When I first graduated from journalism school, I had dreams of becoming an op-ed writer. The only problem: Those folks tended to be experts on something — they had PhDs in history, or decades of reporting under their belts. I had a bachelor’s degree and some hustle.
The then-editorial director at the Los Angeles Times became a sort-of mentor to me, and told me something that blew my mind: I was already an expert, on being a millennial. That led to my first big published piece, in the Times, refuting a study that suggested — stop me if you’ve heard this before — that millennials were all spoiled brats. Sure enough, I became a go-to millennial spokeswoman. I pushed back against claims that millennials don’t care about news. I pushed back against claims that millennials were being corrupted by social media. I pushed back against claims that young people should surrender some of their rights while they’re in school. Each published piece came with a surge of exhilaration — that I was gradually building up a portfolio of work in big-time papers, and that I was hopefully helping folks understand that people my age want what everyone wants: to work hard, and to have a shot at building a nice life. Pretty simple.
Now it’s about eight years later, and I find myself more exhausted than exhilarated by the steady surge of “Can you believe these damned millennials?” pieces. The latest was an especially terrible New York Times piece that was widely mocked. But no matter how many brilliant folks keep refuting them — this week, Ann Friedman had a characteristically awesome response to the latest foolishness — I know the onslaught will continue. It. Always. Does.
I no longer see these silly trend pieces condemning all millennials as entitled aliens as an opportunity to push back, to help people understand what should be obvious: that each generation has hard workers, lazy folks and everything in between. I’ve got too much work to do running a newsroom to stop and read about how lazy I am.
What VOSD Learned This Week
This week, we got some details on the ballot measure the Chargers are prepping that would raise hotel-room taxes and pave the way to a downtown convadium. This is a separate plan than the Citizens’ Plan being backed by Cory Briggs and co. And Mayor Kevin Faulconer doesn’t seem to like the Chargers’ proposal any more than he likes Briggs’. At least not yet he doesn’t.
That’s the thing, though. If a new court ruling holds up, the Chargers might not need the mayor’s support as much as they thought. The ruling suggests that citizens’ initiatives that impose a special tax – like one to pay for a stadium – only need to pass with a simple majority. This is, um, a big deal.
Another countywide initiative doesn’t seek to raise taxes, it instead asks voters to approve the big Lilac Hills development. The initiative wouldn’t just give the development a green light, though, it would protect the developers from lawsuits and make it so that they don’t have to build certain accommodations.
Five years after San Diego Unified made neighborhood schools its No. 1 priority, those schools aren’t retaining any more students than before. One thing the district is doing to reverse the trend: pumping bond money into projects like new stadiums and tearing down failing schools and rebuilding them. Whether the closest school is crumbling or has a spotty academic record are certainly factors parents weigh when deciding where to send their kids. Shiny new facilities, the thinking goes, will make parents reconsider sending kids out of the neighborhood. Current and former school leaders say those projects are sexier than spending the money repairing crumbling facilities.
On the Good Schools for All podcast, Scott and Laura talk with the filmmaker behind “Most Likely to Succeed,” which features San Diego’s High Tech High, and mull the problems with teaching reading, math, social studies and science as totally separate subjects.
Or, maybe all of this is moot and schools are actually totally fine.
San Diego Police originally sold body cameras as an investment in transparency. Once they got them, though, they quickly became a tool to protect law enforcement. If you want to see footage from the cameras, your best bet is to sue the city, or wait for an impending riot.
This week, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said that she doesn’t even want a policy outlining when footage should be released.
Politics roundup: State lawmakers discuss why they re-introduce bills that have already been rejected, and how they set them up for success on the second (or third, or fourth) try. On the San Diego Decides podcast, we talked to mayoral candidate Ed Harris, and parsed the races for city attorney and City Council District 9. Over in District 3, the candidates both agree Balboa Park could use its own funding stream but disagree on how to get it.
What I’m Reading
• Two great pieces of political assumption-busting: David Lauter debunks the myths that have sprung up about Donald Trump drawing millions of new voters into the campaign, and Paul Mitchell created an amazing outsider’s guide to covering the California primary.
• The crisis in Venezuela, captured: Folks spend hours in line for a shot at buying a bag of rice or coffee – and if they do get them, “The price is steep: a one kilo (1.6 pounds) bag of rice costs the equivalent of two days of pay. A large can of milk costs one full week’s salary.” (Marketplace)
• How Rep. Paul Ryan went “from right-wing warrior-wonk crusading against the welfare state, to bleeding-heart conservative consumed with a mission to the poor.” (Buzzfeed)
• My old employer, POLITICO, has a newish European venture, headquartered in Brussels. One of the editors there wrote a great essay about the “new normal” of life under high terrorist threat.
• 20 Years of MMMBop. (Vulture)
Line of the Week
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” – A stunning admission from Richard Nixon’s former domestic policy adviser, recounted in a new Harper’s piece on drug legalization.