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As Mario Koran read through the widely shared New York Times story on the San Diego Police Department’s use of facial recognition software, one phrase in particular jumped out to him (emphasis ours):
Here, beat cops, detectives and even school police officers have been using hand-held devices to create a vast database of tens of thousands of photos of people …
Really? Our schools’ police force too?
San Diego Unified was given facial recognition devices by the Automated Regional Justice Information System, a network of law enforcement agencies in San Diego County that share information. The devices let officers photograph a person’s face, run that image through a database of hundreds of thousands San Diego mugshots, and match it to features of someone who’s been stopped before.
A district spokeswoman said the devices had only been a few times on adults who had been involved with criminal investigations, and that the district had no plans to expand their use. “More specifically,” the spokeswoman, Ursula Kroemer added, “we have no plans and/or interest in photographing students and uploading their pictures.”
But the district also doesn’t have a policy in place to limit the devices’ use. “Members of the school board did not approve use of the technology, and parents didn’t hear about it before it came into the district,” Koran reports.
That kind of unstructured use is a potential civil rights issue, says one expert.
Back to School: Legislature Edition
Lawmakers in Sacramento reconvene Monday to blaze through a few items on their legislative to-do lists before the session ends Sept. 11. Gov. Jerry Brown will then have a month to dole out a yea or nay for every bill that lands on his desk.
Sara Libby rounds up three major developments to keep an eye on: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill that would rein in Civic San Diego (the city-run nonprofit that handles permitting and planning for land use projects downtown); Speaker Toni Atkins’ ambitious affordable housing bill (which would establish “a permanent funding source for affordable housing, through a fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding commercial and residential real-estate sales,” according to Atkins’ office); and a special session on transportation infrastructure.
Also in this week’s Sacramento Report: a couple new dos and don’ts thanks to Gov. Brown, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s efforts to update sex ed and Oceanside lifeguards get denied on disability benefits.
• Our live podcast on Thursday night also took on a Sacramento spin: Assemblywoman Gonzalez played co-host with Scott Lewis and me, giving us a chance to ask about her Civic San Diego bill, why reforming the state’s environmental law is such a headache and the political futures of some of her colleagues.
Quick News Hits
• Jon Fleischman, an influential Republican blogger based in California and the guy behind Flash Report, tweeted some real talk we can apply to the stadium debate: “The culture of major league sports, where these billionaire team owners feel like they are owed taxpayer subsidies, makes me ill.”
• The taxpayers bit back this week when the Chargers’ marketing team dropped the team’s new slogan for the season: “We’re all in.” All in where, exactly? (NBC 7)
• After news last month that grocer Haggen would lay off 700 workers throughout Southern California, the chain seems to be continuing its nosedive. Now it’s closing six stores in San Diego County. (10News)
• In his latest column, the Union-Tribune’s Steven Greenhut highlights some news from the governor’s desk: SB 411, which was signed into law Tuesday, clarifies individuals’ rights to record the police as long as “a civilian recording while an officer is in a public place, or the person recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, is not violating the law.”
• What is the matter with you people? Go get your money from the county! (City News Service)
• During our live podcast in July, Balboa Park Conservancy CEO Tomas Herrera-Mishler said access to the park was high on his list of areas that need improvement – that is, just helping folks find the place. Now, thanks to a new app, visitors will at least have a little help navigating the park once they’re inside. (KPBS)
• The Navy signed the largest-ever U.S. solar deal to power 14 military installations in California. (Union-Tribune)
• Oh good, the mayor and the NFL are still on speaking terms. (City News Service)
I can’t stop thinking about Gonzalez’s point that this stadium dance is like watching your friend try to give an uninterested lady an engagement ring. San Diego, you’re about to get friendzoned.
• It’s going to be rudely hot this weekend, according to the National Weather Service and lots of other people. (City News Service)
This might have a dramatic impact on my planned activities. Take care of yourselves – the Union-Tribune has a list of beat-the-heat spots you might want to hit up. As always, hydration is key.
Top Stories: Aug. 8-14
Here’s what stories Voice of San Diego readers were all over this week.
1. Airport Must Encourage People Not to Use New Parking Garage
2. Mayor About to Trumpet How Much We Lose on Qualcomm Stadium
3. New Stadium Plan Would Be Bigger Taxpayer Investment in Football
4. L.A. Developer Hopes Carlsbad Project Will Clear an Easier Path to Building Malls
5. The Deal With All Those Other Comic-Cons
Check out the rest of the week’s most-read stories here.
Two More Things
• What a blessing it was to see this trending on Facebook. I’m calling it now: Philip Rivers, sexiest man of the year.
Union-Tribune columnist Kevin Acee tweeted Rivers said he didn’t recall what was happening at the moment of The Face. The user who snapped the photo chimed in: It was just a matter of excellent timing.
• There are two types of road-trippers in this world: San Diego Fire Department dispatcher and marathon lipsyncher Brian Anderson, and his not-at-all-here-for-it sister. (Huffington Post)
Catherine Green is deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handles daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects. You can contact her directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5668. Follow her on Twitter: @c_s_green.