Regional planners have imagined for years turning the mess of travelers at the San Ysidro border into something coherent and simple.
One big venture in that broader effort isn’t going so well.
In 2003, the Metropolitan Transit System spent $1.3 million to seize property at the border to make a home for the long-distance private bus companies that take border-crossers to points north and east.
In 2012, it entered into a deal with a private company to build a bus terminal and start bringing in $140,000 a year in revenue for the agency.
Five years later, MTS hasn’t seen a dime from the deal. The terminal cost twice as much as initially projected, and some community members aren’t pleased with how the station turned out.
Plus, MTS has gotten into a contentious and costly legal dispute with a neighboring property owner. That case could go to trial before the end of the year. A court ruling last week went against MTS, introducing the possibility that after all this, it could lose in court, too.
Challengers Emerge in D6 as Cate Faces Scandal
Councilman Chris Cate is facing the prospect of legal problems, with the attorney general’s office investigating his decision to leak a confidential city attorney memo.
That’s now translated into clear political problems for Cate: Two Democrats announced at the county Democratic Party’s annual convention this weekend that they’ll challenge him for his seat representing Council District 6, which covers the central part of the city, including Clairemont and Kearny Mesa.
One is Fayaz Nawabi, president of the Muslim Democratic Club of San Diego. The other is Tommy Hough, president of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action and a former radio host at 91x. Local attorney Will Moore, who is active in the party, broke the news of both decisions on Twitter.
Both are first-time candidates. Cate is in the midst of a scandal, but he’ll still have all the normal incumbency advantages, plus a major head start with fundraising.
Opinion: Homeless Are Constantly Being Asked to Move … But to Where?
Ginger Stamper, a homeless woman who lives downtown, begins her new VOSD commentary with an unlikely expression of relief: It’s raining as she writes, and she’s grateful.
How come? “I’m grateful because when it rains here in San Diego, which it so rarely does, we homeless people get to leave our tents up,” she writes. “It may not seem like such a big deal to those of you who live indoors. But to us homeless folks, it’s a day off and a chance to rest for once.”
The rest of the time, she writes, the homeless are continually told to “move along.” Not just by cops, but by a downtown group’s “safety ambassadors,” which Stamper renames the “rabid relocaters.”
Stamper says things have gotten worse on the rousting front. She warns that “we have lost the right to rest in public areas, and now we’re being herded into homeless camps, then tents — then what?”
At State Capitol, a Focus on Sexual Misconduct
Spurred by the accusations against Hollywood superpower Harvey Weinstein, women are speaking out about the culture of sexual harassment and assault in the halls of power in Sacramento. One catalyst was an open letter signed last week by more than 140 women in state politics that included this statement: “Each of us has endured, or witnessed or worked with women who have experienced some form of dehumanizing behavior by men with power in our workplaces.”
CALMatters checks into the state of state politics when it comes to harassment and abuse. Here’s a comment from a political staffer who remembers being assaulted by an aide in a stairwell at the age of 25, 15 years ago: “It was just kind of known: You don’t want to be one of those girls who say these things happen. The girls who make these accusations don’t get ahead. I was young and ambitious and I wanted to be taken seriously.”
An assemblywoman from Riverside County plans to reintroduce state legislature to protect its employees under the same whistleblower rules that govern state government employees. Lawmakers have killed her bill before.
Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who represents portions of Easy County, wrote in a statement on Twitter over the weekend that he’d vote to expel members found guilty of harassing behavior.
• In an editorial, the L.A. Times praises the male legislative leaders who said the right things, but adds that “the proof of the leaders’ commitment will be the measures they take to empower their female colleagues in the Legislature, such as ensuring that women have equal opportunities to chair committees and calling out and penalizing harassment when it occurs.”
More Weirdness Uncovered in San Ysidro Schools
The tiny San Ysidro school district, which runs elementary schools in the San Diego neighborhood, is poor. Its former superintendent, however, is not. The district “paid Superintendent Julio Fonseca, who resigned last month, at least $1 million in total compensation for 26 months of work,” reports inewsource. (That includes health benefits, mileage and other benefits, not just salary.)
“I think he (Fonseca) abused his power. He took the board as fools,” a school board member said.
The current interim schools chief defends Fonseca’s salary and his own ($223,000 a year).
Last week, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reported that the district has spent $480,000 trying to recover $291,000 from another former superintendent.
Quick News Hits: Accidentally on Purpose?
• About 1,500 people, mostly military veterans, may have gotten ineffective flu shots from the local VA because the vaccine wasn’t properly stored. They’ll need to get new shots. (NBC 7)
• As the hepatitis A outbreak continues, a homeless shelter in Oceanside is opening a month early.
• The last pair of border wall prototypes are being erected at the U.S.-Mexico border. There are eight total. “The models, which cost the government up to $500,000 each, were spaced 30 feet apart. Slopes, thickness and curves vary. One has two shades of blue with white trim. The others are gray, tan or brown — in sync with the desert,” the AP reports. “Bidding guidelines call for the prototypes to stand between 18 and 30 feet high and be able to withstand at least an hour of punishment from a sledgehammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery-operated tools.”
Wonder how they’ll be testing that.
• In its “Daily 360″ feature, the New York Times uses 360-degree video to profile La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls festival.
VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan has more details on the festival here.
• A harbor crime roundup in the Reader includes this tidbit about a shot-fired report in the Cabrillo Marina: “An investigation located the subject aboard his vessel and determined that he accidentally discharged his weapon. The fired bullet went through his television, hull and into the neighboring vessel. No one was injured.”
Accidental discharge? Hmm. My bet: He was watching the news when he got upset. We’ve all been there.
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Tommy Hough as a radio host at 91x. He is a former host.
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.