Like any journalist who works for a place whose mission is to educate and equip voters with the tools to make educated decisions, I always find it maddening how little people pay attention to local campaigns.
The June primaries are important! People should be digging in now, when there’s still time to formulate opinions on each candidate and cause, given that there are several people in each important race. Will Ferrell, as Ron Burgandy, and comedian Billy Eichner are even headed to Oceanside to persuade people to pay attention to the congressional race in their backyard.
But so far the local candidates for Congress themselves aren’t making a great case for paying attention to these races.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, a not-insignificant part of primary campaign season is just ridiculousness. I’m not talking about people pushing policies you happen to disagree with. I’m talking about stuff that’s downright dumb.
Josh Butner, who’s seeking to oust Rep. Duncan Hunter, told my colleagues Scott and Andy that military service should be a requirement for political candidates. He clarified to the U-T that he believed service like the Peace Corps would count as well, but it’s still setting an unreasonable (and illegal) bar for who can participate in politics.
Republican Diane Harkey, who’s running in the 49th District, suggested members of Congress should have a curfew and take part in a buddy system in order to avoid dangerous situations and bad behavior.
Also in the 49th, the candidates have started clutching their pearls over a report that one of the candidates, Sara Jacobs, embellished points on her resume. Can you imagine? A political candidate inflating a resume? Fetch me my fainting couch!
Paul Kerr, another candidate in the race, is now calling on TV stations to pull down ads from a Super PAC because of the report. 🙄🙄🙄
So, while I’ll plead with everyone to start studying up on election issues now — the primary is closer than you think! — I have to do it with the caveat that there’s a lot of silliness out there.
If candidates start talking about Nathan Fletcher’s college grades, I’m out.
What VOSD Learned This Week
When I was on maternity leave and watched a lot of TV news for the first time ever, I was frankly shocked by how intensely everyone cared about the city botching water bills.
That makes it all the more surprising that few people seem to know or care much about the upcoming decision to potentially transform the way city customers receive power.
This week, Ry Rivard had two great stories peeling back the curtain on why it might be hard to reach lofty green energy goals no matter which direction the city goes. Deals made by community choice aggregators, the kind of system the city might switch to, don’t always do much to fight climate change.
But the current power monopoly, SDG&E, might soon have more reason than ever to drag its feet switching over to clean power sources.
Ry joined the podcast this week to break down the stories and catch us up on where the fight over CCAs is headed.
In more than one case, Border Patrol has faced major public blowback after videos showed them arresting someone in front of the person’s families – in one case actually ripping apart a mother and her children. It responded to the outcry by saying the detainees were wanted for human smuggling.
But those people were never actually charged with smuggling – in fact, their cases weren’t even turned over to prosecutors to consider.
About 5 percent of the region’s homes aren’t available as housing because they’re second homes or vacation homes.
(Unsurprisingly, people on all sides of the vacation rental issue have taken this story as evidence that they were right all along. One thing that’s important to remember is that this report didn’t distinguish between second homes used by people who live elsewhere part of the year, and homes used as vacation rentals year-round.)
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber gave me some fiery quotes when I spoke with her about her bill that would raise the bar on when police officers can legally kill. Scott and Andy spoke with Marco Gonzalez about his plan for yet another Mission Valley ballot measure.
Despite expanding its legal office in order to rein in costs, the amount San Diego Unified spends on outside lawyers keeps climbing. That’s just one beef that teachers brought up at a town hall in which they questioned the district’s spending decisions.
The district also had a harsh spotlight cast on it this week when two critics of discipline policies at Lincoln High got an audience with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
What I’m Reading
- A teenager desperate to leave a violent gang decided to cooperate with police. In turn, they used his statements against him and moved to deport him to a country where he’d face certain death. This investigation is amazing on its own, but the impact after it was published – resources poured in to help the boy – is a wonderful testament to the power of accountability journalism.
- The New York Times has pulled off a stunner: It acquired troves of ISIS documents that detail how the terrorist group ran a functioning government – in some ways, one that was more efficient than the one it usurped.
- A dispatch from the Oklahoma teachers strike. (The Nation)
- This is a good spoof on all the dockless bike freakouts. (Slate)
- Revisiting “The Breakfast Club” and “Jersey Shore.” (New Yorker, New York)
- Those viral photos of politicians and corporate leaders handling their kids at work? They’re actually not helpful to working parents. (Macleans)
Line of the Week
“To help him communicate, some people who recently have met with him say that he has an iPad loaded with snippets of his voice, connected to buttons for words or phrases including ‘yes,’ ‘no’ and ‘f—you.’” – an amazing detail in a story on media mogul Sumner Redstone