My husband is still traumatized from a moment back when we were dating, when he’d come to take me out to lunch while I was at work in Washington, D.C.
I rarely ventured away from my desk during those times, and I was nervously and compulsively checking my phone as I tried to slurp down a bowl of ramen. Then, a note came in about some breaking news event — probably some little-known congressman was retiring — and I was needed back at the office immediately. I got up in such a frenzy that I knocked over a chair. It could have been worse, but he was horrified and embarrassed.
At an investigative news outlet, the kind of events that make you knock over chairs in a rush to get the story happen a lot less often, but every journalist has those moments at some point.
That moment came for me and Liam Dillon a few months back, when we fled our office beach party in order to write up this declaration in what would become a successful request to make footage of a police shooting public.
And one of those moments came again this week as we combed through several hundred pages of a search warrant in the case against school board trustee Marne Foster, a case Mario Koran has consistently broken news on for the last six months or so. He even pops up in the search warrant docs a few times.
Mario ended up pulling together some great stories based on what the search warrants reveal, stories that are coherent and well-organized enough that you might not understand the frenzied mess that takes place in the office during those moments. There’s a lot of yelling from cubicle to cubicle, “Did you get to the part with the swimming pool yet?” “Cindy Marten said WHAT?” “Why is Sara underneath her desk stress-inhaling a bag of Cheetos?”
Journalism is all about those moments, and how you claw yourself out of them with something that’s actually valuable for the public. Maybe with some Cheetos dust on your face.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Ry Rivard’s piece on how San Diego officials are, in the midst of an epic drought, dumping a bunch of expensive desal water into a lake, is being shared far and wide. It drives home a message we’ve been touting for a while: Though California doesn’t have enough water, San Diego has too much.
Well, that sure was a week for our continuing investigation of school board trustee Marne Foster.
She resigned, and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Then, a judge unsealed a search warrant in the case, which included some jaw-droppers, such as: Foster pressured Superintendent Cindy Marten to get the district to pay her son’s college tuition.
And — if I can’t play this up here in my own
propaganda machine newsletter then where can I? — the warrant also reveals the two issues that drew law enforcement to the case were a possibly fraudulent legal claim regarding Foster’s son, and a fundraiser Foster held for her sons. Both of those stories were broken by VOSD’s Mario Koran, just like virtually every other development in this story. Koran also explained this week what will happen next as the board fills the vacant seat. And Scott Lewis and Ry Rivard talked about The Week in Foster on this week’s podcast.
So far, the massive Lilac Hills development has managed to get around many formidable obstacles in its path. Now it’s hoping to get past two more big ones by going directly to voters.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is about to roll out a test run of body cameras. The watchdog group that handles complaints against the department has some worries about the policies governing the cameras’ use.
Meanwhile, the candidates for city attorney all weighed in with their takes on city policies on police body cameras. They range from wanting to release almost everything to wanting to release almost nothing.
The La Colonia de Eden Gardens neighborhood in Solana Beach was founded by Mexican farmworkers, and is still populated with many of those founders’ family members. Crime and other problems kept it from catching developers’ eyes, but now everything is changing.
Innovations Academy, a charter in Scripps Ranch, might have to find a new location for the fourth time in less than 10 years. The challenge isn’t theirs alone, writes Mario Koran: “Finding a permanent facility is the single biggest challenge for charter schools, and one of the biggest obstacles to growth.”
What I’m Reading
Did You Know There’s an Important Football Game Today?
• I don’t care about the Broncos, but I’m definitely rooting for receiver Demaryius Thomas’ mother, who received clemency from President Obama just six months ago for a nonviolent drug offense (that, somehow, didn’t even involve drugs). Her story is incredible. (ESPN)
• In this piece on the NFL, Mark Leibovich describes AT&T Stadium as a “pleasure palace,” the NFL logo is an “upside-down nipple with a football floating on top” a league executive has “a beakish nose that makes him somewhat resemble an actual sea hawk” and the drama over which team(s) got to move to Los Angeles was like “a kind of reality version of ‘Game of Thrones.’” What a delight. (New York Times Magazine)
• A reporter covering Flint, Mich., for the past few years reflects on what it was like to watch residents there go from perpetually dismissed by local and state politicians over their concerns about water quality, to finally taken seriously by national media. (Mediaite)
• Molly Ball eulogizes Rand Paul’s presidential campaign as only she can. (The Atlantic)
When Women Who Like Politics Go Out in Public
• An absolutely terrifying account from Melissa Harris-Perry of staving off an attack at the Iowa caucuses. (Anna Julia Cooper Center)
• The culture of sexual harassment at the Missouri state capitol. (Kansas City Star)
• A Michigan judge gives a scathing 30-minute speech before sentencing a former Michigan cop who violently beat a black motorist. (Mic)
• L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti slow-jams a freeway closure. (L.A. Times)
Line of the Week
“There are few holes deeper than those in the heart of a 13-year-old girl.” – The searing lede to a column about the murder of a Virginia teenager.