Lisa Ortiz’s daughter was shot to death by Sonjia Viruegas’s son. He was later killed by a prison guard.
These two women don’t despise each other. Instead, they’re united in grief and share a mission: preventing violence from taking more lives.
As we report in new story, they’re two of six women who’ve created a local advocacy group called Mothers With a Message. They talk to young people and use their experience of loss as a touchstone that reveals the cost of violence.
“When they talk to children, they always ask one question, often through tears: ‘Would you want your mother to go through what we’re going through?’ Often, the audiences stay silent. The mothers believe that deep inside, the children understand.”
The Cultural Gems We’ve Lost
The Ken Cinema last week became another line in a growing list of cultural institutions set to close its doors.
In the last year or so, we’ve lost the Opera (barring a last-minute savior), the Civic Innovation Lab (ditto), the San Diego Film Commission and Barrio Logan’s Voz Alta, writes Alex Zaragoza, our culture contributor.
Financial issues have dogged each group. There’s still hope for some — but the big picture for San Diego’s cultural scene is looking pretty grim.
Countywide Vote in 2016 for Chargers?
The Chargers appear to be pushing for a countywide vote in 2016 on a new football stadium, the U-T reports. The entire stadium project would cost $1 billion; the public may be asked to finance $400 million of the total.
City Hall Roundup: More Departing Cops
• The mayor’s proposed budget aims to boost pay for cops, but the head of the city’s police union still predicts that more than 130 sworn officers will leave the force this year, KPBS reports. That’s a bit more than last year.
The department has been suffering through quite a bit of brain drain. As KPBS tells us, “more than 1,200 officers have left the Police Department since fiscal 2006, and 900 more are eligible to retire in the next four years, according to the San Diego Police Officers Association. That’s out of 1,855 officers in the department now.”
The loss of veteran officers is just one of the challenges facing the police department. We held a forum about the department’s future earlier this month, and you can read a recap of the main takeaways here.
• The U-T examines salaries of city managers across the county. They’re the top municipal staffers in several local cities. (San Diego doesn’t have a city manager.)
Local city managers make an average of more than $200,000 a year, the U-T finds, but that’s hardly all. They often get a bunch of perks like cars, computers, cell phones and even housing. They can get weeks upon weeks of time off and extremely generous health benefits.
And, amazingly, “Vista City Manager Patrick Johnson got taxpayers to fund up to $2,500 he could use for legal advice for his contract negotiations with the city.”
In other words, the city is paying for him to get advice about how to get more money out of the city.
• The U-T takes a closer look at the long-shot effort to bring the 2024 Olympics here. Vincent Mudd, the head of a committee pushing the bid, says he hopes the public will agree “that is it acceptable to at least explore this concept, and that it is acceptable that San Diego is already an amazing place and there are plans to make it even more amazing.”
Meet the New Guy
The VOSD Radio Show & Expanded Podcast features a newcomer to Voice of San Diego: investigative reporter Ari Bloomekatz. He comes here from the Los Angeles Times.
Bloomekatz tells our show hosts that he looks forward to covering a wide variety of issues involving justice (and the lack thereof).
He’ll be covering county politics and plans to focus on County Supervisor Bill Horn’s bid to keep his seat.
Quick News Hits
• Our weekly Top 10 List of our most popular stories of the week is topped by a commentary by VOSD contributor Beau Lynott, who’s friends with the family that needed to be rescued from the Pacific Ocean when a baby became ill.
Lynott defended Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, setting off a rancorous debate in the comments. Even not-so-forgiving relatives of the family chimed in to express their anger and disappointment over the choices made by the Kaufmans.
• A total of 13 people quit the board of the San Diego Opera last week, the New York Times reports.
• Sacramento may not have quite the political intrigue of “Game of Thrones,” and it definitely can’t compete with the show on the beheadings front. However, state legislators do know how to dish out revenge. They appear to have done just that, the U-T reports, by freezing out local GOP legislator Sen. Joel Anderson, who disrupted the clubby atmosphere of the state Senate by trying to expel a fellow senator who got convicted of eight felonies.
• City News Service has a list of five of the 63 ex-cons who were pardoned by Gov. Jerry Brown on Good Friday last week. All five were convicted of drug offenses in San Diego County.
• I’m heading out of town to manage a writers conference, so other VOSD journalists will be handling the Morning Report for the next week.
Please be nice to them, valued readers. But not too nice. Don’t want them getting too comfortable, if you know what I mean.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.