Remember that big appellate court ruling that would have changed politics up and down California like nothing we’ve seen in a long time? The one that would have meant that citizens initiatives, put on the ballot by signature gathering, could raise taxes with a mere majority voter approval rather than two-thirds? Yeah, that’s now going to the California Supreme Court, which means it’s going to sit on the shelf for maybe a couple of years.
In short, it is not the law.
While the ruling would have had enormous implications throughout the state, here, it most immediately impacted the Chargers quest for a new stadium downtown. Getting a majority of voters is a lot easier than two-thirds.
The other citizen’s initiative, with a tax hike, that may be on the November ballot, the Citizen’s Plan, is designed to avoid the requirement it get two-thirds. That’s disputed and here’s supporters’ defense.
Why S.D.’s Missing Big Water Talks
Officials from California, Nevada and Arizona have been getting together for secret talks about the future of water from the Colorado River, even meeting here in San Diego. But an important player has been missing: The San Diego region’s own water officials.
Why aren’t they there to speak for the interests of our county? The authority, after all, gets two-thirds of its water from the river. Is there some sort of “Mean Girls” situation going on?
Well, in a way, actually, yes. Our Ry Rivard looked into the reasons for their absence from the crucial talks. One official puts it this way: The San Diego County Water Authority has an alienating “negativity” problem because it’s continually fighting with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
According to the official, only one of the parties involved — him —wanted the county water authority at the table.
“Some of the tensions are alluded to privately, when observers or participants suggest that San Diego could get better deals for itself if it was more amicable with Metropolitan,” Rivard reports. “It’s hard to tell if that’s actually true. It’s a counterfactual, impossible to test and disputed by the Water Authority.”
Politics Roundup: Stop, House!
“A stop work order has been issued for the construction of a controversial new development in Point Loma,” NBC 7 reports. “The two duplexes in question were under construction in Point Loma’s Roseville neighborhood. Residents said a loophole was used to make this building about 10 feet taller than code allows, and called on the mayor to stop the project. Proposition D sets a 30-foot height limit on coastal communities, and residents say developers were trying to bypass the limit.”
What do the builders say? Well… “NBC 7 reached out to the construction company Pacific Enterprise, but the person who answered asked who we were, and then said we had the wrong number before hanging up.”
• U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is weighing in on what the feds should do about homelessness. Her answer: More funding and more support for housing. (Medium)
• Industry seems to have managed to kill off a state bill by a local legislator that would eliminate the so-called “pink tax” that allows businesses to charge “different prices for similar goods on the basis of gender, allowing stores to continue to charge more for products marketed for women and girls.” (L.A. Times)
• State voters will get to decide whether to make the adult-use of marijuana legal. (NBC 7)
Theme Park Security on Rise
SeaWorld installed metal detectors last year, the L.A. Times reports, as theme parks ramp up spending on security. Malls are stepping up security too, with one in the L.A. area monitored by more than 300 cameras and teams of security teams — “one in uniform and unarmed, the other incognito and armed.”
The story notes that the Westfield shopping center company hired Scotland Yard’s top counterterrorism official in 2013. Westfield runs the Horton Plaza, Mission Valley, North County, Plaza Bonita and UTC malls plus 11 others elsewhere in the state.
What’s Next for (Ugh) Tronc?
L.A. Weekly has a long look at the epic weirdness that’s engulfed Tribune Publishing, which owns The San Diego Union-Tribune and L.A. Times, among other newspapers. (The U-T doesn’t get mentioned, however.)
Meanwhile, Gannett keeps wanting to buy the Tribune papers. “It’s not an exciting prospect,” says a former L.A. Times editor. “But what you’re comparing it to is the unknown, with Ferro and his people. An unknown darkness.”
That’s Michael Ferro, chairman of Tronc. As the story shows, he’s no stranger to interfering with news content. One thing is clear: We’ve been down that road before here.
Sports Podcast: Covering the Padres
This week, The Kept Faith, our sports podcast partners, chat with the U-T baseball reporter Dennis Lin. They discuss what it’s like covering the Padres up close on a daily basis and what lies ahead for the franchise this summer.
North County Report: Not So Zen Over Yoga
The elementary schools in Encinitas are still fighting over yoga after some parents raised the alarm that a program for students was too religious.
“Ultimately, the school board decided to continue yoga for one day per week at the cost of $416,000,” VOSD’s weekly North County Report explains, “but now the ties between Superintendent Tim Baird, the nonprofit that funded yoga in the schools for several years and a University of San Diego research center have come under scrutiny.
Also in the North County Report: Digital billboards are getting banned in much of Oceanside, the lawsuit-o-rama over housing density in Encinitas is continuing, and Del Mar is the latest city to jump into the Airbnb morass.
• Speaking of Airbnb, the N.Y. Times tracks big disputes over short-term home rentals in San Francisco and New York City. Meanwhile, here’s a headline from Gawker: “Airbnb, Just Pay Your Taxes and Follow the Law and Shut Up.”
Quick News Hits: Return of Naugles?
• “Library resources in San Diego aren’t distributed equitably among the city’s 36 branches and part of the blame goes to a ‘matching funds’ policy for donations, according to an analysis by the city auditor.” (U-T)
The gap means that a branch in a rich area like La Jolla got tens of thousands of dollars matched while one in southeastern San Diego got a match for $73. Yes, $73. The total matching amount citywide: $790,000 last year. The library is going to pool the donations and give them to branches with the fewest resources, but that means donors at richer branches might give less because their money won’t stay in their upscale neighborhoods.
• “Doctors have accepted free meals, gifts, travel expenses and other payments from the drug and medical device industry for years,” inewsource reports. Now, new data reveals the role of doctors at local hospitals: “Except for Kaiser Permanente, more than half of doctors affiliated with 14 San Diego hospitals took some payment, ranging from half of those at UC San Diego Health to 83.8 percent at Scripps Green Hospital. Of doctors affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, which has strict policies to restrict such payments, 27 percent took payments.”
• Public transit agency haiku war! (AV Club)
• Yesterday, I asked you to guess what a North County business called Gotta Go does. No, it’s doesn’t sell portable toilets or wheelchairs. And it’s not a travel agency, moving company or a funeral planner. The full name of the company is Gotta Go Bail Bonds.
• The entertainment site AV Club recently explored a Wikipedia list of defunct fast-food restaurant chains. Several from Southern California are mentioned, including “Pup ’N’ Taco, whose menu was an odd combination of hot dogs, tacos, and pastrami sandwiches,” and the Mexican joint Naugles.
About Naugles: “After researching and re-creating the original menu items and setting up a few pop-up locations to test the waters, in 2015 [a fan] and investors opened a test kitchen in Huntington Beach, California, which experienced such a large turnout that the owners had to shut down and regroup.” Now, it’s reportedly back open.
In the past, the restaurant’s motto, according to Wikipedia, was “Prepare food fresh. Serve customer fast. Keep place clean!” Hopefully the motto will end up where they sent the offensive character of Señor Naugles in 1987. Keep Naugles non-racist!
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.