Plenty of things divide the two candidates who are running for the seat on the County Board of Supervisors that covers much of coastal North County. Dave Roberts is the Democratic incumbent and Kristin Gaspar is the Republican mayor of Encinitas. But they do share one thing. They’re not taking a position on a big issue before county voters: the fate of the sprawling Lilac Hills Ranch development near Valley Center.
“Whichever one wins the race to represent the coastal North County district could be forced to take votes related to the project once in office, so they’re following advice from the county’s lawyers not to take a position one way or the other,” our Maya Srikrishnan reports.
But they do both believe that the issue should never have been referred to voters in the first place.
Why does this matter, especially since the Valley Center project isn’t in the district that these two candidates want to represent?
“A number of similar projects are likewise seeking amendments to the general plan, and are expecting a vote in the coming years. They would add thousands of new homes to this mainly undeveloped area in the northeastern part of the county,” writes Maya Srikrishnan.
Roberts said he’s heard from constituents who have concerns about the development. The project also brings to the surface more general tensions about where to put housing and how difficult it should be to get big projects approved. Gaspar says she thinks the process could be more efficient; Roberts says he thinks there’s plenty of room for new development already in the county’s general plan.
Ward Resigns as County Superintendent
Randy Ward, superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education, will resign Nov. 15, Ashly McGlone reports.
Ward’s contract wasn’t set to run out until mid-2017, but he had been put on leave by the County Office of Ed board after a lawsuit was filed alleging Ward took thousands of dollars in illegal pay.
In a statement, the County Office of Ed board said that the agreement with Ward for him to step down “was not, nor was it intended to be, any kind of assertion that the allegations of the California Taxpayers Action Network lawsuit have any merit.”
Ward will get $35,000 in “transition expenses” as part of the deal.
Accusations Uncovered Against Issa Challenger
The Democratic candidate who’s running against North County’s Rep. Darrell Issa — and performed shockingly well in the June primary — “was accused of ‘stalking,’ harassing and threatening his ex-wife, who was granted two temporary restraining orders, according to court records on file in Orange County,” Politico reports.
In response, candidate Douglas Applegate (a retired Marine colonel) “said the charges in the court documents reflected issues, including child custody, that have long since been resolved with his ex-wife and mother of his two children, who is now remarried.”
In a statement, his ex-wife says she supports Applegate and will vote for him.
• A national Democratic campaign group is helping Applegate’s bid, a sign that Dems believe he has a chance. (U-T)
Politics Roundup: Sign Some, Veto Some
Gov. Brown has rejected local legislator Lorena Gonzalez’s high-profile “diaper tax” bill, which would have exempted diapers from sales tax, the L.A. Times reports. The governor also vetoed a bill to lift sales taxes on tampons. He said these and a handful of other vetoed bills amount to new spending because they’ll zap $300 million a year in revenue.
In a statement, Gonzalez said: “We knew from the beginning that making the case for addressing diaper need would be a long journey, and today’s disappointing setback just means we’ll be back to try again.
Gonzalez did get some good news: Congratulations in person from Secretary of Labor Tom Perez about her successful legislation to protect farmworkers.
The governor also vetoed a bill by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins to extend the COIN tax credit program, which funds community revitalization projects. He cited the same gripe about new spending that he gave for vetoing the tampon and diaper bills.
• The governor signed a bill that makes it illegal to breed killer whales in captivity, meaning SeaWorld won’t be able to go back on its plans to stop breeding orcas. (NBC 7)
• The New York Times takes a look at the state’s Prop. 51, a $9 billion school bond measure that’s gotten little attention amid more high-profile initiatives. “Those bankrolling the effort are mostly deep-pocketed construction groups that have a profit motive to see it pass,” the Times says. There are some surprising opponents, including Brown, who reached into his Olde Timey English thesaurus to decry the measure as a “blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl” by favoring rich school districts.
• With a $1 million contribution in September, the Chargers have now spent $4.2 million getting Measure C on the ballot and trying to get it approved. For more details, check out campaign donations via inewsource.
• Those 224-page state ballot booklets — maybe it’s time to upgrade them from booklets to “books”? — will cost around $15 million. (L.A. Times)
First to Ban Pot, Latest to Legalize It?
As voters consider legalizing the recreational use of pot, the L.A. Times tracks the long history of marijuana law in California. Turns out we were the first state to ban marijuana all the way back in 1913; the feds didn’t get around to doing that (with some exceptions) until 1937. Here’s a fun quote from a federal narcotics official: “most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”
Sorry gang, we aren’t going to run that claim through San Diego Fact Check.
Voters turned down legalization by a two-thirds margin in 1970 but they allowed medial pot in 1996. A recreational pot legalization measure failed in 2010, but this year’s effort looks likely to pass.
Culture Report: Murals Galore
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report leads off with news of more than a dozen new murals in the San Diego area, all created to boost environmental awareness. One high-visibility mural in North Park depicts two mermaids transforming into skeletons.
As our Kinsee Morlan notes, the mural artists aren’t paid (although they get help with travel and supplies), raising questions about whether artists should ever work for free.
Also in the Culture Report: an arts venue drought in East Village, a local high school poet gets some White House attention and Combat Arts San Diego helps a veteran create a mural in Normal Heights.
In other arts news, local arts enthusiast Susan Myrland notes that Horton Plaza murals are in poor shape, and Pinnacle at the Park, that giant building sticking out of downtown, is up for a People’s Choice Onion. “’Did you know that tower is finished? Yup, not under construction,’ always shocks and dismays friends and family,” tweets our Andrew Keatts. Maybe it’s time to rename it Debacle at the Park?
Quick News Hits: Hard-Boiled Normal Heights
• To settle accusations about deception, San Diego-based Bridgeport Education, the troubled private higher education company, will pay an $8 million fine and refund or forgive $24 million in student loans. (U-T)
• San Diego ranks 12th on a new list of the U.S. areas with the highest rate of same-sex male marriages; we don’t rank in the top areas for female same-sex marriages. (New York Times)
• “A man who was run over by a Balboa Park ranger last year and suffered life-threatening injuries got a $1 million settlement on Tuesday from the city of San Diego,” the U-T reports. The man was napping near the Sixth Avenue edge of the park when a ranger drove over him.
• “California is now home to the nation’s first ever large-scale program to help transgender people find jobs,” KPCC reports. The state is working with restaurants to find jobs for transgender people, whose unemployment rate is double that of others in the U.S.
• CityBeat profiles my very own Normal Heights neighborhood and notes that it starred in the TV teen detective series “Veronica Mars,” which was filmed here. An Adams Avenue storefront served as the site of Mars Investigations, and the car wash across the street made an appearance too.
Few people watched the show but it became a cult classic and managed to be resurrected in a movie. Now if I could just put the intrepid Veronica Mars on the case of figuring out where I put my reading glasses …
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past 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.