The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.
We’re trying to raise $24,000 over the course of 24 hours. We need to pay our bills and we have plans to build out our own podcast studio and produce more shows on topics you care about. Help us make all that happen by donating today, and join us tonight for our last live podcast of the summer at Thorn Street Brewery with guest Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. It’s free, but let us know you’re coming here.
Few issues are causing more tension in places like Pacific Beach than short-term and vacation rentals facilitated by the booming Airbnb app. But despite pledges to come up with something, San Diego city leaders had yet to offer a regulation.
That is, until now. The mayor’s staff released draft recommendations Wednesday for an ordinance that would allow at least some short-term renting in San Diego. Emails obtained by our Lisa Halverstadt indicate a measure was ready in early July but the mayor’s office held it when Council members disagreed on some of the specifics.
Potholes Cost Pols at the Polls
A new study suggests that San Diego elected officials pay a price at the ballot box when the neighborhoods they represent have more pothole complaints.
VOSD reporter-turned-political scientist Vlad Kogan, now at The Ohio State University, and a colleague analyzed years’ worth of pothole statistics from the city. Their conclusion: Incumbents fared more poorly at the polls when their districts had more recent pothole complaints. The more complaints, the worse the ballot performance.
The study, however, doesn’t prove there’s a cause-and-effect relationship here. It’s possible there may not be an actual connection between potholes and election results. Even if there is, bad roads (or, for that matter, good roads) may not keep an incumbent in or out. “It’s still very hard to unseat an incumbent,” Kogan tells VOSD’s Liam Dillon. “It’s just a little easier when city streets are bad.”
Hot Government-on-Government Action
Here’s a weird fact of life in California: Governments spend money to lobby other governments. “It’s always been frustrating for me to see how much taxpayer funds are being diverted from services, and sending that money to the state Capitol so that we can hire lobbyists,” a former legislator and current Riverside county supervisor tells KQED.
So how much money are we talking about? More than $23 million by government agencies from cities to school districts in just the first 6 months of the year. Hey big spenders: San Diego County is one of the top spenders at $2.6 million from 2013-now, while the teeny little city of Del Mar spends the 3rd-most per capita.
And the biggest spender per capita? By far, it’s the L.A. industrial burg of Vernon, famed as a hotbed of corruption and and, most recently, as an inspiration of the second season of HBO’s “True Detective.”
Chargers Show Polls
Last week, Scott Lewis wrote about the war of polling that had broken out between the Chargers and mayor. Now we have their results.
In a series of tweets, Lewis passed along results the Chargers released about how San Diego voters would take a proposal to spend up to $400 million in city and county general funds for a new stadium (hint: not well). But he also compares it to the mayor’s polling. While the Chargers’ results show a deep distaste for tax dollars going to a stadium and the mayor’s seems to show support for a plan that includes government money, they aren’t necessarily contradictory. They’re worded quite differently.
It’s kind of crazy we’ve reached a situation where the Chargers are trying to convince us how unlikely it is voters would support taxpayer dollars for a new stadium and the mayor is doing the opposite.
Lewis also got the full presentation the city/county negotiating team gave the NFL when its vice president was in town. It’s pretty much the same thing the city released this week but it’s 30 pages longer. Perhaps you can spot what’s different and report back.
The Chargers’ representative yesterday said that the team is committed to Los Angeles now. But at least one NFL team owner – perhaps the best known of them – is not supporting the Chargers’ Carson plan.
New York Times Scorches SDPD on Facial Recognition Software
The New York Times takes a look at how the SDPD is using facial recognition software. The story mentions the district attorney’s prosecution of a man who dared to make posts on Facebook and a controversial police policy on “curb-sitting” that we’ve explored.
The SDPD Twitter account, though, blew up in response, accusing the Times of botching the story and ignoring the police department’s complaints. “[The] device is used to ID people by using prior booking photos. If u haven’t been arrested in SD you won’t be in the database,” read one SDPD response to many users sharing the article.
The Times article now includes corrections but the thrust of the piece stands.
