The Morning Report
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For a place this sunny, San Diego sure does have a lot of delicate snowflakes that manage to stay in tact all year long.
I’m not talking about actual snow, I’m really talking about broflakes, or incredibly sensitive men who interpret anything that’s not overt praise as a direct, personal attack.
It’s especially frustrating when the broflakes are in elected public office, and scrutiny and accountability is precisely what they signed up for.
This week we heard from two especially sensitive broflakes in the form of County Supervisor Bill Horn, and school board Trustee Kevin Beiser.
First was Beiser, who reacted to a correction we made to our story about how San Diego Unified sends parents who can’t afford school bus fees to collections agencies. (For what it’s worth, the district didn’t provide the information we corrected until after the story published, despite being asked directly about it prior to publication, but hey, that’s neither here nor there.) Here’s Beiser’s reaction:
Beiser is correct that the district exempts students who qualify for free lunch from paying school bus fees, although we still found at least one parent who did not know he qualified and was sent to collections anyway. But plenty of families in San Diego don’t qualify for free lunch and still can’t afford the fees, or don’t even have access to bus routes that would take them to a higher-performing school outside their neighborhood. Still, we corrected the story once we’d collected the necessary information.
We’re still waiting for San Diego Unified to correct or remove this website it created for the sole purpose of discrediting our reporting, especially in light of the school board president himself admitting that the information in it is a lie.
Then there’s Horn.
Earlier this month Lisa Halverstadt wrote about the more than $100 million the county has in unspent mental health funds. Horn does not contest that what we published was true, but he’s mad nonetheless. Here’s what he said at a Board of Supervisors meeting:
“We don’t want to react to the press. I don’t like reacting to the press. Dianne, you know as well as I do since we’ve been sitting on this board, we get beat up for everything we do. They look at our wallet and say hey, you have a reserve so we want you to spend that and so they come up with an idea to spend it. So, I just…we’re always the target. We’re always gonna be the target. I hope whoever’s sitting in these seats in a couple years will realize that you don’t need to react to these people. We just need to do what we consider right and Alfredo (Aguirre), these guys have done a tremendous job. We allocate the money but they go ahead and do it … year in, year out we get reports and every time we get a report, some reporter who’s brand new and got a typewriter or computer, I guess, writes a story and decides to pick on us because guess what, we’re not in the red. And so, I mean, we become the target. I just don’t like us to um … I read the editorials sometimes, usually it’s after the fact, and they’re absolutely wrong so I would just say to staff, continue to do the right thing, continue the march. These people will go away sooner or later.”
Typewriters! We’re always the target! Toughen up, cupcake. You’ve only got a short amount of time left in your term, and you’ll have to soldier on despite journalists examining the money you spend (or don’t) and the actions you take as an elected official acting in the public interest.
I’m veering into meanness, I know, so I’ll just leave you with this. It’s not a personal attack on any one leader or group of leaders to examine how parents in a public school district are being served, or whether the county could be tapping into funds differently. It’s not a breakdown in the system for an agency to be confronted with hard questions, it’s precisely how the system is supposed to work. Any suggestions otherwise are deeply troubling.
What VOSD Learned This Week
The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board did something unheard of this week: It dismissed 22 in-custody death cases with no investigation, based on an interpretation of law that the experts Kelly Davis talked with overwhelmingly believe is wrong.
On the podcast this week, Bardis Vakili, a senior staff attorney with the local ACLU, talked about the case and what should be expected of a police watchdog group like CLERB.
A series of brutal emails highlights just how tense things have gotten between the county’s Democratic Party and one of the most politically influential local unions.
One prominent local Democrat, City Councilman David Alvarez, confirmed he wants to do a short stint on the community college board before he runs for county supervisor in 2020.
The city, meanwhile, is running into critics as it moves forward on a few projects. The City Council approved three contracts this week for tent shelters to house the homeless – but, as Lisa Halverstadt reported, none of the contracts were bid competitively, and until the last minute, none included any metrics or accountability. The Council also put an affordable housing project on hold over accusations of a conflict of interest.
You might’ve heard some rumblings about a certain wall that may go up at the border. A border wall, if you will. Just over from the wall, however, tons of development and infrastructure is planned for Otay Mesa and the border that could make the region more connected to Mexico than ever.
Speaking of the wall, though, there haven’t been many demonstrations at the spot where wall prototypes are being constructed, but Maya Srikrishnan found plenty of protests over the structure – at museums, installations and galleries across the county.
What I’m Reading
- An incredible piece of local reporting: In Indio and the Coachella Valley, prosecutors take residents to court for minor violations like overgrown weeds, then bill them tens of thousands of dollars for their own prosecution. (Desert Sun)
- The NFL is “teetering on an all-out, unprecedented civil war.” (ESPN)
- In Jacksonville, Florida, tickets for pedestrian violations like jaywalking are given overwhelmingly to poor, black residents. (Pro tip: Watch the accompanying video, which is really well done.) (ProPublica, Florida Times Union)
- Can a class of would-be progressive prosecutors, including San Diego’s Geneviéve Jones-Wright, deliver on their promises given the confines of the system? (The Nation)
- No one, including Omarosa, seems to know what she does at the White House. (Daily Beast)
Line of the Week
“I know all men are trash but I wasn’t aware that they were all dead, also.” – From a hilarious, and entirely reasonable reaction to Blake Shelton being named People magazine’s sexiest man alive.