The Morning Report
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The board that oversees local law enforcement has been so dysfunctional that it’s now poised to throw out 22 probes of deaths of inmates or suspects without any investigation at all.
“It appears to be the first time that the board, created in 1990, has failed to issue findings in a death case,” our contributor Kelly Davis reports in a new story. “The board is set to make the final decision on whether to dismiss the cases on Nov. 14.”
According to a county spokeswoman, who’s speaking for the board, the cases are being dumped because so much time has passed that it’s too late to punish the officers involved. But several specialists in these types of investigations tell us that there’s still value to probes in terms of learning lessons to prevent future misconduct and deaths.
It’s not as if the county has a pristine record on this front. It’s facing at least six lawsuits involving jail deaths and has paid more than $6 million in settlements since March 2015.
Politics Roundup: Planning Via Ballot Box
• Growth is a hot topic in the U-T, which offers stories on the question of whether voters (and not politicians) should make decisions about future developments — builders, not surprisingly, really really really don’t think so — and lots of construction in University City that is driving some residents bananas.
• We’ve reported on the tens of millions of dollars that the county has socked away from a state tax on millionaires and now plans to spend on mental health. Now, the U-T takes its own look at the funding.
• The U-T digs into the complicated world of how computers track and (ideally, at least) help the homeless.
• As a headline in Politico puts it, Governor Brown is “the President of the Independent Republic of California.” Or, you might say, a shadow president with a completely opposite agenda.
Stairway Collapse in Barrio Logan Prompts Investigation
More than 20 children were hurt at a parkour gym in Barrio Logan called Vault PK. The news went national. Parkour is a type of obstacle course and military training program that’s become extremely popular among kids. During an open gym session, kids crowded onto a stairway to get pizza and it collapsed. The U-T reported that all the kids had been released from the hospital.
We just profiled the owner of the paintball facility right next door. She leased the entire building from MTS and subleased this part to Vault PK.
A Close Call on Suicide Magnet Bridge
For reasons that are unclear, the Coronado bridge is nearing a grim suicide milestone this year. As I reported for VOSD over the summer, 2018 was on pace to become the deadliest year in the bridge’s nearly 50-year history. The total suicide death toll is around 400, and the last 7 years have been especially deadly.
A quick-thinking man and wife prevented the number from growing even higher. NBC 7 has the story: “A San Diego couple was in the right place at the right time when they spotted a man walking along the Coronado Bay Bridge and immediately felt something was wrong.”
It was. Nobody is supposed to walk on the bridge. And this man was crying and on the ledge. “What they didn’t know until later was that the man is a U.S. military veteran, the father of a little girl and a hard worker,” the TV station reports. “He had been turned away from a downtown homeless shelter that night because he had worked too late and missed the time window to check into the facility.”
As the wife, Elizabeth Bruhin, writes, “he began asking us to look away as he attempted to go over the edge… For some divine reason, our words began to have impact. For a fleeting second something pierced through a dark and impending veil that seems impenetrable at times for so many. He heard us. He trusted. He reached out.”
The man eventually got into the couple’s car. The husband, Dr. Matthew Bruhin, is CEO of APEX Recovery, a drug and alcohol treatment center, which has taken the man in and set up a GoFundMe page for him.
You can read the couple’s story about the man and contribute here. Note the scorching words about the local mental health system.
• Caltrans is going to reveal designs of potential suicide barriers for the bridge.
• On the podcast, we recently interviewed Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey who has become a leading advocate for a barrier and talked about why.
Quick News Hits: ‘Air’-tistry Wanted
• NBC 7 has an update on a costly legal mess that’s engulfing the Jehovah’s Witnesses in a local case of alleged child sexual abuse: State appeal judges upheld $2 million in sanctions after the church “refused to produce internal files and documents in a lawsuit that alleges sexual misconduct by a former elder in the organization.”
• San Diego is among the 10 worst places to rent in the nation, even worse than San Francisco and San Jose, where rents are sky-high but at least higher salaries help people pay them. (sfgate.com)
• The local Air Pollution Control District is looking for “air-tistically” talented kids to design artwork that showcases “the importance of clean, breathable air and what the average person can do to help everyone breathe a little easier.” The art will show up in the agency’s calendar.
Ooo! I wanna play. Let’s see… Here’s hoping the “air-tists” will use their creativity to rid our “ART-mosphere” of dangerous “p-ART-icles.”
What do I win? Hey! That’s not a prize!
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.