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Turns out, many of the speeding tickets the city of San Diego has issued might not be legally enforceable.

In a new story, Kelly Davis explains how the California Western School of Law started a traffic court clinic to help defendants fight tickets and students hone their legal skills. But the students discovered something.

Cities are forced to conduct traffic surveys every five years to justify the speed limits they set on local roads. It’s intended to make sure they don’t create sections with unreasonable limits just to bring in revenue.

The city can extend the lifetime of those surveys to 10 years. Coleen Cusack, the attorney who heads the clinic, noticed one traffic engineer’s name kept coming up, and he was certifying lots of old studies just by stamping them to say nothing had changed on the roads.

She subpoenaed the engineer, Ty Palusky. Twice. He didn’t show up either time. Both cases were dismissed.

Now, she’s asking the city to redo its traffic studies. And she’s asking the court to hold Palusky in contempt.

Faulconer to Chargers: So, Uh, What’s Your Convadium Gonna Look Like?

Mayor Kevin Faulconer asked the Chargers Friday to get much more specific about their downtown convadium plan.

He asked they consider, for instance, explaining how the $1.8 billion building might be designed, so the city can determine whether it’ll be an effective convention center expansion in the first place.

In a letter to the team’s president Dean Spanos, Faulconer said he couldn’t determine whether the Chargers were offering a good deal based on the plan that’s public right now. He attached 15 pages of questions that he wants answered.

We’ve got the letter and all the lingering questions Faulconer still has.

• Fred Maas, the former downtown redevelopment honcho who is now the Chargers’ point man on their downtown stadium project, said Friday that rejecting a downtown convadium proposal would send the Chargers to L.A., and the envisioned location wouldn’t become anything else if it doesn’t become a convadium.

Maas was reacting to downtown developer David Malmuth, who helped form a group that has said a convadium would end East Village’s progress.

“If people can leave with one thing, I want you to understand what he just told you, which is sending the Chargers back to Los Angeles,” Maas said, according to a San Diego Union Tribune story.

“I can tell you as someone who’s spent 10 years on this project, we’ve been listening to that for 10 years. And the possibility of bringing some artistic, airy fairy, consultant-based, planner-based plan to those blocks is impossible.”

City Attorney Says Democrats Don’t Believe in Jobs, Security or Freedom

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith introduced Senator Ted Cruz at a rally held here for the presidential candidate, and had some harsh words for the folks on the other side of the aisle.

“We believe in jobs, freedom and security. You know something? The Democrats don’t believe in these values,” Goldsmith said.

On this week’s episode of the Voice of San Diego Podcast, we sampled clips of the suddenly fiery partisan who has always insisted he isn’t political.

We also interviewed Mary Walshok, the associate vice chancellor for public programs and dean of extension at UC San Diego, about the history of leadership (or lack thereof) in San Diego, and how the city’s managed to do big things in spite of itself.

Sacramento Report: Latino Leaders Release Priority List

The Capitol’s powerful Latino Legislative Caucus this week announced its priority bills this week, with two bills championed by local leaders featuring prominently.

Sen. Ben Hueso is proposing to give businesses an up to $15,000 a year tax credit to hire ex-felons, especially those under 25. He says giving young ex-offenders a chance to enter the job market gives them a chance to become successful.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, meanwhile, is pursuing a bill to extend overtime pay to farmworkers, a group that’s 80 percent immigrants and 92 percent Latino.

City Gives Largest-Ever Fine to VOSD Investigation Subject

The San Diego Ethics Commission dropped its largest fine ever Friday, San Diego Union Tribune reports, issuing a $128,000 penalty to Advantage Towing and its owner, Ayman Arekat, for concealing the source of donations to Nathan Fletcher, Bonnie Dumanis and Carl DeMaio in their failed mayoral campaigns in 2011 and 2012.

The company was penalized for 32 counts of violating campaign finance laws, at $5,000 a pop.

Our old pal Liam Dillon uncovered the shady donations during his lengthy investigation into the city’s towing industry last fall. An Advantage Towing driver came right out and told him about the time his boss told him he would pay him back if he made a $500 donation to Fletcher.

“I make the check,” Zyad Raheem told Dillon. “But I didn’t make the donation.”

In Other News

• The Unified Port of San Diego Friday approved a plan that would remake National City’s waterfront – giving auto importer Pasha Automotive Services room to expand and giving residents a bit more access to the water. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Ashly McGlone dug into the deal last year, as Pasha pushed to get more space as demand for cars surged.

• San Diego’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent last month. (City News Service)

• Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre is pushing for records from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office related to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shutdown, the California Public Utilities Commission and state energy utilities. But California Attorney General Kamala Harris says she’s representing the governor, even while she pursues her own criminal investigation into the San Onofre settlement between state regulators and utilities. A former prosecutor says she can do one or the other, but not both. (KPBS)

• Apparently there is a thing called powered alcohol, apparently there is a fight over whether it should be legal, and apparently that fight is now taking place in San Diego. (KPBS)

Most-Read Stories of the Week

1. No One Can Find Balboa Park
Leaders tasked with promoting Balboa Park admit that even they had a tough time finding the park on their first try. Now they’re trying to make it easier. (Lisa Halverstadt )

2. How San Diego Is Getting Ready for Self-Driving Cars
SANDAG says the 30 miles of express, carpool and bus lanes it has built on the I-15, I-5 and I-805 could double as testing grounds for driverless cars. (Maya Srikrishnan )

3. Your Speeding Ticket Might Not Be Enforceable
Attorney Coleen Cusack wants the city to conduct valid traffic surveys. If a traffic survey is more than 10 years old, the speed limit on that portion of road is considered unenforceable under state law — but most people don’t know that. (Kelly Davis)

4. Opinion: Now That the State Has Spoken, San Diego Should Drop Its Minimum Wage Measure
The San Diego minimum wage ballot initiative still looms. This now unnecessary initiative will put city businesses at a tremendous disadvantage in the short term and create an unreasonable financial burden for most small businesses. (Harry Schwartz )

5. Oceanside Road Diet Tests City’s New Transportation Vision
It’s looking like the end of the road for the car-only highway. (Ruarri Serpa)

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

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