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A dispute over a legal marijuana dispensary took a dark turn this week.
Federal authorities have arrested Salam Razuki, a prominent San Diego property owner and investor, and accused him of plotting with some of his associates to kill a business partner. The two men have been suing each other for control of several marijuana operations, including the Balboa Avenue Cooperative.
A criminal complaint alleges that Razuki and his associates sketched out plans “to put the turkey up to roast before Thanksgiving” by making him disappear in Mexico and paid a confidential FBI informant $1,000 with cash deposit, which came from another legal dispensary in San Diego.
The allegations of criminal conspiracy stunned members of local marijuana industry who’ve tried hard since the passage of Proposition 64 to shed the image of lawlessness. It’s likely to embolden their critics, a traveling band of prohibitionists who lobby city halls against the creation of new marijuana markets.
One trade representative told Jesse Marx that he feared the news would make the case for expanding the number of marijuana permits in San Diego harder.
In other pot news … KPBS reports that an established manufacturing and distribution company in San Diego is at risk of losing its permit because of a nearby church that, until recently, was unpermitted.
Terminal 1 and the Vocab Lesson We Didn’t Know We Needed
Regional leaders have been sparring for months over the Airport Authority’s plan to expand the San Diego International Airport’s Terminal 1, mostly because the plan doesn’t outline how to bring the trolley to the airport once and for all.
At a summit hosted by Mayor Kevin Faulconer Tuesday, those leaders agreed to make some changes to the expansion plan that are likely to delay the project, but could also make taking the trolley to the airport a reality, Andy Keatts reports.
There’s still a long way to go, as it’s not clear how the trolley could eventually come to the airport, or how to pay for it. But as a first step, the airport has pledged to revisit the Terminal 1 expansion’s environmental analysis to include transportation improvements off of airport property, including a hypothetical trolley plan.
Speaking of which, it turns out there’s a name for those long-running problems that haunt San Diego civic life with seemingly no solution in sight: the “San Diego special.”
In a new op-ed, Assemblyman Todd Gloria says he’s worried the airport’s Terminal 1 revamp will become one of them.
Gloria implores the various stakeholders to resolve their conflicts, and he makes one demand of his own.
“The first action that must be taken is to link the airport to the San Diego Trolley,” he writes. “It is incomprehensible that despite the Trolley’s Blue Line running along the eastern edge of the airport’s runway there is no easy connection between these two transportation assets. This situation isn’t just frustrating to users, it’s a civic failure that must be fixed.”
Revisiting Museums’ ‘No Photo’ Rules in the Age of Instagram
Low-light capable smartphones are changing the way the public interacts with art museums. Gone are the days of no-flash photography. Hello to the rise of people knocking over sculptures in pursuit of sweet selfies.
Some artists have responded by banning personal photography of their installations not for specific conservation reasons, but because they think it’s distracting and undermines their work.
In the Culture Report, Julia Evans Dixon writes that when the modern reflex to whip out a phone and document everything is interrupted, a certain element of psychology is at play. It can forces a user to pay more attention to the art, encourage a social buzz or protects the artist’s intent or content.
San Diego Free Press Is Shutting Down
The progressive blog, which launched in June 2012 to give local activists and writers a platform to experiment, is suspending operations. The last day of new postings will be Dec. 14, but the editorial board has left open the possibility of relaunching in the future.
In an email, Doug Porter, the site’s main political writer, cited burnout as the No. 1 reason for taking a break. The Free Press is volunteer-run and that “tends to wear you down,” he said. “It was the one big weakness in our let’s-not-monetize-it scheme of doing things.”
Free Press writers have stuck to their progressive principles over the years. They were among the first to call for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation — to the consternation of other commentators on the left. But they’re not naïve to the political realities of the world.
“I know we made some people unhappy by not being tougher on some of the more traditional Democratic candidates,” Porter told the OB Rag, the Free Press’ sister site, last weekend. “It was our call that unusual times call for unusual flexibility.”
Migrants Encounter Governments and Militias
- A federal judge in California issued a nationwide restraining order barring enforcement of the Trump administration’s asylum ban on immigrants who cross the border at places other than official points of entry. President Donald Trump issued his order in response to caravans of thousands of migrants headed from Central America to the U.S. border.
- Tijuana authorities this week announced that they’d arrested 34 of those migrants for minor offenses and turned them over to Mexican officials for deportation, the Associated Press reported. The main caravan has between 4,000 and 6,000 participants, and the city’s mayor hasn’t exactly been welcoming.
- NBC News also reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is gathering intelligence from paid undercover informants inside the migrant caravan and reading their text messages.
- On the U.S. side of the border, a small but highly coordinated militia group keeps a lookout. The Los Angeles Times embedded with a minuteman in Campo and reported that their presence is not supported by the Defense Department.
- As NBC 7 noted, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited San Diego Tuesday to view “border hardening” efforts by the military and told reporters, “The crisis is real and it is just on the other side of this wall.”
In Other News
- San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is asking all city departments to propose 3 percent spending cuts. Last week, officials unveiled estimated shortfalls, including a $73.6 million deficit in fiscal year 2020, which begins in July. (Union-Tribune)
- Two whistleblowers say medically unnecessary and potentially dangerous research was performed on veterans suffering from alcoholism and liver disease at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. (inewsource)
- A 6.5-mile bike route from the border crossing in San Ysidro to Imperial Beach is in the works. It’ll connect cyclists to the Bayshore Bikeway, which stretches around the San Diego Bay. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego conventions delivered $652 million in spending countywide, less than the two previous years. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.