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The Trump administration wants to allow oil drilling off the San Diego coast, but our reporter Ry Rivard finds that there’s a big obstacle in his way: The U.S. Navy.
“Offshore drilling could flummox training and operations and, in turn, endanger national security…,” Rivard reports in a new VOSD story. “There are two concerns. First, that oil exploration and drilling could force the military to change how, when and where it trains. Second, that a training exercise, particularly one using live fire, could go awry and cause an oil spill.”
So are local Navy brass speaking up to the commander in chief? Well, not exactly. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
One thing is clear: Federal officials think there’s a lot of oil in them thar seas, perhaps a billion gallons along the coast of our county and Orange County.
Border Report: In Mexicali, A Bid to Save Doomed Wall Murals
A new 2-mile border fence is now under construction out around Calexico, despite legal challenges, and an existing stretch of fence in Mexicali with many murals on the US side is slated for demolition. For this week’s VOSD Border Report, our Maya Srikrishnan went out there to check on the efforts to preserve some of the art.
“When we go present at universities, people always ask, ‘What’s it like to paint the border fence?’” one artist said. “I always tell them to come and try it for themselves. It’s something I can’t explain, but when you’re there on the ladder, you feel it.”
Also in the Border Report: Photos of several murals by our Adriana Heldiz, details about a major court ruling on how immigrants are detained, a lawsuit over pollution at the border, an ambulance shortage in Tijuana and more.
No Prosecution for Those Arrested for Feeding Homeless
A dozen people were arrested at an El Cajon park in January and charged with illegally feeding people in public. Now comes news that they won’t be prosecuted.
The city of El Cajon released a peculiar statement that essentially said there’s no need to enforce the law because there’s no need for the law anymore. City officials targeted certain kinds of outdoor feeding and linked their ban to sanitary concerns due to the hepatitis A epidemic, which has now ended. (KPBS)
Politics Roundup: Kersey Out, DeMaio In?
City Councilman Mark Kersey, a Republican, announced yesterday that he won’t make a bid for a state Senate seat due to family medical issues “that will prevent me from commuting to and from Sacramento on a regular basis.”
He was planning to run for the 38th state Senate seat, which covers much of East County and parts of San Diego and North County. The current state senator is Joel Anderson, a Republican. The other main candidates, according to Times of S.D., are former Assemblyman Brain Jones and Jeff Griffith, a Democrat and board member of the Palomar hospital district, which runs two North County hospitals.
• Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost bids for Congress and mayor, has picked up nomination papers and paid a filing fee needed to run against embattled East County Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, the conservative blog sdrostra.com reports. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells is already in the race.
DeMaio’s previous congressional bid was in a different congressional district.
At sdrostra.com, a writer named Steve Gramm notes DeMaio’s strengths: his “very deserved reputation as a libertarian-leaning fiscal hawk, a public pension reformer, and the organizer of a statewide ballot measure to repeal the gas tax would all play significantly well in the conservative East and North County (including back-country) areas making up the district.”
However, he notes that DeMaio is openly gay, and “we’re talking about a geographic area that may be one of the most socially-conservative of any in California… many 50th District voters are registered as independents because they simply don’t see the Republican Party as being conservative enough.” Gramm thinks DeMaio should stick to his radio talk show.
State Senator Joel Anderson weighs in to us: “It would be inappropriate for KOGO to continue Carl’s radio show without offering equal time to the other candidates.” DeMaio responded: “I am not a candidate at this time and have until Friday to decide whether to submit my papers.”
More Politics News: Who’s the Richest of Them All?
• Two of the top three richest California members of Congress are from right here: Reps. Darrell Issa ($283 million) and Scott Peters ($32 million). In the middle is Senator Dianne Feinstein ($59 million).
Hunter is in the hole at a negative $60,000, while Reps. Juan Vargas and Susan Davis are millionaires at $1.7 million and $1.2 million, respectively. (L.A. Times)
Peters, by the way, made an error making it wrongly appear that he lost $50 million in wealth.
• Jack McGrory, former San Diego city manager and current high-profile foe of the SoccerCity project, is joining the California State University Board of Trustees.
Judge Protects Historic California Theatre
A judge has ruled against the city’s plans to allow the demolishing of the California Theatre, downtown’s Spanish Colonial Revival-style “movie palace” that was once touted as “the cathedral of the motion picture” and “an enduring contribution to the artistic beauty of the entire Southland.” (KGTV)
The City Council had approved plans to replace the theater with a 40-story skyscraper.
In 2013, KPBS explored the California Theatre’s sad, decrepit condition.
An architect who examined it several years ago found that “it was full of trash and mildew. The roof has numerous holes so rainwater had caused a lot of damage,” There were dead rodents and pigeons, and “there was more than a foot of standing water in the basement.”
Council Queries Commission Over Housing Decision
City Council members are asking questions after a KPBS investigation explored the San Diego Housing Commission’s refusal to take part in a national program that aims to boost racial diversity in neighborhoods by giving residents vouchers to live in pricier parts of town.
The commission’s CEO said the decision made sense financially, but Councilman David Alvarez is skeptical.
Horse Rescue Organization Faces Questions
“HiCaliber Horse Rescue, a Valley Center nonprofit embroiled in allegations of fraud and animal abuse, can no longer raise or spend money until it submits proper financial disclosures to the state,” inewsource reports. The organization’s founder says she made an “honest mistake” that will be fixed.
inewsource reports that HiCaliber’s “practices provoke extreme reactions – loyal support to outrage – among horse enthusiasts around the world.” Critics question its practice of purchasing horses headed for slaughter and then euthanizing them in some cases because of what it says are physical or behavioral problems. Now, “local and state government agencies are investigating allegations of fraud, animal abuse and unlicensed veterinary practices at HiCaliber.”
Quick News Hits: Taco Tirade
• In a stunning twist to the saga of Broadcom’s hostile takeover bid for San Diego-based Qualcomm, federal regulators say a crucial Qualcomm shareholder meeting must be delayed for a month during a national security review. Several local congressmen have expressed concern about the possible takeover. (U-T)
• inewsource reports: “San Diego city officials kept doing business with a janitorial company even after a 2016 audit found the contractor overbilled the city almost $33,000 and violated the city’s living wage law and California’s labor code.”
• Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker was in town to tell local officials how her city reduced homelessness by 60 percent in three years. (10News)
• Residents of the inland North County community of Harmony Grove are sounding the alarm about a planned housing development that they say could limit their ability to evacuate during a wildfire. (NBC 7)
• Lalo Alvarez, the syndicated cartoonist and San Diego State alum, describes his work on the Oscar-winning animated film “Coco.” He helped its makers keep it genuinely Mexican. (U-T)
• The headline on this clip says it all: “Exotic Bird Lands On News Anchor’s Head During Live Broadcast.” Well, that’s not true. It doesn’t also say “Male Co-Anchor Laughs Hysterically.” (News 8)
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.