The big question around the campaign finance scandal in which a Mexican businessman is alleged to have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into local politics has always been a simple one: Why? Political donations from foreigners are illegal in the United States. Why, if he did it, did he want to take the risk?
As reporters across the city keep trying to piece together the answer, we added a new revelation to the mix.
“San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis met with Jose Susumo Azano Matsura during the same time prosecutors allege Azano was illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Dumanis’ failed 2012 mayoral campaign,” Liam Dillon reports. A former police detective who’s been charged was also at the meeting.
The sheriff hasn’t previously been linked to the investigation revolving around Azano. (A spokeswoman says the sheriff didn’t get any campaign money from him.) Azano says he’s not guilty.
Dumanis has said that she only recalls meeting Azano once at another meeting at his Coronado estate. Her spokesman would only say that “nothing of substance” was discussed at the meeting with the sheriff.
Battle over Mt. Soledad Drags On and On
And on it goes. We won’t soon get to an end to the never-ending legal dispute over the legality of the cross on the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to get involved with the fight over its fate, leaving a federal appeals court to making a ruling. (NBC 7)
There’s been some hope that the Supreme Court would allow the case to leapfrog the appeal court. But that won’t happen. The appeal court will get to decide whether the cross has to go, as a federal judge has ruled. The fight over the cross has lasted for at least 22 years.
Little Lemon Grove Could Be a Big Model
Think about Lemon Grove for a minute. Sure, I’ll hold. Back already? Yeah, one of the county’s smallest cities doesn’t have much of a public profile in these parts. Never mind its motto (“Best Climate on Earth”), a lemon monument said to be the largest in the world, and its unlikely place in civil rights history.
In a VOSD commentary, Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom says the little burg’s embrace of public transit can serve as a model for the whole region, where getting around by trolley, rail or bus can be aggravating to say the least.
Among other things, the city’s transit center includes restrooms (which often aren’t found at stations), public art, a convenience store with healthy food and shelter from the rain and sun. As your valiant Morning Report scribe discovered on a soggy day a few months ago, even the busy Old Town transit center in San Diego is missing a few of these amenities.
What We’ve Learned in County’s Second City
It may be the second-biggest city in the county and one of the top 100 in the country, but the political scene in Chula Vista largely escapes the radar of the local media. We’ve been trying to give residents a voice through a News Literacy program.
Now, we can report on what we’ve discovered.
One major finding: The city’s Castle Park neighborhood, which we focused on, might qualify as a “news desert” since residents often don’t have access to computers. In fact, most of the people we worked with don’t even have an email address.
Our workshops are teaching residents how to find news and talk about their concerns and get access to computers.
Quick News Hits: Border Patrol’s Conundrum
• How dry we are: The year up to yesterday was the 13th driest on record in San Diego. Fun fact: The wind near Cuyamaca reached a record of 101 mph when we had that freak Santa Ana in May. (KPBS)
• The Associated Press digs into records and finds that “many agents wind up stationed in places where crossing activity is slowest because the Border Patrol struggles to keep up with constantly shifting migration patterns.”
• State gas taxes are going down but not by much. (KPBS)
• The Washington Post asks congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, the former councilman, to answer five questions about what politicians can learn from the late baseball star Tony Gwynn. “Don’t let the haters get you down,” he says.
But the story makes the same questionable claim that keeps coming up in national coverage of DeMaio’s campaign: That he came close to winning the mayoral race in 2012.
• In yesterday’s Morning Report, I linked to a U-T story about a debate over the future of development in Ocean Beach. At issue: whether to allow more flexibility regarding things like larger homes.
I interpreted this to mean that the community is debating whether to increase density — means fitting more people and more homes into neighborhoods. Clairemont just had one of those fights, and residents went bananas. While some environmentalist types love the idea of more density, critics fear their communities will get Manhattan-ized (and without the benefit of good bagels).
A couple readers say I got the Ocean Beach debate all wrong. The dispute, a reader says, is actually over allowing bigger homes or bigger stores but not jamming more people and more homes overall into OB.
His explanation was really clear and helpful. If you ask nicely, maybe he’ll come to your house and help you understand the World Cup tournament system. I’ve got dibs on getting him to explain my cell phone bill.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and 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.