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Every once in a while, someone in public life lets the truth slip out. Case in point: Bill Harris, a spokesman for the city of San Diego.
In an interview with VOSD reporter Liam Dillon, he was trying to explain why the city is dragging its feet in so many areas when it comes to getting a handle on fixing its infrastructure — streets, roads and so on.
Harris said there are reasons for the delays, like the need for engineers to get a handle on what’s actually wrong with buildings and parks. “It’s taking too long,” Harris said. “It always takes too long. It will always take too long.”
Indeed. But part of the problem now, as Dillon explains, is that the city won’t act until it figures out what needs fixing, and that just delays things even further. A couple elections are coming up in 2016 when the city could ask voters to raise their taxes to repair things, but city officials might blow the realistic deadline for getting a ballot measure moving.
By the way, “60 Minutes” just examined the nationwide infrastructure crisis with an emphasis on bridges that are falling apart and putting people and commerce in jeopardy. One message from the story: Don’t expect Congress to get anything done because of, well, you know… Congress.
Another Night of Unrest
Protesters upset by the decision not to prosecute police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, have been busy blocking freeways and otherwise letting their voices be heard here in San Diego. It was the second night of protests in San Diego.
One group decided to make a point about Ferguson by covering the sign for the memorial park dedicated to slain SDPD officer Jeremy Henwood, a man known for his respect for the community he served; he was shown on camera buying food for a young neighborhood boy just before he was killed. Predictably, police representatives and others were upset. (U-T)
The man who covered the sign explained why to NBC 7.
10News caught an encounter between angry drivers and protesters who shut down Interstate 5 on tape.
Another Juvenile Justice Failure
The county’s troubled juvenile justice program is facing another potential scandal. As CityBeat reveals, a 16-year-old girl committed suicide at juvenile hall last year, a tragedy that once again calls the juvenile system’s protections for young people into question.
“To accept the official version of events, you must believe that Rosemary orchestrated and executed a complex suicide plan, timed perfectly between 15-minute safety checks,” CityBeat reports. “To exculpate county staff, you must also believe they had no reason to place Rosemary on suicide watch, requiring even more frequent checks and the removal from her cell of anything she might use to harm herself.”
Civil rights groups have called for the federal government to investigate the county juvenile system after reports of multiple cases of abuse, including hundreds of uses of pepper spray on young people.
Frats Frozen at SDSU
San Diego State University’s Greek system is putting all social activities on hold until January at least after protesters say they were harassed by frat members while marching against sexual assault. “Jordan Busse, Take Back the Night co-organizer and American Indians studies senior, said Sigma Phi Epsilon members yelled obscenities at the demonstrators,” the Daily Aztec reports. “Delta Sigma Phi members later waved dildos from their fraternity house balcony, she said.”
Sexual assault training is planned and all Greek system members will have to take part.
The story made the L.A. Times.
Dem Leader Busby Gets a Rival?
Francine Busby, the perennial failed congressional candidate and head of the county Democratic party, may be facing a rival for her post. There’s still a lot of bitterness over a Latina Democrat’s unsuccessful race for Escondido mayor; an influential local union declared war on her after she voted to support a 99-cent discount store.
“Your decision to spend hundreds of dollars in mailers attacking Olga Diaz who was running for mayor of Escondido was much more than just an ill-advised attack on a fellow Democrat and union supporter,” an angry critic wrote the leader of the union. “It was also a crushing blow to a city and a region riven by racial tension. Diaz was the first Latina mayoral candidate in Escondido in over 150 years.”
• Also in local politics, there might not be a tie in that Chula Vista City Council race after all. Local school board member John McCann is leading former Mayor Steve Padilla by two votes. Padilla wants a recount. (KPBS)
Quick News Hits: SoNo Uh-Oh
• The city’s safe needles program is 12 years old, and it’s led to the disposal of more than 2.5 million dirty needles over that time. Many of the needles were used by drug addicts, but the program also helps dispose of needles of a variety of types. (LGBT Weekly)
• “A 2012 California voter initiative requiring registered sex offenders to disclose all their e-mail addresses, screen names, social networking user names and other online activities to local law enforcement likely violates the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled,” reports Bloomberg BNA.
• A pod of killer whales is working its way up the coast after appearing near Oceanside and San Diego. (Breitbart)
• No, hordes of potentially Arab terrorists aren’t illegally crossing the border, as least as far as the Border Patrol can tell. (LA Times)
• An Associated Press story that referred to North Park and South Park as “SoNo” — gah! — is still making waves after a mention in the Morning Report yesterday. One reader had another bone to pick, however: He’s from Brooklyn, and says the proper term for dismissing something like “SoNo” is not “Getouddahere,” as I’d assumed. What wuz I thinking?
“On the mean streets of The County of Kings,” he says, “we’d shout ‘Fuhgeddaboudit!’”
Happy Thanksgiving. This will be the only Morning Report for the holiday weekend. See you Monday.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.