Now here’s a position you might not expect: The board of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a business-friendly group that has the ears of politicians of many stripes, voted to recommend changing or axing the People’s Ordinance, the law that mandates the city pick up trash from single-family homes.
Now, the city collects trash from single-family homes but not from apartment or condo buildings or private streets and gated communities. Those multi-family units contract with private companies to have their trash hauled away.
This, as you may imagine, is a mighty weird way of doing things for a major city in the 21st century. As we’ve explained, the roots lie in the early years of the 20th century and a kerfuffle involving San Diego’s longtime bugaboo: corruption.
The Taxpayers Association thinks the city is subsidizing trash pickup. It won’t surprise anyone if it pushes to get the city out of the trash business entirely. But there’s a hitch, as VOSD’s Scott Lewis explains: For anything to change, San Diego’s famously fee-averse voters have to weigh in.
The Blurry Lines Separating the Mayor and One San Diego
When the mayor decided to name his neighborhood-boosting nonprofit One San Diego, the name might’ve sounded familiar to some. “‘One San Diego’ is the brand Faulconer has been pushing since he was elected in February 2014,” Liam Dillon writes. “The phrase appears in his official biography. His staff has included the phrase in 57 different official press releases over the past year.”
The similarities don’t end there. The lines separating the nonprofit from the mayor’s efforts to boost his office and future ambitions are pretty blurry. Technically, he has no involvement. But the group is staffed with his close allies, and his wife is called its “honorary chair” — though she, too, has no official role.
And then there’s the people and companies donating to the effort. “None of the companies’ donations – not the amount nor when they were given – has been made public, and it’s unlikely they ever will be,” Dillon writes.
Here’s a Switch: An Anti-Petition Drive
The weekly VOSD Podcast features a grand master of signature-gathering and the owner of one of the most epic names around: Arenza Thigpen Jr. “We’re the league of champions in direct democracy,” says Thigpen, founder and CEO of the International League of Signature Gatherers. “There’s an inner circle of the Michael Jordan(s) of signature-gatherers. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I am one of them.”
• As you may have noticed, we have a new branch of government in San Diego: the petition-drive industrial complex. Again and again, well-funded groups are using the referendum process to reject City Council decisions. Right now, there’s an effort to get voters to kill the Council’s approval of the One Paseo project in Carmel Valley.
Over the weekend, evidence of a counter-effort appeared in my mailbox: It’s a flier from the One Paseo people urging voters to “Decline to sign the Once Paseo petition.” The flier even includes a tear-away, self-stamped section that you can send to the city clerk’s office asking to be withdrawn from the referendum petition if you’ve already signed it.
Gang Membership Is Still Not a Crime
Last week, a judge snuffed the high-profile bid by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to send two men to jail because of their alleged connections to a gang. But the DA keeps flogging the same storyline: These are hardcore gang members and bad men. Dumanis contends, as VOSD’s Sara Libby translates, that “journalists covering the case are a bunch of gullible dummies who believe them to be innocent and misunderstood.”
Not so, Libby writes. “This, folks, is a master class in willfully missing the point.” (A personal note: I would totally take that class.) The two men could very well be hard-core gang members, but “gang membership in and of itself isn’t a crime.”
“The DA’s job … involves more than merely identifying who’s a bad person. A judge helpfully reminded her of that fact last week.”
• Readers are still flocking to our original story exposing the prosecution of a man who, among other things, stood accused of posting in support of the gang on Facebook. The story topped our list of the 10 most popular VOSD stories last week.
S.D.: Not So Unequal, Income-Wise
San Diego ranks 32nd in a Wall Street Journal listing of the top 50 metro areas by “income equality” — defined here as the gap between the bottom 20 percent and the top 5 percent. The top 5 percent makes quite a lot in terms of average income — $236,000, compared to $132,000 in Tucson — but the lowest 20 percent does better than many other cities too. For them, the average salary income is $27,000, compared to $15,000 in Tucson.
• Another new list ranks the top 50 metro areas by their LGBT populations. San Diego doesn’t score too high: We’re well behind the leaders (San Francisco, Portland, Austin, New Orleans) and we even lag Indianapolis and Louisville.
Quick News Hits: Charming Uglies
• “A deluge of online threats at schools this year has panicked parents, teachers and kids while burdening law enforcement agencies,” the U-T reports. “No matter the method — via anonymous Skype calls, irate phone calls or social media posts on apps like Burnbook — officials have to take the threats seriously; a reality they say disrupts education and policing.”
• You may have heard about the murder trial of the Carlsbad woman who killed her teacher husband in 2012. Here’s the twist: “an older woman who already has children, a former housewife who killed her husband under suspicious circumstances and was free on $2 million bail, somehow persuaded a doctor to help her get pregnant shortly before her high-profile murder trial.” U-T columnist Logan Jenkins calls this “disgusting.” Another twist: Since the pregnancy came via in-vitro fertilization, the father could be the man she killed.
• The San Diego Zoo is raising a pair of newborn Dalmatian pelicans, a rare kind of pelican that’s endangered. They’re ugly and charming, the Washington Post says, based on video from the zoo. The Post has even named one of them “Chad.”
And oh yeah, they’re kept warm and get fed five times a day. Huh. Hey zoo, guess who else is ugly and charming?
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.