The story, incidentally, refers to a “Mr. Hanson, who is white and lives in the city’s upscale Ocean Beach neighborhood,” who “said his treatment by officers had been as intrusive as it was frightening.”
Ocean Beach is now upscale, according to the Gray Lady.
Poway School Chief’s Lead in Salary
A watchdog group is out with a fresh list of salaries from California school districts, and the superintendent of Poway Unified schools — which serve Poway and nearby areas like Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Peñasquitos — is way up there. He’s tops in the county with a total compensation of almost $480,000, the Union-Tribune reports.
We’ve reported extensively on controversies in the high-performing Poway district over the last few years. As we noted, district officials get the same raise they negotiated for teachers, a seeming conflict of interest. Even so, a big feud has divided teachers and the administration, and a new report says the district’s education technology department is a mess.
And here’s a surprise from the new numbers: The chief of the San Marcos district is at No. 2 countywide, making more than the woman who runs the much larger San Diego district.
Drought Update: Balls In
• Municipal reservoirs, full of water waiting for a non-rainy day, suffer from evaporation. L.A. has tapped a unique solution: Covering the surface of one reservoir with 96 million little black plastic balls. In addition to blocking the sun, they are supposed to cut down on algae. (New York Times)
• This morning, we’ll get the latest El Niño forecast from the National Weather Service, giving us more insight into whether it will be a drought-buster.
North County Report: Build, Build, Build!
VOSD’s new North County Report offers links to news stories about a voter-centered bid for a new mall on the lagoon in Carlsbad, a big new project in Oceanside, and a new movie theater and nerd convention in Escondido.
Thumbs Down on ‘Hooking Up’ Hoopla
A Vanity Fair story about the dating app Tinder has stoked online chatter about an out-of-control “hookup culture” and a bizarre Tinder freakout-via-Twitter, but New York Magazine says the article misses the truth. Exhibit A: San Diego State professor Jean Twenge, a guru on the supposed confidence and miserable-ness of millennials. (We talked to her in 2013.)
“Suffice to say that this reporter had her conclusion and then just didn’t want to believe anything I told her about her analysis,” Twenge told the writer of the NY Mag article about the writer of the Vanity Fair article.
Quick News Hits: Rival Strategy
• “San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods agreed to pay $6 million to settle criminal charges Wednesday in the death of a worker who was cooked in an oven with tons of tuna,” City News Service reports. We’ve chatted with Bumble Bee’s CEO and dug into what the tuna company will do as fewer people eat tuna. Still a mystery: what bees have to do with tuna.
• Meanwhile, “a San Diego company will pay $5.9 million to settle allegations that it overcharged the federal government for computers used at a national security research and development laboratory in New Mexico.” (AP)
• Accusations are flying at the city’s first legally permitted medical marijuana shop. (CityBeat)
• Drones are smuggling drugs across the border now. It’s a “new smuggle-by-air tactic.” (Union-Tribune)
• Animal shelters throughout the county are waiving adoption fees as part of a “Clear the Shelters” event.
Political Jujitsu, S.D.- & Missouri-Stye
You may recall that Republican mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio’s campaign supported an unusual person in the 2012 primary election: his ultimate rival on the general ballot, a Democrat named Bob Filner.
The idea was to boost a rival seen as the easiest kill later on during the November election. One approach was to send out messages about his liberalness that would appeal to certain Democrats but appall other voters. “We got involved in the primary in places to… help Bob Filner run the campaign that he was incapable of running for himself,” a DeMaio consultant boasted to inewsource, “to help him get across the finish line.”
Sneaky? Probably. Effective? Nope, Filner won. Common? At least a bit. In an eye-popping Politico commentary, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill spills the beans on how she manipulated the process to get Missouri voters to make sure her rival would be the Republican Todd Akin, whose dumb comments about rape torpedoed his chances and helped her win.
“I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad — and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him,” McCaskill writes. “And we needed to run the hell out of that ad.”
Hmm. Does this support-your-weakest-rival strategy work on dating apps like Tinder? Asking for a friend.
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.