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The City Council decided to spend $2.1 million on consulting fees to launch a study of the environmental impacts of a new football stadium.
The Chargers say they don’t want it, but the Council’s goal is to go over their heads and woo the NFL. The mayor’s office says the money won’t come out of funds for any city services, but it’s also true the money could be used for any other city need.
• As VOSD’s Scott Lewis reports, the county rejected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s request to help with this bill, saying it would have to hold a public vote first. Lewis discussed in depth what was at stake with the Mighty 1090.
• Councilman Todd Gloria, one of the three Democratic votes against the plan, let out some frustration about the plan on Facebook. Chargers diehards attacked him on Twitter but attorney Cory Briggs — the man most likely to gunk up the works — replied with “it is worse: council just set the precedent for paying for all of it. Chargers are celebrating & laughing at us.”
More reactions: KUSI’s Michael Turko blasted the decision. The Republican blog, SD Rostra, scolded the Republicans on the City Council for daring to “lead the way in sinking money into a Chargers ship.” But Faulconer was resolute: “Regardless of what ultimately happens with the team, this environmental impact report is valuable to taxpayers. Whether a new stadium is built or Qualcomm Stadium is simply demolished, this environmental analysis can be used.”
The decision was framed as simple and dire: If the Council rejected it, the Chargers would be gone. Now the mayor will make his case to NFL owners that they should force their colleague, Chargers owner Dean Spanos, to come back to the table on the city’s terms.
We’ll see how that goes.
•The city’s big meeting with the NFL is Aug. 10. Might be good to use that time to brush up on our definitive FAQ on the stadium and issues about it. Even if you don’t care about football, you should probably care about taxes and city land use.
Airbnb Fate Still Up in Air
The city may face a lawsuit from angry residents if it doesn’t crack down enough on Airbnb-style rentals, VOSD’s Zoe Schaver reports. The city is still figuring out how to control them as it faces pressure from homeowners who want to use Airbnb to make extra money and critics who say ultra-short-timer residents are a nuisance.
PETA: SeaWorld Spied Big-Time
“A SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. employee posed for years as an animal-rights activist, joining protests against the company over its use of captive killer whales, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” Bloomberg Business reports.
The man reportedly protested at SeaWorld in San Diego, among other places, using a fake identity. Bloomberg finds evidence linking two local addresses provided by the activist to real SeaWorld employees. (If this is really a spy case, it appears to be quite clumsy.)
SeaWorld has little to say except to note that “we do not comment on our security operations.” Is that an admission? A diversion? It’s not clear. The spokesman also says PETA “actively recruits animal rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld.”
UCSD Case Shines Light on Murky System
Earlier this year, bestselling author Jon Krakauer (“Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air”) exposed the injustice faced by alleged victims of sexual assault at universities in a new book. As I write for The Christian Science Monitor, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” is “stunning” and “implicates the American justice system” well beyond the cases he explores in a Montana college town.
Now, the Union-Tribune reports that UCSD’s prosecution of an alleged sexual assailant is under scrutiny in court, and a judge has ruled that a “board’s disciplinary action against a student accused of sexual misconduct was unfair and not supported by evidence.” The student reportedly got a heavier punishment as he tried to appeal a ruling against him.
The Web We Weave: Boltman Speaks
• A photo that will live in boltfamy. (@andykoppsd)
• A Chargers fan trolled me on Twitter, declaring I’m too old to be on Twitter (does that mean I need to get off MySpace too?) and a “ugly polar bear lookin ass.” Can I get a Fact Check? I’m more of a grizzly bear lookin you-know-what, quite frankly.
• ParkItDTSD.com, a most awkward URL, lets locals and visitors track parking lots downtown.
• A new map lets people dig deep into communities and see dots for every single job in the U.S.
• Bad Jesse Eisenberg. Bad!
New Opera Chief: Time for Shake-Up
David Bennett, former executive director of the Gotham Chamber Opera in New York, is now the general director of the San Diego Opera, which gave itself a last-minute reprieve from Death Row last year amid a financial meltdown. VOSD arts contributor Alex Zaragoza interviews Bennett, who says it’s time for new expectations and a new outlook.
“There is a ton of creative energy here, and new leadership at many of the cultural institutions, so the possibilities for interesting partnerships exist in ways that, perhaps, didn’t a few years ago,” he says. Bennett adds: “What I hope to do is present a variety of experiences, some large, some less so; some in traditional theaters, some not; some that touch audiences because of their grandeur, and others, because of their intimacy. There is room for all but we have to find the mix that feels right for San Diego.”
• The weekly VOSD Culture Report takes a look at Coney Island in Balboa Park, prisoner artwork, the creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and a Stormtrooper who couldn’t stop walking.
• Remember when graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, renowned for his illegal vandalism, got upset when his legal Hillcrest mural got tagged? It seemed ironic. Now, he’s in felony-level trouble in Detroit facing charges of destroying property.
Quick News Hits: Taxi!
• “A federal judge in San Diego has refused to throw out a civil rights lawsuit filed by nude dancers against the Police Department and its vice officers,” the L.A. Times reports. The strip club is Cheetahs, which played a role in the epic 2003 Strippergate scandal.
• The anti-vaxxers want voters to decide whether kids must be vaccinated to attend schools. (AP)
• Just in time for competition from Uber and Lyft, the city and the local transit system are allowing more taxi permits in a bid to eliminate a black market. (City News Service) Earlier this year, we previewed what an open taxi market would mean for the city.
Fun fact: Councilwoman Marti Emerald and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith have driven cabs in the past. I plan to stand behind them and whisper “Follow that car!” just to see if they grab an imaginary steering wheel.
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.