In the waking hours of June 4, 2012, Victor Ortega was being urged out of bed by his wife. Soon after rising, Ortega would be dead, shot twice by a police officer who claimed he feared for his life. In a special investigation for Voice of San Diego, Kelly Davis peers back at the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Ortega almost three years past, and compares them to contested claims made in a lawsuit against the officer, Jonathan McCarthy.
The judge in the case recently questioned whether “it would be possible for McCarthy to have done everything he said he did during his altercation with Ortega,” Davis reports. Ortega’s widow filed a lawsuit and that’s why we have unique access to documents and testimony that often is sealed.
The city’s lawyers sought to have the entire case dismissed early in the trial, but the judge refused. “Plaintiffs have submitted evidence that would give a reasonable jury pause,” the judge determined. McCarthy remains an SDPD officer and is on active duty.
New Quest: Solar Matters
Over the last few years, we’ve embarked on several reporting quests — efforts to focus on one topic or question sometimes over several months. Here’s a new one: What is the future of solar panels in San Diego and will investments in it pay off for residents, business and the environment? “San Diego’s in the midst of a solar revolution,” writes Lisa Halverstadt. It is raising a lot of questions.
For one, SDG&E, like other utilities, thinks solar power users should pay more for their connection to the grid they still need. And rebates that have helped make solar affordable are expiring soon. Finally, is it worth it to install a new system? Send Halverstadt your questions about solar in San Diego and she’ll report on what she finds: email@example.com.
• Meanwhile, SDG&E cut the Pala Band of Mission Indians a million dollar check for installing their energy-efficient equipment. (Times of San Diego)
Hugs and Water Conservation For All
With all the talk of water restrictions and the threat of so-called “water cops” on the prowl, a homeowner could get to feeling defensive about their own water use. One group of mid-city residents has decided an alternative is in order. Call it a support group, but for water users who want to conserve. “Aqua-Non,” perhaps?
“It’s called ‘Transition Streets,’” KPBS writes. They try to actively help one another instead of relying only on the drought-shaming epidemic that is gripping the city.
• A real shame, though, is the devastation the drought has caused on forests in California, with 12 million trees perishing due to drought. (KPBS)
Filming Police Encounters
Everyone in the country is talking about police body cameras, and how videos taken of police actions during their confrontations with the public can usher in a new era of trust and accountability. That’s assuming, of course, the officer wearing the camera bothers to press the “record” button prior to an incident. But a recent officer-involved shooting in the Midway District highlighted how that won’t always be the case. SDPD announced Monday it will “thoroughly” investigate the shooting, NBC 7 reported.
• If police won’t hit their camera’s record button, onlookers increasingly seem willing to record their own videos. KPBS reports on a new mobile app developed by the ACLU which makes it easy for smartphone users to upload a video and submit a report.
Chargers Moving To Landfill?
The mayor of Carson, CA is speaking publicly about that city’s intention to build a stadium, including the contaminated land they want to build it on and the significant expense they are accepting to make it all nice and clean for their NFL suitors.
One tidbit from his statement confirms what many assumed about how long the Chargers have been working with Carson on a deal. “The NFL, the Chargers and Raiders came to us at the end of last year expressing interest in this land,” Mayor Robles said. So much for the Chargers’ claim from January, which said rumors that the Chargers were seeking a stadium deal in LA were untrue.
But, hey, Chargers season ticket sales are up, so maybe it’s working. (U-T)
Workers Priced Out of Homes
The housing website Zillow published details of a study Monday that highlights the troubling trend of housing inequality in California. The study notes how workers in the bottom third of the pay scale in San Diego would have to spend 70 percent of their earnings just to buy the least expensive home, Times of San Diego reports. As more workers are priced out of the housing market, they will find more competition in the rental market as well, pushing prices up there as well.
Yet the New York Times finds that San Diego is somehow in the list of cities that have the best hope of upward mobility for its poorer citizens, which is the ability of people to earn themselves into a middle-class lifestyle.
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• Barbara Bry, a local entrepreneur (and the original editor of VOSD) has announced she will run for the City Council seat being left by Sherri Lightner when her term ends. (Times of San Diego)
• In his new budget, Mayor Faulconer is proposing an additional “fast response” fire crew be created to help bring down emergency response times in remote areas, U-T San Diego reports. We recently spent some time looking into the idea of special fire crews and their benefits.
• The Mayor was otherwise busy showing off some street repairs in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and promising to spread street funds more equitably around the city. (KPBS)
• Let’s legalize internet poker. (NBC 7)
• Let’s go surfing in crazy high waves. (Elkhardt Truth)
And finally, fellas, let’s get the poo out of our beards. (10 News)