The state’s political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, recommended Tuesday that County Supervisor Bill Horn not vote on a big and controversial housing project in North County’s Valley Center. He will not. But Horn, who was deemed to have a conflict of interest, is steaming mad about it.
“I think this decision is outrageous!” Horn declared in a letter. “My 620-thousand District 5 residents have been disenfranchised. They have voted me into office six times as their voice and silencing them is not democracy.”
VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and Maya Srikrishnan were the first to report on the possible conflict. The agency told VOSD that Horn had not sought advice at the time. Later, Horn did seek advice and this is what he got.
“Horn’s 34-acre property is near the southern edge of the sprawling planned community, but isn’t adjacent to it. But approving the project would transform the area near Horn’s property, potentially making it a target for subsequent development, and increasing its value,” Keatts and Srikrishnan wrote.
What does this all mean? Horn was likely to support the project and his former staffer is the project’s lobbyist. Now, the developer needs to win over three of the remaining four county supervisors to secure a permit for the controversial project.
La Jolla High Head Injury Case Headed to Court
Last year, we broke the story of a student at La Jolla High who suffered a life-altering brain injury during a JV football game. Now, his family has filed a lawsuit against San Diego Unified School District, saying coaches failed to keep him safe.
When we reported the story last year, the father asked to keep the student’s name private. But the father, David Enloe, came forward to tell 10News that a coach’s decision robbed his son of the chance to lead a normal life.
The news of Enloe’s injury earlier this year kicked off a robust discussion about the future of high school football — a conversation that led San Diego Unified to institute district-wide policy changes on the way suspected head injuries are handled.
Politics Roundup: Bond vs. Bond
The city and county are wrestling over potentially competing ballot measures asking voters to boost their property taxes to pay for fixes to streets, buildings and so on. According to a U-T story, there’s concern that putting two measures on the ballot in 2016 could kill both of them; they need a two-thirds majority to pass.
• Former Mayor Jerry Sanders, who’s also the city’s ex-police chief, rallied with Rep. Scott Peters to support universal background checks for gun buyers.
Sanders, a Republican, and Peters, a Democrat, are both moderate members of their parties. As Times of S.D. reports, “Peters is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan King-Thompson background check bill, which is stalled in Congress. The bill would remove loopholes in federal laws that allow guns to be sold privately, at gun shows and over the Internet without a background check.”
• You can now watch a video of a police union-sponsored debate between the candidates for City Council in District 1, which covers much of the coast. We’ll soon be posting a podcast interview with candidate Barbara Bry, followed by chats with candidates Joe LaCava and Ray Ellis.
• You might know the name of Roque De La Fuente Jr., a developer whose lawsuit against the city over a 1986 deal spawned a $122 million settlement, various appeals and further lawsuits, and endless legal drama that continues today.
Well, guess what: He’s running for president. Of the U.S. Yes, this U.S.
Paper: Let Water Hogs Be Named, Shamed
In an editorial, The Sacramento Bee bashes the 1997 state law that prevents the public disclosure (and thus shaming) of water hogs like whomever in Bel Air is using enough water to flush toilets 20,000 times a day.
As the editorial notes, the law wasn’t specifically designed to pave the way for people to leave their faucets on. Instead, it was intended to protect the privacy of celebrities in the wake of the murder of an actress by a stalker.
The Bee notes something you may not have thought of: “Rich water hogs who live in gated enclaves are protected. But suburban homeowners could be identified if they happen to get cited and fined for overwatering.”
• In an editorial of its own, the L.A. Times slaps state coastal officials, accusing them of veering out of their lane when they targeted SeaWorld’s orca breeding program.
Behind the Curtain of the U-T’s New Troubled Owner
The New York Times is out with a strange story about internal accounting at Tribune Publishing, the owner of the Union-Tribune and LA Times. The message of the piece seems to be that the company may have forced accountants to underestimate how much money the San Diego paper would pull in so as to make the paper’s former publisher, Austin Beutner, look bad.
S.D.: Steeler Town USA?
The Chargers played a home game on Monday night, but you wouldn’t know it from the crowd’s response: There were so many Steeler fans (or so few vocal Chargers vans) that Bolts players said it was like playing on the road. (U-T)
• Mayor Faulconer has now met with four of the six team owners who are serving on the NFL’s relocation committee. The fourth owner: Art Rooney II, who owns the Steelers. He was in town for the game.
• Chew on this: California is banning the use of smokeless tobacco at Major League games in the state. Yes, that means players too. (MarketWatch)
Not on Target at Target
The U-T lists 10 local stores of various types with the highest number of overcharged items during inspections by the county. Among the stores: Family Dollar, Jos. A. Bank and Target, which overcharged on 10 percent of 619 items purchased from 2012-2014.
The chain with the highest rate: Sears and its outlets, with overcharges reported on 16 percent of 197 items purchased. The story doesn’t say how much the overcharges were.
• Don’t read this near any pencils because you might feel the need to stick one in your eye when you’re done: A Target “Bullseye” bull terrier dolled up with red makeup made an appearance at the media extravaganza honoring the opening of a controversial Target Express store.
Poor pooch. And poor attendees too. According to CityBeat, they got to watch a TV reporter cut in line to interview the dog and get audio of it barking: “‘I think we got it,’ someone says and nobody seems to acknowledge how crazy this is.”
Culture Report: Open House Galore
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report spotlights the first-ever Open House San Diego event, which launches this weekend and will be the center of this year’s Archtoberfest, an annual celebration of architecture and design in San Diego.
“More than 40 buildings and design and architectural studios have agreed to open their doors to the public,” writes VOSD art maven Kinsee Morlan. “Volunteers will be onsite at most every location from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. offering tours and other educational insights into some of the city’s most significant structures, both old and new.”
Also in the Culture Report: Art on billboards, the Wall Street Journal drops by the La Jolla Playhouse, and a regional Burning Man event looms. And you can try to figure out what the heck is going on in the cover of a new book featuring progressive-leaning fictional and non-fiction takes on the problems plaguing San Diego and Tijuana. The cover features a depiction of a skeleton, a border fence and a Hotel Del that looks like it’s been bombed.
As if they don’t have enough problems over there with all those vertigo-inducing, brain-zapping striped bike lanes.
• “Jeff & Jer,” one of San Diego’s top-rated morning shows for decades, is losing co-host Jerry Cesak to retirement. The “Jeff & Jer” team, including several other personalities who’ve become local celebrities, has stayed remarkably stable over the years. Here’s his goodbye letter.
Quick News Hits: Building Backup
• “A historic wind farm in Mexico started sending electricity across the border into San Diego County this summer, but some [U.S.] residents are still fighting it in federal court,” KPBS reports. As we reported earlier this week, SDG&E — which gets all the power produced by the wind farm — is ramping up its efforts to produce renewable power in Imperial County.
• Up the road in Orange County, batteries will soon provide power to more than 12 office buildings when there’s strain on the grid. As a guy who just binge-watched “The Walking Dead” over the weekend, I’m glad the towers may be available if there’s a zombie apocalypse and we need to hide in a place with electricity and/or stock up on office supplies. (Step away from that stapler!)
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.