The Morning Report
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I often tease reporters when they express shock that someone is reluctant to talk for a story, or when an agency drags its feet providing records or other information. People don’t tend to make reporters’ jobs easy.
And yet this week was a bit over the top even considering the typical wariness of the media.
- VOSD’s Jesse Marx followed up on reports from The Coast News and Del Mar Times documenting the San Dieguito High School District’s aversion to transparency and public input. The district’s board president suggested the real problem is … the public:
“[Beth] Hergescheimer blamed the public dialogue on individuals who she said don’t understand, or disregard, the protocol of board meetings. There are designated moments throughout board meetings when the podium is open to commentary, and beyond that, she said, the public is there to observe.
‘If the public desires true dialogue with administration,’ she said, ‘that is best accomplished by communicating directly with staff outside of the board meeting setting — and I know staff spends many hours each week doing just that.’”
- Ry Rivard’s joint investigation with NBC 7 revealed the water department misled the public about issues with water meters, possibly hid documents for months from reporters and auditors and that its director instructed staffers to be “vague” with oversight officials, lest those officials, you know, provide oversight.
- By far the most disturbing behavior from a local official toward the media has come from El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho. Last week, the U-T documented how he attempted to assault a reporter — a story that included the shocking revelation that El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells carries a gun for self-protection following tensions with Kalasho. In a video on his personal website, Kalasho calls people who believed the U-T story “slaves to the editor” and says of the East County reporter with whom he had a run-in that he wanted to “lay him out.”
A public official openly discussing his desire to assault a reporter would be chilling in any scenario. But we’re only a few weeks removed from an incident in which reporters were brutally gunned down inside a newsroom as they went about doing their jobs. In those reporters’ honor, the Senate this week passed a resolution honoring “media and journalism as core institutions of the democracy of the United States.”
What VOSD Learned This Week
Hundreds if not thousands of residents saw massive water bill spikes in the last year – far more than the city initially acknowledged. Though we don’t know the cause or causes of the spikes, we do know there’s reason for concern over the city’s new smart meters – and over the department’s transparency.
Ry Rivard, who investigated the department alongside NBC 7, also came on this week’s podcast to talk about what they found.
Andrew Keatts spent some time in City Council District 4 to understand Council President Myrtle Cole’s shocking primary loss. Many residents there think Cole represents City Hall and other institutions that have fed a steady stream of promises to the district and failed to deliver.
The zero tolerance approach to prosecuting border-crossers is still causing chaos in San Diego’s federal court. This week, Maya Srikrishnan documented two problems that have emerged: The court can’t handle the many non-Spanish speakers facing charges, leading to all kinds of problems. And the crush of cases has meant prosecutors have accidentally brought juveniles into adult criminal court to face charges.
The City Council will be taking yet another stab at regulating short-term vacation rentals on Monday. Lisa Halverstadt zeroed in on the issue likeliest to blow up the whole debate.
In honor of Pride, Randy Dotinga revisited a fascinating case that united San Diego’s fledgling gay community.
When Ashly McGlone first wrote about a former Chula Vista teacher who officials found harassed and abused three girls, he denied their accusations and said the girls were “troubled.” Now, several former students and a former assistant to the teacher have come forward to say his inappropriate behavior was not isolated.
What I’m Reading
- There are far fewer rags-to-riches stories among today’s billionaires. (Bloomberg)
- This is a devastating story about sexual harassment, and the sad fate of a whistleblower at a major Wall Street bank. (Highline)
- I am sooooooooo pumped to read my friend Annie Lowrey’s new book – here’s a bite-sized version of her argument that we should just give people money. (New York Times)
- If you need a reminder why local newspapers are so vital, read this lovely and heartbreaking account of what one of the heroes of the Wine Country fires has grappled with in the aftermath of the disaster. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Line of the Week
“‘He is pretty consistently anti-environment on every front,’ Center for Biological Diversity senior counsel Bill Snape, a law professor at American University, told BuzzFeed News. ‘I call him Lord Voldemort,’ said Professor Snape.” – Buzzfeed News subtly documents how life imitates art.