We have a new school board member in San Diego, voters appear to have rejected a big new mall in Carlsbad and the Chargers shook things up big time by … endorsing a complex hotel-room tax ballot measure.
Let’s start with the school board.
The four remaining members of the San Diego school board chose Sharon Whitehurst-Payne to fill the District E seat vacated by Marne Foster. There was significant support at the meeting for LaShae Collins, including from Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. But the school board was unanimous in its support for Whitehurst-Payne. Both Collins and Whitehurst-Payne have said they are running to fill the seat permanently. Elections are in June for the primary and November for the runoff.
Chargers Call Their Shot
The football team made big news Tuesday by endorsing the so-called Citizen’s Plan — the initiative that would eliminate a levy hotels put on room bills, increase the city’s tax in its place by five percentage points and prohibit the expansion of the Convention Center on its current site.
It prohibits, in fact, the very expansion Mayor Kevin Faulconer pledged, in his State of the City speech just last month, to put on the ballot. We’re waiting for the mayor to decide whether he’s going to put it on the ballot — to get on June’s ballot it would need to be through the City Council by March 10. It seems pretty obvious the Chargers were hoping to influence that decision when they made their announcement Tuesday.
The Chargers released no other specifics about the vision for downtown. The Citizens Plan is organized by lawyer Cory Briggs, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and JMI Realty with funding from John Moores and JMI. It prohibits public funding for a football stadium downtown so the financing the alliance envisions must be something like what Liam Dillon described here. And the team was not sure about whether it would need to put a complementary ballot measure on the ballot alongside the Citizens Plan — an initiative that would actually outline the stadium vision and other issues.
The Chargers’ Fred Maas, who is in charge of pulling the deal together, took some questions.
Measure A in Carlsbad Appears to Fail
The controversial measure that would approve a new mall in Carlsbad, the Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan, appeared to have not gotten the support of voters with 100 percent of precincts reporting at 11:50 p.m. If that count holds, it failed by a mere 186 votes. It’s unclear if many absentees or other votes remain. You can check the latest results here in the morning. As one observer noted, interest was intense. It looks like it was better turnout than in the last general election.
— Scott Lewis
Body Cameras for Transit Contract Cops
The Metropolitan Transit System, which runs San Diego’s buses and trolleys, is expanding its law-enforcement body camera program, now requiring private security officers to wear them. That may sound like a good development, but the rules — and the lack of rules — raise plenty of questions.
“While MTS has had the cameras in the field since fall 2014, they’ve not yet written formal policies for how officers are supposed to use the cameras, or for how and when the public gets to see the footage,” VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and Ry Rivard report. But there are rules for private security officers, who make up about 80 percent of the system’s security forces: They won’t be available to the public without a court order.
In a story earlier this month, we revealed how body camera footage captured MTS “officers confronting a janitor who they believed was trespassing but who was actually employed at MTS headquarters.” The janitor ended up in the hospital and is suing; the officers in the incident have been accused of violence before.
What on Earth Is Happening at U-T Parent Co.?
The Tribune Company, which owns the L.A. Times and the U-T and has been sniffing around two other large SoCal papers, is still trying to figure out why its CEO got sacked unexpectedly. A story published in the U-T provides some intriguing background: It says the no-longer-with-the-company CEO fired the L.A. Times publisher last fall because of a “clash” over Trib Co.’s ownership of the L.A. Times and U-T. It’s not clear who was on which side of that dispute or what the new CEO thinks.
Culture Report: Once Upon a ‘Great Arts City’
The Culture Report, VOSD’s weekly look at all things arty and cultural, drops in on a standing-room-only discussion last weekend discussing this perennial question: “Will San Diego ever become a great art city?”
Our own Kinsee Morlan moderated the talk, featuring positive words about local creativity and opportunity along with criticism targeting a lack of funding, media coverage and communication.
Also in the Culture Report: The return of the Electriquette (a nifty way of getting around Balboa Park 100 years ago), VOSD’s “San Diego: The Issues and The Awesome” storytelling on Instagram, and much more.
Quick News Hits: Taylor-Made
• Bill Beck, a leader in the LGBT community, has died at the age of 74. He raised more than $10 million for a variety of organizations and political candidates. (U-T)
• A 210-acre ranch in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe is for sale. How much? $92 million. (Wall Street Journal)
Meanwhile, “micro-living” may be coming to Escondido via little 300-square-foot homes that cost just $25,000. (KPBS)
• Recent studies suggest that yes, you can get results by throwing more money at schools, challenging the conservative idea that more funding just enriches teachers. (Slate)
• Cops are looking for a young suspect who punched a Whole Foods customer in Hillcrest in the face. The customer, who will require plastic surgery due to a broken facial bone, told police that the two men didn’t speak and doesn’t know what caused the attack. (NBC 7)
• Could it be a boon year for desert wildflowers out Borrego Springs way? This might be a sign: Up in Death Valley, there’s a bumper crop of wildflowers to a level not seen since 2005. (NY Times)
• What’s keeping El Niño at bay? A high-pressure system, the L.A. Times reports, although there’s talk that we could still get drenched in March (There’s precedent, after all: Way to go, Mayor Mo!) and even into April.
• Singer James Taylor is coming to town to perform in June. OK, mister. You’ve seen fire, and you’ve seen rain: A little help? Just one of those will do.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.