A San Diego police officer testified in court that he found a homeless man sleeping in a truck, a contention that led to the man’s conviction and fine for living in a vehicle. The problem: The officer was lying, and body camera footage proves it, our Sara Libby reports in a new story.
Two summers ago, Officer Colin Governski came upon Tony Diaz as he was leaving a public bathroom on Mission Bay. That’s not the story Goversnki later told in court: He said he saw Diaz sleeping in a truck and issued him a citation. Diaz was found guilty and fined.
Diaz’s attorney appealed the case, triggering a review by the city attorney’s office, which discovered body camera footage that contradicted the officer’s testimony but that wasn’t shown during Diaz’s court hearing.
The deputy city attorney who saw the footage filed a motion to toss Diaz’s conviction. But he never notified SDPD about the officer’s false testimony under oath. That only happened when Libby contacted the city attorney’s office during while seeking information for her story.
“I know the guy’s lying. And truly, my situation is, ‘What am I going to do?’” Diaz recalled.
An SDPD spokesman said the department is taking the issue seriously and conducting a review. Earlier this year, the city agreed to pay $15,000 as a result of a 2016 lawsuit in which Governski — the same police officer — was accused of harassing and illegally arresting a homeless Pacific Beach man.
More on That Explosive SANDAG Report
When that bombshell SANDAG investigation by an outside law firm dropped Monday night, VOSD’s Andrew Keatts zoomed in on portions of the report knocking officials for asking employees to delete and hide documents in order to avoid more scrutiny from Keatts’ ongoing investigation.
Now, KPBS’s Andrew Bowen has a good rundown of that and the other major findings in the report. Bowen also reports that Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who is pushing a bill to reform SANDAG’s governing structure, announced she plans to send the investigation to the state attorney general, and will request a state audit of the agency’s “misreporting of finances.”
Covered California Premiums: Up, Up … and Away
Health insurance premiums in California — those paid by self-employed people and others on the individual market without group insurance — are slated to rise by an average of 12.5 percent next year, the L.A. Times reports. There’s more bad news: 10 percent of policyholders will be dumped by Anthem Blue Cross, including all 4,340 of its individual-market customers in San Diego County.
An estimated 3 percent of the increased cost of the premiums are due to uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act and subsidies that the federal government pays to allow poorer people to buy the policies. While Blue Cross is going away in most of the state, some insurers will start offering coverage. It wasn’t immediately clear if San Diego County would benefit.
Border Wall Won’t Obey Environmental Law
“The Department of Homeland Security will be allowed to bypass environmental regulations to speed up the process of building a wall on the international border in the San Diego area,” City News Service reports. Other border projects will also ignore “a variety of environmental, natural resource and land management laws,” DHS said.
• Imperial Beach is taking on a big enemy: It plans to sue the feds over Mexican sewage spills. “We’re hoping to force the U.S. government to address this issue and spend the money needed to stop the flow of toxic waste and sewage into the Tijuana River and under the border fence,” Serge Dedina, the mayor of IB, told the U-T.
Culture Report: Mingei Is Ready for a Closer (and Cheaper) Look
When people think of Balboa Park museums, the Mingei International Museum may not come first (or second or third or fourth or fifth) to mind. Now, the folk art, craft and design institution is hoping to change that through a multimillion-dollar facelift and free admission to some parts of the museum.
This week’s VOSD Culture Report has the story. “It’s just going to feel like a different space when we’re done,” says an architect whose firm is working on the project.The revamp will take a while, however. Work isn’t scheduled to start until next year.
Also in the Culture Report: UCSD’s Stuart Collection expands, a Little Italy water break over the weekend flooded artist studios and one artist says insurance won’t cover the damage to her studio, the Casbah gets some love from Yelp, the Old Globe gets “frothy” with it and more.
Quick News Hits: When Life (Doesn’t) Give You Lemon Grove …
• There are rumblings that SeaWorld may want to sell itself. (U-T)
• Capital & Main reports that environmentalists are roasting SDG&E over its plans for a third natural gas pipeline, “saying not only is a new, three-foot-wide pipe not needed in the region, but that it runs counter to the state’s mission of embracing green energy.” SDG&E is concerned about protecting safety and having a reliable pipeline.
Ry Rivard reported last year that many of those wary of the new pipeline wonder if SDG&E has undisclosed motivations for wanting to build it.
• VOSD arts editor Kinsee Morlan is our staff’s Lemon Grove denizen and the wife of a third-generation Lemon Grover (Grovian? Grovester?). This week, she’s feeling a bit sour because a lemon festival is occurring down south in my hometown of Chula Vista instead of her fair city.
Look, every burg in this county has the right to be fruit-flavored. Chula Vista, after all, once had plenty of citrus groves and was known as the “Lemon Capital of the World.”
And really, if you already have a 1920s-era 3,000-pound “civic lemon,” like Lemon Grove does, who needs a festival? Every day is a lemon-fresh celebration!
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.