in the city, but only 4 per council district. (NBC 7 San Diego)
• The City Council won’t ask voters to approve a ballot measure promising reform in the way the city does its business openly, the U-T reports. Instead, the City Council will tackle the issue itself.
Meet the Watchdog with Plenty of Bark
San Diego school board member Scott Barnett is sticking out. “At times sees himself as the only one in touch with reality, especially when it comes to finances,” writes VOSD reporter Mario Koran in a new story about Barnett’s often-solo quests.
Here’s an excerpt that reveals Barnett’s positioning and his legendary way with words: “His signature rallying cry has been to rethink the district’s approach to land sales, which he’s likened to selling grandma’s jewelry to pay rent, burning furniture to heat the house and ‘taking (a) prized milk cow and slaughtering it for beef.”
Catch Up on SeaWorld Debate
As we launch into a journalistic quest to understand the local effect of animal mistreatment allegations against SeaWorld, we’ve compiled a Reader’s Guide to the ongoing controversy. You’ll find links to multiple stories about topics ranging from the human deaths caused by a single killer whale to SeaWorld’s responses, a jump in revenue at the amusement park chain, and a pending court ruling.
Culture Report: Word Up!
The Morning Report has always had a sibling rivalry with its pesky younger sister, the Culture Report. (“Mom! The Culture Report is looking at me!”) Well, nowadays, things have gotten worse. The CR keeps attracting attention by using all sorts of terms that don’t usually appear in our pages.
Case in point: This week’s issue of the Culture Report, which aggregates news about the local arts and culture scene, includes references to a “visual and sonic mind-melter,” Napoleon Bonaparte, a “dark, twisted emo kid,” Ouija boards, and “Gruesome Playground Injuries.” (That latter is a play and not a chapter in my memoirs.)
Plus: “LeVar Burton-ian,” “juggalo” and “yuppified.”
Good heavens. How will I keep up with these vocabularian hiijinks? OK, here goes: This sentence marks the first appearance of the word “Glamazon” in VOSD’s pages. Who’s a Glamazon? Why, this gender-bending San Diego native who was profiled in the NY Times the other day, of course! Hallelu.
Quick News Hits
• The U-T looks at how San Diegans can cut back water use significantly. One thing to keep in mind: “More than half the water used in San Diego County goes to irrigate lawns and gardens, according to local water officials.”
• The City Council next week will decide whether to reverse course on the affordable housing fee hike or allow a referendum at the ballot box to go forward, the U-T reports.
• A koala briefly went on the lam yesterday at the San Diego Zoo, escaping his enclosure and hanging out in a tree until zookeepers recovered him. “It’s that time of year… This is all about hormones and testing limits,” a spokeswoman told the LA Times.
Here’s a tip, oh fuzzy one: Go on OKCupid or Match.com like the rest of us un-hitched folks. Try this: “Single koala seeks mate for moonlit walks along the west end of the enclosure. Warm blood = warm heart. No lemurs.”
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.