In May, Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered – shot 12 times in broad daylight.
Everard Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, is a friend and colleague of Valdez. He’s been thinking a lot about some of the lessons we can draw from the writer’s work, which often chronicled the ways in which brutal violence in Mexico has impacted the lives of ordinary people living there.
Voice of San Diego’s Mario Koran’s sat down with Meade for a wide-ranging interview that digs into those lessons and describes how cartel violence has changed in recent decades and who’s being impacted most by the ongoing drug war.
Meade tells Koran that Valdez showed everyone how important it is to continue to tell the stories of the peoples’ lives who are entangled with drug cartels – both from the perspective of victims and perpetrators.
“I told you why so many journalists don’t do this work, and why it’s challenging,” Meade says. “Javier showed us ways that you can.”
SANDAG’s ‘Financial Shenanigans’
In 1994, Orange County officials made a shady financial bet that counted on interest rates remaining low. But interest rates rose and the financial fraud ended up landing the county treasurer in jail and ultimately cost taxpayers $1.6 billion with interest.
In a new commentary for CALmatters, Dan Walters compares that financial debacle with a deal SANDAG made. Voice of San Diego’s Andrew Keatts and Ashly McGlone recently revealed the problems with a financial investment the regional transportation agency made that counted on interest rates going up (they haven’t).
“One would think that the Orange County debacle would have been a powerful warning to avoid gambling with public funds,” Walters writes. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t, as the SANDAG disaster shows. Nor is SANDAG the only example.”
Lifting the Curtain on Civic San Diego
Whistleblowers will shed light on the inner-workings of a city organization that plays a big role in how the city is growing, the Union-Tribune reports.
Civic San Diego, the city’s nonprofit entity that oversees development in downtown and other parts of San Diego, is facing a lawsuit from four current and former employees who allege shady, backroom deals, conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency when it comes to how development projects are streamlined.
The city has said there’s nothing wrong with how Civic San Diego does business and sought to block depositions of the whistleblowers, but a judge ruled last month that the depositions can go forward. The judge also declined a request from Civic San Diego to limit questions about how the corporation handles planning and permitting decisions.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case called the ruling a major victory that will help shed some light on the internal operations of Civic San Diego.
Dumanis Checks Herself, Sorta
A few years ago, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis used an obscure criminal statute, Penal Code section 182.5, to prosecute a group of 15 San Diego men. The charges were connected to a series of shootings by Lincoln Park gang members in 2013, but the law allowed Dumanis to charge the men with conspiracy for belonging to the same gang as the shooters, a guilt-by-association-type crime that could have landed them in prison for life despite no solid connections to the actual shootings.
Two judges dismissed the charges, and Dumanis got a lot of heat from the community for using the controversial law. Despite the backlash, Dumanis first persisted in her pursuit before finally capitulating and saying she wasn’t going to use the obscure law again.
The Union-Tribune’s Dana Littlefield sat down with Dumanis, who recently left her post to focus on a potential run for county supervisor, and asked her about the gang cases and what she learned as a result.
Dumanis insisted that some of the “information about the gang-conspiracy law spread by media outlets and members of the public was based on a ‘false narrative,’” but also said she’s been watching documentaries and trying to learn more about black history and white privilege.
“The history of African Americans has an impact on everything,” Dumanis told the U-T. “No matter how supportive white America is, unless you have walked in those shoes, you don’t understand it. And the only way to change that is to check yourself and your implicit biases or ask for people to check you when you’re doing it.”
Weekend News Roundup
• Lots of Republicans want Mayor Kevin Faulconer to run for governor, in part because having his name on the ballot would likely bolster GOP turnout in November 2018. (Union-Tribune)
• Two men are accused of running an immigration scam centered in El Cajon that conned more than 150 people out of about $6 million. (Union-Tribune)
• Forget about Qualcomm Stadium, says one local architecture student: Why not focus on rebuilding Balboa Stadium instead? (Union-Tribune)
• Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest soccer players to ever play. The UK’s Daily Mail reports that a woman gave birth to twins, acting as a surrogate for Ronaldo, in La Mesa, “a sleepy Californian desert town, close to San Diego, and 20 miles from the Mexican border.”
• Former CityBeat journalist, Dave Maass, pointed us to an intriguing panel July 22 at Comic-Con: