One of the big winners of Donald Trump’s visit to town was San Diego police officers, who controlled a huge amount of people in a tense and difficult environment, and won lots of praise for doing so.

In a press conference as the officers were still working to control the crowds, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told reporters that her team had prepared for exactly this type of scenario. It showed.

But her saying so reminded me of something else she’s said often: That she strongly opposes giving the public more access to police body camera footage, but that she might do so under some unknown set of conditions in order to prevent “a riot.”

Yet when all the ingredients were in place for a riot — lightning rod political figure, a tense crowd in a city full of the Latino residents Donald Trump has spent the year vilifying — the police were the picture of professionalism. It might help that the eyes and cameras of the nation were on hand.

Far less publicized was something else that happened Friday. A bill in the state Legislature that would make police give the public more information about instances of misconduct died. It would have “allowed the public to access internal reports in cases where police departments found their officers had committed sexual assault or racial profiling, lied on the job or other significant examples of misconduct. It also would have made available investigations of officer-involved shootings and other major use-of-force cases,” according to Liam Dillon.

Those types of instances almost universally occur out of public view. And without more transparency, they’ll stay that way.

I don’t want to diminish the police department’s work on Friday. They did a good job and they deserve to be recognized for it.

But it’s much easier to control a situation you had months to prepare for. It’s much easier to adhere to protocol when you’re surrounded by hundreds of other officers who have your back, and hundreds of TV cameras and reporters watching your every move.

It’s the moments that happen in the opposite set of circumstances: Say, when a mentally ill man gets shot in a dark alley at night, for example, that things might go differently. And those are the moments the public deserves to have a record of.

What VOSD Learned This Week

San Diego Unified officials who signed a big project-labor agreement in 2009 touted the deal as a win for local workers, who they said would get the lion’s share of the work. The deal has been expanded since then, but so far the district has fallen far short on its local hiring targets.

Speaking of San Diego Unified, we believe the district is improperly withholding records related to Marne Foster and the removal of Mitzi Lizarraga as principal of the School for Creative and Performing Arts. After exhausting other avenues, we’ve decided to challenge the district in court for the records.

On top of investigating San Diego Unified, we also want to explain its triumphs, its challenges and how local schools work. That’s been the goal of Mario Koran’s column The Learning Curve. He explains how that column will be changing and improving.


I know what you’re thinking: Salt + avocados = the most delicious combination possible. It turns out, though, that salty water is quite bad for avocados, and San Diego’s avocado industry is hurting as a result.

How did San Diego get to be the avocado king of the country, anyway? It’s not because of the weather or the soil – it’s because of taxes.


Just south of San Diego, in National City, developers are building a housing complex in a walkable neighborhood that’s close to transit – yet they still don’t want to cede any parking spaces, highlighting the eternal struggle to build more units and to emphasize public transportation options.

A little south of that, new details emerged this week about San Ysidro’s struggling school district. On top of corruption charges that sent some school officials to prison, a new report says the district has misspent millions in school bond funds.

And a little south of that, we checked in on one of the candidates for Tijuana mayor with a pretty crazy backstory – he’s a former police chief who’s been repeatedly accused of torture and who was himself shot and paralyzed last year.



Ed Harris has changed his thinking on building more homes near transit.

Matt Hall explains – kind of? – the thinking behind the Union-Tribune’s surprising endorsements as of late.

Friday was a big day in Sacramento, as more than 400 bills learned their fate – including some big ones from local legislators.

What I’m Reading

Jon Ralston is the authority on all things Nevada politics. In a beautiful essay, he opens up about how he’s been slowly gaining authority on another political issue: His beloved daughter Maddy has become his beloved son Jake. (Ralston Reports)

Asian-American actors talk with Amanda Hess about their fight for visibility in Hollywood. (New York Times)

I remain surprised and delighted that MTV now consistently churns out political writing that is this good.

This is a hilarious response to the bombshell news that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been secretly bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker. (Wired)

If you find yourself wading through political mailers, commercials and depressing political coverage, watch this video and have a bit of your faith restored – and dissolve into a puddle of feelings. (CBS News)

Line of the Week

“I’ve always thought of myself as a potato, where you start out as this thing. You can’t eat a raw potato, but you are a bundle of potential. … I feel excited now because the running and filmmaking are what my potato self is becoming. … The other thing about potatoes: They don’t rot the way other food does. They don’t decompose. They grow eyes and ask you to make them into something. I’ve wanted to become something, and it’s always with bright eyes and not fear.” – Distance runner/perfect weirdo Alexi Pappas

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.