The city is reviewing its charter, a kind of municipal constitution, and the often-arcane process is going to hit a hot topic today: Policing the police.
Critics want to give more power to a volunteer board that reviews high-level internal investigations, including certain complaints by the public, police shootings and deaths during arrests.
The board is hampered by limitations: It can’t make the Police Department take any action, it can’t get access to certain information about officers and it must follow a mandatory timeline or lose its right to do anything at all. As VOSD contributor Kelly Davis reports, “with a few exceptions, state law says any investigation into police misconduct must be completed within a year; if it’s not, the complaint’s dismissed.”
There’s also the matter of priorities and the fact that the board hasn’t been one. It lost its full-time director in 2009 (it was only restored this year), It last filed an annual report that same year, and “its public outreach efforts have been almost nonexistent.”
• In a VOSD commentary, North County legislator Rocky Chavez, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, calls on the public to leave the police alone and stop blaming them for things: “Police officers are not the problem in society; they are part of the solution. Individuals and communities need to refrain from blaming this essential group of personnel for some of the shortfalls in various elements of public safety of our society.”
• The FBI is investigating the case of a local man who died in a confrontation with border agents last year. There’s a dispute about whether agents used too much force when they tried to subdue him with a Taser. (AP)
Opinion: Hey, Don’t Blame Me!
In a VOSD commentary, powerful local attorney Cory Briggs — who specializes in bringing government agencies to their knees — says he doesn’t deserve the blame for stopping business-friendly projects in the city, particularly the Convention Center expansion. “The reason there is litigation on waterfront projects is because the law is not being followed,” he writes. “Maybe it’s bad legal advice, or maybe it’s something else. For reasons I’ll never understand, the city insists on ignoring the well-lit path in favor of exotic and novel legal approaches.”
Briggs suggests there is a culprit who city leaders aren’t acknowledging: hotel owners.
‘Staggering’ Suicide Rate for Women Vets
“New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women,” the L.A. Times reports, a rate so high “that it approaches that of male veterans, a finding that surprised researchers because men generally are far more likely than women to commit suicide.”
The story focuses on a local veteran who killed herself in 2010 after suffering from PTSD and a Navy sailor who reported being raped and was treated here.
Stadium Drama: The End Is Near?
U-T columnist Kevin Acee predicts that we’ll know by late summer whether the Chargers will apply to skip town. Huh. It seems obvious that they will. But Acee says there’s still hope for a new stadium to make them happy, even though he’s hearing that the Chargers think the current plan, even if approved by voters, will get tied up in court. Acee wants the city to play for more time.
Meanwhile, the U-T also explores the various factors that could prevent a stadium plan from moving forward even if voters support it this year in a December special election.
Legislation Aims to Simplify Voting
Democratic state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would automatically turn every registered voter in the state into a mail voter. If we don’t want to vote by mail, we can drop off our ballots at special voting centers. And we could submit our ballots at any voting center (or even 24-hour drop-off boxes) in the county.
Another bill, which just passed the state Assembly and is sponsored by local Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, would “automatically register people to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles and mail a ballot to every voter.” (SF Chronicle)
Alpine Wins One for High School Vision
“A Superior Court judge has again ruled that the Grossmont Union High School District must set aside $42 million in bond money for a long-sought Alpine high school,” Times of San Diego reports. The Grossmont district runs high schools in East County, including the town of Alpine.
We covered this long dispute in a story last month.
Quick News Hits: Get Charter Fever!
• Mark Leslie is out as CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. He’s going to “resume retirement plans he put on hold” to run the organization for just less than a year, according to a press release.
• Didn’t see this coming in a place I like to describe as “Des Moines by the Sea”: We’re one of the 20th most well-read cities in the country, Amazon says, ranking at 13th. Take that, Houston (14th)! As for Des Moines, it’s too small to make the list, which is limited to cities over 500,000 people.
• Two words: “Charter karaoke.” Hmm. That’s the kind of thing that makes me think: “If that’s in the news today, I’m going back to bed.”
Well, it is. As you learned above, the city is launching a review of its municipal constitution, and it’s seeking opinions tonight at a meeting described, KPBS reports, as “charter karaoke” and — heaven help us — “Open Mic Night.”
I shall recite my ideas about zoning variance reform in iambic pentameter.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.