It was another complicated week for politicians and cameras.

First, San Diego Rep. Scott Peters had quite a star turn when he used Periscope to stream Democrats’ sit-in on the House floor, after Republicans cut the chamber’s video feed. C-SPAN and others picked up Peters’ broadcast, and he was widely praised for finding a way around the blackout, if not ribbed a little for his camera skills. When you get gushing headlines like “Who Is Scott Peters? This Sit-In Hero Saved the Day With Periscope” you know you’ve had a pretty good week.

Meanwhile, Republicans in California are pushing for a ballot measure that would require all meetings in the Legislature to be recorded and broadcast. Assemblyman Brian Jones told me this week he favors a proposal from GOP donor Charles Munger because that version would mandate that official meetings be recorded even if they take place outside the Capitol.

It’s an admirable push for transparency. Before you get too proud, though, remember that this is the same Legislature that last year let virtually every bill aimed at boosting transparency for police body camera footage die a quiet, sad death. They did, though, pass a bill re-affirming your already existing right to film the cops with your own cell phone. So, there’s that.

Transparency and the proliferation of cameras can have unintended consequences too. Also this week, a federal court ruled in favor of gun advocates who want to use video footage from legislative hearings in political ads. If the ballot measure to require filming in the Capitol passes, that could mean a lot more footage from Sacramento will end up in campaign commercials.

And, completing the week’s weird mishmash of cameras-in-politics news, there’s the fact that Los Angeles is moving forward with a plan to roll out body cameras for its police officers. That big, $57.6-million plan that’s presumably to boost transparency also comes with this fun caveat: The footage can’t be obtained without a court order. It’s a strange patchwork of transparency pushes: Some lawmakers are turning cameras off; some want to require that they’re constantly rolling; some want to spend millions for cameras whose footage virtually no one can see.

But if Peters’ moment in the spotlight taught us anything, it’s that when people really care, they’ll find a way to make public information public — even when powerful people want the screen to fade to black.

What VOSD Learned This Week

SANDAG has a steep hill to climb if it wants two-thirds of voters to approve a tax hike to fund $18 billion worth of projects. That will be even harder now that some environmentalists and labor groups are fighting the proposal. Republicans already don’t like it – because, you know, taxes.

The head of the San Diego County  Taxpayers Association is also angry that SANDAG is using public money to fund “education” efforts about the measure.


It’s hard out here for a coastal city. But Imperial Beach and Encinitas are facing different problems.

In IB, leaders are trying to face the challenge of sea-level rise head-on but are running up against the fact that their low-income community doesn’t have enough resources.

In wealthy Encinitas, residents are continuing to hold up a state-mandated plan to build more housing.


Less than a year after opening, the Carlsbad desalination plant is facing a new round of environmental questions – and the prospect that its costly water could get even costlier.


When elected officials talk about homelessness, they tend to focus on big long-term projects. Yet, San Diego has a homelessness crisis right now. Lisa Halverstadt detailed some ideas that could make an impact in the short-term.

Meanwhile, our revelation that the rocks in Sherman Heights were part of preparations for the All-Star Game is still touching a nerve. One resident says he’s glad the rocks are there. Another says she wishes the city would make the underpass more inviting to everyone, not less.

Councilman Todd Gloria wrote in an op-ed that the city should be singularly focused on housing instead of temporary shelters and handing out food to those on the streets. And an international consultant on homelessness says he’s tired of hearing excuses from San Diego when he comes to town.


Podcastpalooza: This week’s VOSD podcasts covered the growing YIMBY movement, the push to bring a cultural museum to Chicano Park and Poway Unified’s new approach to teacher evaluations.

What I’m Reading

• This interview with Hope Hicks, Donald Trump’s press secretary, went exactly as bizarrely as you’d expect: Instead of conducting the interview she agreed to, Hicks stood silently in the room and listened as Trump talked about her. (GQ)

The Marshall Project lays bare just how sparse and unreliable data on racial profiling at traffic stops is. Our 2014 investigation revealed the San Diego Police Department was violating its own policies about collecting data on traffic stops. Last year, San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber passed a bill requiring law enforcement to collect basic data during traffic stops.

• This story about Saudi women who love to ride bumper cars – because it’s the only shot at operating a vehicle they get – is at once nutty, heartbreaking and lovely. (Wall Street Journal)

• I won’t mislead you – it might take you a week to finish this story from an investigative reporter who took a job working in a private prison in Louisiana. But it’s plenty revelatory: There are endless stabbings, one prison break, lockdowns, a host of scary measures taken to cut corners and more. (Mother Jones)

• When you hear the phrase “the cost of rape” you might think of the emotional toll an assault takes on a woman and those close to her – and of course there is one. But this piece breaks down the actual cost one family paid as a result of a college student’s rape – her tuition as her mental state went downhill, rehab bills, emergency room bills, endless doctor and therapy bills and more. (New York Times)

 The state of the domestic goddess. (Eater)

Line of the Week

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are ‘isolated.’ They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.” – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in an epic mic drop of a dissent in Utah v. Strieff

Sara Libby

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

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