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I am the only person I know who, unironically and unabashedly, loves Presidents Day.

And not because it’s a free day off, but because I love presidents. It’s always been my thing.

In the first grade, I became so obsessed with presidents that I memorized each one, his full name, and as many facts as I could about their tenures. The teachers caught wind of this, and soon paraded me to the front of several classrooms to recite them all, as the other kids sighed with boredom.

Since then, I’ve dragged friends and family to presidential libraries, amassed a trove of old campaign buttons and somehow even acquired presidential dish towels and several pairs of Jackie-O sunglasses. My best friend threw me a presidential-themed bridal shower, where we played presidential charades. (My friend Annie won by, in drawing President George W. Bush, throwing a shoe at herself.)

For just as long as I’ve been obsessed with presidents, I’ve known I would be a journalist. The two have always gone hand in hand. Presidents sit at the top of our system of democracy, a system that journalists get to explore and explain to the world.

So it’s about in keeping with how our current president’s tenure has gone that, as Presidents Day weekend rolls around, President Donald Trump declared that journalists are not, in fact, a key piece of this system, but the enemy of it.

It’s certainly not a surprise, but it still feels like a cruel kick to the gut.

I’ve seen lots of journalists in the aftermath of Trump’s now-deleted tweet share a quote from President Thomas Jefferson about the media, which he hated, yet nevertheless admitted was crucial: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Trump’s menacing, downright un-American quote has made me think about a different president who was wary of the media. President John F. Kennedy was constantly frustrated by reporters following his family, particularly his young children, around.

In 1961, Kennedy spoke to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, and implored the journalists in the room to use caution and consideration in publishing sensitive materials as the United States fought Communism around the globe. It was a speech by someone who made it clear that he didn’t trust the media, that he found it too impulsive and too likely to choose transparency over security.

But even Kennedy ultimately admitted that the country needed journalists desperately. Here’s how he finished his speech:

And so it is to the printing press—to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news—that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

What VOSD Learned This Week

San Diego has an inferiority complex, and nowhere is that clearer than among the arts community. Kinsee Morlan wrote a great essay about local artists’ endless hand-wringing about how bad they have it here.

One of the most frequent complaints from artists is that there’s no affordable place for them to live and work. That was supposed to be part of the vision for the so-called IDEA District, but it’s not really panning out.

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After our big story revealing SANDAG knowingly misled voters in November, the agency has been trying to explain itself to politicians and the media.

SANDAG is claiming it did not know the forecasting error it discovered in 2015 would ultimately lead to voters being offered a false promise via Measure A. But the agency’s own staffers made clear the two went hand in hand.

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Many school districts, including San Diego Unified, are doing everything they can to assure families that schools are safe and that children and families won’t be deported for showing up. But there are limits to how much protection schools can really offer.

It’s not just schools that might be offering a false sense of security. On the podcast, Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts talk about the staggering number of deportations that happen even in places that call themselves sanctuary cities.

The fear of deportations under President Donald Trump highlights a big disconnect between the administration and folks who actually live near the border, many of whom like spending time in – or even living in – Mexico. Maya Srikrishnan reports that as housing remains unaffordable in San Diego, many seniors are turning to Baja for assisted living and nursing home care.

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Police, except in very limited circumstances, are not supposed to collect DNA from juveniles. San Diego Police officers do it anyway, thanks to a loophole. That’s now the subject of a lawsuit, Kelly Davis revealed this week.

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Those watchdog groups that are supposed to make sure bond money is spent efficiently are basically useless, a report found. Many of the issues highlighted in the report have reared their heads in San Diego.

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We’ve driven home many times how wildly unaffordable preschool and other child care is for most families. Two new state bills both try to solve the problem – I vetted the competing plans.

What I’m Reading

There is a very high bar these days as to what counts as crazy, insane, totally bananas news. I am here to tell you that this story about a lady being tricked into assassinating Kim Jong-un’s half-brother because she thought she was on a TV prank show clears that bar. (Guardian)

Sarah Kliff is the best health care reporter in the game, and her latest explores Obamacare’s rule forbidding lifetime caps on health care coverage through the life of one sick little boy. (Vox)

This piece is about “The Bachelor” franchise – but hear me out, it actually does an excellent job of explaining the kind of subtle structural racism that impacts everything from TV shows to boardrooms. (NPR)

What the New York Times is doing to claw its way into the future. (Wired)

Women be shopping running for office. (Marie Claire)

Mediocre albums by white artists beating outstanding albums from black artists at the Grammys is “a pattern too blatant, too in your face to ignore.” (New York)

Line of the Week

“I am willing to lose this team if public money is the issue” – Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, speaking as clearly and forcefully about the Raiders as we all wish San Diego’s leaders had done with the Chargers.

Sara Libby

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

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