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We all thought we knew that increasing taxes to pay for a specific project required a two-thirds majority of voters to approve it. It’s in California’s Constitution and everyone here just does it that way. But this week the political earth shook when we all found out we might have been wrong, thanks to a court ruling that said the two-thirds law doesn’t apply to tax increases proposed through the ballot initiative process. Nope, for those tax increases, a simple majority of votes will do, an appeals court unanimously ruled.
“It will fundamentally change the conversation about major projects like stadiums and convention centers and go even further,” Scott Lewis writes. Powerful interest groups capable of mounting serious ballot initiatives could see the new interpretation — if it holds — as a way to more easily get public money for schools, police or projects desired by the business community. But you don’t have to get all futuristic to see how yuge this decision could be for San Diego. “Now, the Chargers … might be able to raise the tax with a simple majority,” Lewis writes, referring to a recent report saying the Chargers want to propose a tax increase to get a downtown stadium built. The mayor’s office has repeatedly said such an effort would be unrealistic due to: the two-thirds rule!
• If the Chargers can’t decide what they want to do, they may just hang on through the 2017 season while they figure it out. (NBC 7)
• The local Chamber of Commerce said it is open to considering a non-contiguous convention center expansion, perhaps one mixed with the aforementioned stadium. (KPBS)
• The Union-Tribune put together a little Q-and-A on the whole convadium situation.
Yep, It’s a Big Deal
Election law attorney Jim Sutton bids adieu to the two-thirds requirement for initiative-passed tax increases, and says the change guarantees the Citizens’ Plan aiming for the November election will not require a two-thirds majority, as some have argued. The decision is part of a “one-two punch to the argument that the Citizens’ Plan requires a two-thirds vote,” Sutton writes. “The court confirmed that these constitutional amendments were all designed to protect taxpayers by limiting the power of local government to impose taxes, but were not limits on the power of the people to impose taxes via the initiative process.” Citizen, tax thyself.
Top Cop Knows Best (According to Top Cop)
Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman was in front of a City Council committee on Wednesday arguing that everything related to police body cameras is fine and that the city doesn’t need to create a policy for when or how it releases body camera footage.When pressed by the committee for an outline of when video would be released, Zimmerman insisted that she and Mayor Kevin Faulconer should continue to privately make those decisions on a case-by-case basis.
She also said “regional law enforcement leaders are working on a countywide protocol,” which could be finished soon, Andrew Keatts reports.
Choosing a Good School
Parents have a lot of factors to consider when they pick a school to send their child to. Convenience, character, academic achievement, cool mascot; all of these things probably play an important role in the decision. Mario Koran reports on how the academics of a school are a special consideration, since some neighborhood schools are listed as “Program Improvement schools,” which entitles children who are set to attend those schools to get priority consideration at a different school with better academics.
Koran also explains how the school choice program works for parents districtwide: “You pick your three top schools, complete your application and then wait for a call.”
And there’s always charter schools, too. “Applying to charter schools doesn’t affect the choice application you submit to the district,” Koran reports.
• In our most recent episode of Good Schools For All, our new education podcast, we brought in filmmaker Greg Whiteley. He’s the guy who made the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed,” which focuses on High Tech High and how its unique project-based approach is impacting students. Whiteley previously made the film “Mitt,” which gave an insider view into the failed campaign of Mitt Romney.
It’s Getting Lonely Here
Using Census Bureau data, the Union-Tribune reports people are leaving San Diego in droves, relative to the numbers previously leaving. “San Diego’s negative net domestic migration [is] more than 9,000,” a new low, they report. “The previous record was about 12 times smaller, a loss of 790 people.”
As for what’s to blame, the usual suspects are there, like expensive housing. Last year, we explained why the Cold War deserves some of the blame.
• A former Thomas Jefferson School of Law student sued her alma mater for failing to live up to her expectations once she graduated. Jurors disagreed with her. (New York Times)
• Donald Trump’s got a big lead in the California Republican primary. (KQED)
• If you’ve ever hiked the popular trail at Iron Mountain, you know parking can get be hard to find. The city and county teamed up to add more parking. (NBC 7)
• Bob Filner’s sexual harassment trial is ongoing, but the jury gets the weekend off since a key witness failed to show up on Thursday. (Union-Tribune)
• The city is considering changes to the inner workings of the board of citizens who review police incidents. (NBC 7)
• The person who shot all those green parrots has this ever-increasing bounty on them. (NBC 7)
• The Sheriff’s Department has scanned more than 8 million license plates over last two years. You’re not allowed to know which ones. (NBC 7)
• Interested in toilet to tap? Then you’ll love shower to flower. (New York Times)
Breaking National Association of Counties News
At a Society of Professional Journalists event on Thursday, County Supervisor Dave Roberts was given a chance to “grade the media” on how it did covering some troubling reports coming out of his office. Roberts claimed he wouldn’t have been subject to the same treatment if he wasn’t gay and a Democrat, and that “San Diego loves to eat its own.” He also complained about which stories the media chooses to report on. “I was elected to the National Association of Counties. No one will report that,” he reportedly said. “Except Voice of San Diego.”
We will do no such thing!
Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him tips at email@example.com or tip him off on Twitter: @loteck.