For a long while after prosecutors accused a Mexican businessman, José Susumo Azano Matsura of making illegal campaign donations to San Diego politicians, there was an obvious question hanging over the case: What was he hoping to get from them?
Prosecutors say he wanted to develop the San Diego waterfront. But they didn’t offer much to back up that claim.
In the final story in our series on Azano and his long feud with San Diego-based Sempra Energy, Liam Dillon makes a different case: Azano wanted help taking Sempra down.
At some point in 2011, the tables turned in the fight. The feds had been probing Sempra’s dealings in Mexico, but no charges ever came. Sempra had been urging investigators to turn their attention to Azano. Eventually, they did.
Azano was feeling the pressure – he said federal officials were harassing his staff for dirt on him, and giving him lengthy searches at the border. Azano needed some allies. He turned to San Diego politicians.
• Dillon appeared on KPBS Wednesday to give a rundown on the Azano-Sempra feud.
Permit to Airbnb? Get Ready to Wait
As we told you earlier this week, the city is cracking down on residents who put rooms in their homes up for rent via Airbnb. They have to get a permit or else.
But getting that permit, we’ve discovered, isn’t necessarily easy. Our check of city data shows that an average of 540 days to get a conditional use permit, which is required in some neighborhoods. Another kind of permit takes an average of 379 days, although it might take no time at all.
• So who really cares if you rent a room out for a night or two? Clairemont resident Scott Gruby does. As he writes in a VOSD commentary: “These mini-hotels in residential neighborhoods go against the intent of residential zones and need to be eliminated. They are being operated as businesses, and should be treated as such.”
Sports Anchor Was Shot 10 Times
Channel 8 sports anchor Kyle Kraska was in critical but stable condition yesterday after being shot at his home, allegedly by a painter who was later arrested and charged with attempted murder. The station says he was shot 10 times.
A conflict between the two men apparently developed after the man painted Kraska’s home but was fired before finishing. (News 8)
Ex-Trustee to District: Apologize or Else!
Former San Diego school board member Scott Barnett, best known for his in-your-face outspoken attitude, is afraid he’s developed another reputation: as a guy you don’t want to work with. He blames the district, and he wants to reverse his reputation: “to do that, he is demanding an apology from the district and threatening to sue if he doesn’t get one,” VOSD’s Mario Koran reports.
It all has to do with a deal that Barnett tried to make between the district and a charter school over a piece of property. An attorney for the district told the school that Barnett’s former role as a school board member was big trouble; the school decided not to work with him anymore. Barnett says her words and VOSD coverage “caused other potential clients to raise concerns about retaining me.”
Council Is Teed Off
City-run golf courses are losing money, and Council members aren’t happy. (U-T)
• “A parcel of land on Olive Street in Bankers Hill will be made into a city park just as a local family intended it to be when they granted the parcel of land to the city of San Diego in 1909,” the Reader reports. The property ultimately became a doctor’s office parking lot. A big fuss developed and landed in court.
Prosecutors: Get Lost, ACLU
County prosecutors are continuing their bizarre effort to prosecute a local rapper for rapping. (They say he encouraged gang activity.) Now, a judge has agreed with the district attorney’s office and ruled that the ACLU can’t get involved in the case to argue that the rapper’s free-speech rights are being violated. (U-T)
• The ACLU is suing to figure out what Border Patrol agents are doing far from the border: They’ve “reportedly stopped farm workers and residents for questioning in Fallbrook, about 70 miles north of Mexico, and Laguna Beach, nearly 90 miles north.” (AP)
Meanwhile, the liberal website ThinkProgress drops by the town of Jacumba to explore immigrant life on the border and drop off water to help border-crossers avoid dying during their voyages.
Quick News Hits
• A holiday weekend is upon us, and “shipping companies said they will stop unloading ships at West Coast ports for four of the next five days [Thursday and Saturday-Monday] because they don’t want to pay overtime to workers they allege have deliberately slowed operations.”
• Civic San Diego, the agency in charge of building up San Diego’s poor neighborhoods, is under fire from community groups that want to force developers to agree to things like wages and local hiring.
• In North County, recovering homeless people with the Alpha Project have long sold newspapers on the street in the morning. But the city is cracking down, and the hawkers have been evicted temporarily and perhaps permanently because of concerns about safety and aggressive hawking. (U-T)
• The Welk Resorts, which run several resorts including the one devoted to the memory of Lawrence Welk in the Escondido area, has hired a “chief fun officer.” He’s already “begun injecting an unprecedented level of fun, laughter and camaraderie into the Welk Resorts guest experience.”
Sounds great. Smiles, everyone and unprecedented levels of fun, laughter and camaraderie!
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.