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Michael Beck, the county’s most influential environmentalist and director of the Endangered Habitats League, considers himself a pragmatist who’s willing to work with developers because that’s better than the alternative. As he puts it, “it’s always the case, ‘Oh, look at it, EHL is already giving away the farm.’ No, we’re not giving away the farm, you idiot. The barn door is open and we’re losing it right now as we sit here if we don’t do something about it.”
His critics are just as blunt, however, and they say Beck is “too willing to compromise with developers or politicians who want to build on land not save it,” as VOSD’s Ry Rivard reports in an extensive profile of Beck. They think he’s a fraud and sellout, and he doesn’t care: “My bottom line is, what would the gnatcatcher want me to do?”
• A new report looks at the past decade and says 120,000 acres of natural habitat in a big chunk of southwestern California and northern Baja California have been lost to farms and development. Only 28,000 acres have been newly preserved, the report says, all in the U.S. (KPBS)
Brown OKs Fast Track for Stadium Review
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday approved the city’s request to have any potential CEQA lawsuits filed against a new stadium get an expedited review.
In order to get Brown’s approval, the city had to prove the stadium would be good for the environment, Liam Dillon explained last month:
The city will have to purchase carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gas increase, which it estimates will be nearly 200,000 metric tons between now and 2035. That’s the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from almost 40,000 passenger vehicles.
This will be expensive, though the exact costs depends on what kind of carbon credits the city buys and when it makes the purchase.
The Legislature’s joint budget committee is the last stop for this fast-track city request. The committee is co-chaired by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Sen. Mark Leno.
There’s one curious potential snag: To get this fast-track authorization, projects are supposed to be privately financed and “do not require taxpayer financing.”
But of course the mayor’s Mission Valley stadium plan does require taxpayer financing. In a letter to Leno and Weber, the governor said, essentially, it was not his problem to solve.
Downtown Stadium Push Gets Petition
Also: Attorney Cory Briggs and pals will launch an initiative Thursday that, if it qualifies for the ballot and is passed, would eliminate the city’s Tourism Marketing District, which adds a 2 percent surcharge onto hotel room bills on top of the city’s 10.5 percent tax. It would also then raise the basic tax to 15.5 percent. The initiative would also pave the way for a stadium and campus-like Convention Center downtown.
It would only require a simple majority of voters for approval, not two-thirds.
The booster group, the San Diego Stadium Coalition, which has been advocating a downtown solution, immediately pledged to raise $50,000 for the effort.
Gun in Fatal Police Shooting Was Fake
On Tuesday afternoon, San Diego Police officers shot and killed a man who reportedly threatened them in the middle of the Gaslamp Quarter near an entrance to Horton Plaza. Now, it turns out that the police flubbed an initial report saying the man was armed. In fact, he had a replica of a gun.
Also, the officers in the shooting didn’t have a chance to turn on their body cameras, the police chief said. (10 News)
• In other law enforcement news, the Border Patrol must now follow stricter protocols when agents take people into custody. “Among the most significant provisions, TEDs requires the safekeeping and return of any personal belongings; the maintaining of proper detention standards, including access to food and water and appropriate room temperatures; and language on gender identity,” the U-T reports. Critics say more needs to be done.
• District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is among the law enforcement types who are in Washington D.C. to call for less time behind bars for minor offenders. (NBC 7)
Dumanis, however, opposed Prop. 47, and she’s been fighting a ruling that said “juvenile offenders have the same rights as adults to reduced sentences under Proposition 47,” the L.A. Times reported last month. Dumanis doesn’t want to lose a DNA database of samples gathered when people were convicted of felonies that will now be considered misdemeanors. An ACLU attorney said she’s “still clinging to her mind-boggling position that having a felony record is a good thing for San Diego’s youth.”
• Get ready to see this case on “Dateline” or “48 Hours”: “Three members of a reported ‘master-slave’ sex cult were convicted Wednesday of murdering a young Marine wife from Fallbrook,” the L.A. Times reports. One of the killers is a former Marine sergeant.
The mother of the 22-year-old victim, Brittany Killgore, who was killed in 2012, said she was “a beautiful young woman, inside and out, and unfortunately she ran across people that were not good, who were monsters.”
Ruling May Affect Poway Bond Advisers
“Poway Unified’s trusty financial advisers Dolinka Group have collected more than $2 million from the district over the last five years, much of that under a contract that may violate state conflict-of-interest laws after a new ruling that broadens those laws’ reach,” VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports.
These advisers helped the Poway district with its infamous 2011 bond sale in which it saddled certain local property owners with a $981 million bill to pay off a $105 million loan.
The potential problem for the advisers lies in conflict-of-interest laws and a ruling that says advisers generally can’t profit from their advice to government agencies. The Poway district is now trying to figure out what to do.
Taxpayers May Pay $99K in Another Filner Case
One of many wrenching moments in the Bob Filner saga came when Katherine Ragazzino, a former Marine suffering from a brain injury and PTSD, and nurse Michelle Tyler came forward. They described how San Diego’s mayor sexually harassed them when they came to his office seeking help with a benefit claim.
Now, the City Council will consider a settlement of $99,000 to the women. (City News Service)
Meanwhile, the city is paying $86,000 to two paramedics who were attacked by a police officer-turned-parking enforcement officer. (NBC 7)
Airport Warns of Danger from Downtown Cranes
Officials at Lindbergh Field are raising the alarm about those construction cranes that have been popping up downtown. According to the U-T, airport officials say they’re taller than the height allowed by the FAA; downtown has strict height limits on buildings because the airport is close by.
The cranes are helping to build a courthouse expansion. The contractors hadn’t commented to the U-T by the time it published its story.
Quick News Hits: Streetwise, These Names Are Nuts
• VOSD’s North County report is chock full of news about Oceanside, Poway, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Ramona, Carlsbad and San Marcos.
• It’s hard out there for a supermarket: Now Fresh & Easy stores are going to shut down. There are eight stores in the county. (L.A. Times and NBC 7)
• Carol Wallace, president and CEO of the Convention Center one of San Diego’s most high-profile African-American women, is retiring at the end of this year. (Via press release)
• Winter is coming, but it may not be worse than this wacko “Game of Thrones”-themed drought ad from West Hollywood.
• A half-dozen readers responded to the Morning Report’s excursion into unusual local street names yesterday. Some noted a few other weird ones: Secret Place and Rondevoo Road in Lemon Grove and Unida Place and Ediwhar Street (“Rawhide” backwards, sorta) in Serra Mesa, both connecting to Haveteur Way.
Another reader explained why we once had a street apparently named after a man named Agoston Haraszthy: He was a Hungarian nobleman and the first sheriff of San Diego County. But he’s best known as the founding father of California winemaking.
Finally, this same reader gently corrects my spelling of Point Loma’s Xenophon Street, named after the Greek historian. Xorry about it.
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.