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In Part I of our investigation into José Susumo Azano Matsura and his long-running feud with Sempra Energy, we described a raid by Mexican police on a Sempra plant in Baja California.
The raid was intense, but the plant was generating controversy – and accusations of wrongdoing by Sempra – before it was even built.
“The FBI has investigated Sempra’s activities in Mexico,” Liam Dillon writes in Part II. “But despite finding ample evidence Sempra executives might have broken the law, federal authorities didn’t charge the company at the end of their probe.”
Sempra officials strongly deny corruption claims related to their dealings with Mexican politicians. But, writes Dillon, “Too many questions about the company’s actions in Mexico remain unanswered for the accusations to go away.”
In this story and a companion piece, Dillon spells out some of the most explosive allegations against Sempra in Mexico, including its relationship with a politician who condemned the land of one of Sempra’s rivals, giving Sempra a major leg up in building its plant.
Athletic Official Has Troublesome Past
We’ve discovered that the man who oversees competitive athletics for the San Diego school district played a crucial and questionable role in a devastating concussion case more than two decades ago.
In 1992, Bruce Ward was head coach at Escondido High School in North County when he sent a young man into place to return punts and kickoffs. The man, now 40, “remembers catching a punt and heading up field — and then, the impact. He was hit by a wall of defenders. That’s when the lights went out.”
In addition to a brain bleed from the hit, doctors found pre-existing damage in his brain, likely from a concussion he suffered playing the week before. Ward knew about the injury but allegedly didn’t tell the player’s parents and then allowed him to play a week later.
Ward is now the San Diego district’s director of physical education, health and interscholastic athletics; he oversees district protocols regarding safety. The player, Vu Dang, has suffered the consequences of his injuries for more than half his lifetime.
• Men and boys get almost all the attention when it comes to concussions in athletics, but a Washington Post contributor writes that “in many of the most popular sports, boys aren’t the ones most likely to be afflicted by concussions. Girls are.”
Where Airbnb Thrives in San Diego
Lisa Halverstadt has mapped out the areas of the city where the most San Diegans are offering homes or rooms for rent on Airbnb.
“Two factors bind each of the city’s Airbnb hotspots,” Halverstadt writes. “They’re known for high hotel occupancies or relatively few hotels, or both.”
There are more than 3,000 rentals listed in San Diego on the site, “and nearly half of them are in six San Diego neighborhoods: Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla, North Park, East Village or Ocean Beach.”
GOP Turns on Supervisor Jacobs
In a stunning turnabout, the local Republican Party wants longtime County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, also a Republican, out.
The U-T has the details about the party’s endorsement of state Sen. Joel Anderson for the county supervisor job. The endorsement seems to be retribution for Jacobs’ support of limits on campaign contributions. As the U-T notes, it’s not clear what, if anything, Anderson would do differently than Jacobs.
Notorious Cop Loses Appeal
An appeals court has reinstated two convictions against former San Diego cop Anthony Arevalos, who sexually assaulted several women on the job. “Arevalos will now serve his full 8-year, 8-month sentence unless the state supreme court takes the case and rules in his favor,” NBC 7 reports. For background, check our extensive coverage of the “Teflon” cop.
Motoring Toward Better Stadium Deal?
The blog Deadspin checks in on Detroit and says it may have found a way to avoid “the publicly financed stadium scam.” The possible solution: Require developers to sign a “community benefits agreement” that “covers everything from local hiring requirements and environmental concerns to redevelopment of public space and infrastructure.” Business leaders and the GOP aren’t happy.
Culture Report: Waterfront Washouts?
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report highlights my retrospective of the most outlandish projects proposed for the waterfront (sky-high shipwreck, anyone?) plus details about Ray at Night (no, not your brother-in-laws’s evening activities), a big new mural in Lemon Grove and the Jewish Film Festival.
The port district board, by the way, wants to continue exploring the idea of a waterfront Ferris wheel.
Quick News Hits
• CBS 8 sports director and anchor Kyle Kraska was shot at his Scripps Ranch home yesterday. Police are looking for a suspect, and Kraska was undergoing surgery.
• The U-T profiles our organization as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.
• Pediatricians are turning away child patients who aren’t vaccinated, reports the L.A. Times, which checks in with doctors in southern Orange County who are laying down the line in order to protect their other patients.
• A 4,000-acre solar-panel farm is now up and running near Joshua Tree. A few years ago, we debunked a bogus claim from former high-profile Rep. Bob Livingston, who declared that “for solar power to supply the city of San Diego, one would need to cover the Mojave Desert with solar panels.”
• The City Council finalized a deal to continue leasing a building next to City Hall that holds hundreds of city workers. (City News Service)
• It’s sweeps month, and local TV stations are focusing on high-profile investigations. NBC 7 finds that San Diego is home to an murky world of “unlicensed, untrained security officers and bouncers.”
Don’t Fool Around With Mother Nature
New reports worry about “geoengineering” — preventing global warming by tinkering with the atmosphere. “We definitely don’t think that we’re ready to say this is something worth doing,” said a UCSD chemist who helped write one of the reports.
San Diego’s own history offers a cautionary tale about hacking the skies above. Almost 100 years ago, a drought convinced local leaders to hire a rainmaker who seeded clouds and — some believed — caused massive deadly floods that devastated the county. Trains couldn’t get here for a month, telephones and telegraphs were cut off and the San Diego River in Mission Valley expanded to a mile wide.
The City Council never paid the $10,000 it owed to the rainmaker, who was bitter about it for decades. Pro-tip: Listen and learn, scientists! Don’t tell the sky what to do.
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.