The president of the San Diego firefighters union appeared in our pages yesterday with a commentary bashing the idea of two-person emergency response crews. The city’s been experimenting with one in the Encanto neighborhood, which has been plagued by long response times to 911 calls.
“The city is paying half-price for quarter-service,” wrote Alan Arrollado, the union chief. San Diego Fact Check examined his claim and finds that it’s “misleading.” Arrollado fails to note the price of a new fire station to house a crew larger than two firefighters: “For Arrollado to leave out the steep cost to build a station makes his argument misleading.”
For his part, Arrollado says the city doesn’t need to build fire stations to operate four-person crews.
Commentary: City’s Addicted to Cracks
North Park resident Tim Dierks likes to run, even when no one’s chasing him. But he has the misfortune of living in the urban core of San Diego, where the sidewalks are old, decrepit and dangerous. Just a few weeks ago, as he writes in a new VOSD commentary, he tripped over a broken sidewalk while out for a run and bloodied his face.
It’s “appalling that the city is taking so long to address the issue,” he writes, taking note of how VOSD’s coverage played an important role in getting the city to at least figure out how big the problem is.
Good News Roundup: Getting Better All the Time
• You can just stop it with the fat-lady jokes already. An audit shows the San Diego Opera is in “solid financial condition,” the U-T reports, after being resurrected following its shocking demise.
• Open government alert! The city has opened up a database of tens of thousands of permits and code enforcement complaints to the public. The data was made public in part because of VOSD investigative work now under way. (U-T)
• The Scientist magazine is out with its list of the Top 10 innovations of the year — tough luck, any innovations that appear this month — and some are from San Diego companies, including Illumina.
No Water Cops Yet
The city approved new water rules back in October, and one department expected to hire seven new employees to monitor things, including four to talk to residents. But no one’s been hired yet, and it may take a while for the city to get anywhere because there’s no money allocated to the task. Anyone who wastes water might get a letter telling them to knock it off, but the city, for now, won’t be able to follow up unless a resident gets in touch. (KPBS)
Gloria Might Lose Top Council Spot
Council President Todd Gloria must leave the Council in 2016 due to term limits, and it’s not clear if he’ll run for mayor, Congress or the state Legislature. The media’s paid close attention to him during (and since) the Filner imbroglio, and lately he and and Mayor Kevin Faulconer have tried to create a sense of political unity by appearing at political events together.
But now NBC 7’s Wendy Fry writes that “there is definitely a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Councilwoman Sherri Lightner take over the presiding position on the council,” citing unnamed sources close to Council members.
Such a move would take Gloria out of the spotlight as he tries to figure out what to do with his closely watched political career. The news, by the way, came on Lightner’s birthday.
Rap and Go Directly to Jail
A former writer for CityBeat is out with a jailhouse interview for Vice’s Noisey website with the local rap singer who’s bizarrely facing criminal charges over his music. Yes, his music: Prosecutors say he’s promoted criminal gang activity through rap, a rap mixtape specifically.
One source tells Vice conspiracy laws like the one being used here are ripe for abuse: “Really, with those laws, any of us could pretty much be linked to anything else. That’s what’s really dangerous about them. With conspiracy charges, you don’t have to know anything about who else is involved. You don’t have to know the extent of what crimes are being committed. You don’t really have to know the extent of the conspiracy.”
Quick News Hits: Atkins on Top
• Local Assemblywoman Toni Atkins has been re-elected as speaker of the state Assembly. For background, check our coverage of how she’s not quite in as great of political shape as she might like. Meanwhile, she’s taking a firm stand against tuition increases in the UC system: “No Californian should be priced out of a UC education because they come from a middle-class family.” (L.A. Times)
• The L.A. Times takes a deep look at the problem of hit-and-run crashes involving cyclists in the Los Angeles area. We’ve been investigating hit-and-run crashes in San Diego, with a focus on pedestrians and the personal stories of those left behind.
• The Twitter account known as @sandiegoscanner live-tweeted a conversation on the police scanner last night. It went like this:
Officer: “Can you confirm? She’s wearing the Cookie Monster outfit or the 1 year old is?” Dispatch: “No. She is.”
No word on the name of the street where this happened, but I have a pretty good guess …
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.