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In many ways, the discussion around the SANDAG scandal is working exactly the way it’s supposed to.

After VOSD revealed at least three instances of SANDAG officials knowingly misleading voters on critical issues involving many billions of dollars, local officials began calling for change and even crafting potential solutions.

Now, many stakeholders are debating those solutions and whether they’re right for San Diego. Again, this is precisely how the process is supposed to play out.

But things began to go off the rails a bit this week. Politicians opposed to AB 805, a state bill proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, seem to have agreed on a line of argument against the bill that is laughable in its disingenuousness.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating one way or the other for AB 805. It would make substantial changes to the way the SANDAG board runs and deserves plenty of scrutiny and serious, substantial discussion about whether it would actually solve the problems VOSD’s reporting has identified.

That’s the thing, the new argument against 805 is neither serious or substantial. It amounts to, basically: State government bad!!

Here’s Haney Hong and Cameron Gyorffy in a VOSD op-ed this week, arguing against the bill:

Before we rush to change local decision-making processes through new legislation at the state level, we need to hold our elected leaders accountable to do the work we elected them to do: communicate effectively with taxpayers, collaborate at the SANDAG table and lead.

Without this course correction, no amount of legislation from Sacramento would prevent issues similar to those that surfaced during the campaign for Measure A from reoccurring at SANDAG.

Steve Vaus and Carrie Downey were even less subtle with their disdain for Sacramento – it’s a dirty word, didn’t you know? – in a Union-Tribune op-ed:

This should scare everyone — the same politicians in Sacramento responsible for California’s crumbling roads and fraying infrastructure want to “fix” our county’s regional transportation agency, the San Diego Association of Governments.

Sacramento has pointed a bulldozer named Assembly Bill 805 at SANDAG.

No, the fact that a solution originates in Sacramento should not, in fact, scare anyone. That’s kind of why Sacramento exists. Whether a problem is solved in Lemon Grove or San Diego or Sacramento in Washington D.C. should not, and does not, matter.

Gonzalez Fletcher was elected by community members in San Diego County. To suggest a “Sacramento” solution is far disconnected from the people here either means you literally do not understand the basics of how government works – which, I gotta say, is a bad look for a politician or advocate – or you’re lying.

By all means, debate the hell out of AB 805. Raise concerns about its flaws, poke holes in its premise, do all the things we should do when deciding on legislation that impacts our community. But lying, scaring and making bogeyman out of people with the same job as you is not taking this very real problem seriously.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Interim DA Summer Stephan has said that when it comes to the biggest case of her career, the failed prosecution for the murder of Stephanie Crowe, she was late to the case and major decisions were made before she came on board. In an exhaustive report, Ashly McGlone found that Stephan was far from the bystander she’s suggested.

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Once again, the city of San Diego is facing a class action that could force major changes to its policies dealing with homeless residents.

In the meantime, chaos and confusion reigns on the streets downtown, as police try to balance enforcement and compassion and the homeless lack guidance on where they can legally go.

With no decisive action coming from the mayor, two businessmen and a City Council member have decided to move forward with their own plans.

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We debuted a new podcast this week, “I Made it in San Diego,” which tells the stories of local entrepreneurs who built companies here and what it took to achieve. The kickoff episode is about the couple behind Deering Banjo Company, which started as a small family endeavor and has now made more banjos than any other instrument-maker in existence.

The owners of a cross-border business, Turista Libre, joined the main VOSD podcast this week to break down the scary Uber vs. taxis clashes going doing in Tijuana.

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Lying or misleading voters on the ballot, as SANDAG has done in multiple instances, is generally legal, it turns out.

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This could be a parody made up by smug East Coasters about life in California, except it’s real: Flip-flops have become a point of contention in union workers’ negotiations with San Diego County.

What I’m Reading

• Look, I love USC and stories that make it look bad make me sad. Then again, I’m a journalist and good stories are good stories. This investigation revealing USC’s high-profile former med school dean lived a double life filled with prostitutes, meth and heroin is a great story. (L.A. Times)

• Lots of well-off men leading secret lives stories this week. In this fascinating piece, a woman tries to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of her ex-husband, a high-powered, mild-mannered Silicon Valley lawyer who became addicted to drugs. (New York Times)

• Another crazy one: On top of being an R&B star and accused rapist, R. Kelly is also, apparently, holding young girls against their will. (Buzzfeed)

• In an analysis following the R. Kelly story, this writer makes a persuasive case that black women are the least likely to be thought of as deserving of respect and justice. (The Undefeated)

• Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that he wants to ramp up civil asset forfeiture will likely mean more racial profiling of black and brown Americans. (Democracy)

• I won’t lie, a lot of media criticism makes me get knee-jerk defensive. But this Brooklyn artist whose work exposes racial stereotypes in the New York Times makes some great points. (Village Voice)

Line of the Week

” As with many celebrities, it can be hard to separate the performance from the actual amphibian.” — From a wonderful meditation on our national treasure, Kermit the Frog.

Sara Libby

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

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