San Diego is on its way to repealing a law designed a century ago to make the citizenry more patriotic by policing speech.
Earlier this month, Kate Nucci reported that cops since 2013 had issued at least 83 tickets for seditious language. Shortly after the story ran, the City Attorney’s office confirmed that it was drafting an ordinance to officially do away with Municipal Code 56.30.
A spokesman for Police Chief Dave Nisleit said he’s instructed officers, in the meantime, to stop writing seditious language tickets.
Seditious language is generally understood as speech advocating to overthrow the government, but the stories we’ve been collecting don’t, um, point to some mass movement of insurrection. One man said he was ticketed for drunkenly reciting rap lyrics after leaving work in the middle of the night.
A ticket of this nature is likely to fail a constitutional challenge, but because police have been issuing the tickets as infractions, rather than misdemeanors, they’re handled administratively, not criminally. That means lawyers aren’t typically involved in the process.
Interestingly, though, a spokeswoman for the city attorney’s office told Nucci that there’ve been efforts to repeal the law in the past and she shared a few examples. Those efforts, however, never got very far.
If you want more on the origins of the law, VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga laid out the history in a separate story two weeks ago.
Why We’re Suing for Coronavirus Records
It’s been five months (five months!) since governments issued shelter-in-place orders and there’s still a lot we don’t know about how the novel coronavirus is spreading and how officials responded.
San Diego County, which is leading the regional response, provides only the most basic information about where outbreaks of COVID-19 are occurring. In April, we asked for copies of epidemiological reports and death certificates and were told we couldn’t get those documents until the pandemic ended. Whenever that is.
With an assist from our boy Felix Tinkov, a public records attorney, VOSD has filed four lawsuits in recent days to not only get COVID-related data out of the county and other public institutions but to dismantle bad record-keeping policies.
Solana Beach has revealed itself to be especially hostile to transparency during the pandemic. An attorney for the city acknowledged last month that officials deleted emails after we’d requested them.
Those living outside San Diego, take note: We’re also suing the Regents of University of California because UCSD is arguing that administrative emails are private and not even searchable without the consent of every individual employee — many thousands of them.
If that lawsuit is successful, no UC school could use its internal definition of privacy as a justification for defying the California Public Records Act in the future.
- Uber is campaigning hard against AB 5, the labor law written by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that limits when employers can classify workers as independent contractors, but a judge recently sided in a legal case with San Diego and other cities. The company is now threatening to pull its services out of California if it’s forced to treat its drivers like employees.
- On the podcast, the crew broke down a confusing dispute in the city attorney’s race over whether candidates should be allowed to tout the Union-Tribune’s endorsement in their ballot statements, and what those endorsements actually mean.
- The two groups are vying to develop the Sports Arena land in the Midway District and they sat for interviews with Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s selection committee. The winner could be announced as soon as this week.
- Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens reflects back on San Diego County Republican Party chairman Tony Krvaric’s tenure.
SANDAG Exec Also Donated to Gloria, Gómez, Ward
We wrote last week about the Board of Supervisors’ race in District 3 and how it’ll affect the SANDAG’s push for long-term investments in transit. But the San Diego mayor’s race, as the Union-Tribune recently reported, could also be pivotal.
Assemblyman Todd Gloria has been openly supportive of the idea for a year now. Councilwoman Barbara Bry, however, has put some distance between herself and SANDAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata’s proposal to make alternative forms of transportation just as competitive as driving.
She called it “another rush deal during the pandemic.”
We checked this weekend and it turns out Ikhrata didn’t just donate $850 to Terra Lawson-Remer’s county campaign. He donated $600 to Gloria’s mayoral campaign over Bry’s last year.
Campaign finance records also show Ikhrata gave Georgette Gómez’s congressional campaign $4,200 over the last year and Chris Ward’s Assembly campaign $250 in June.
In Other News
- The coronavirus hasn’t devastated the homeless as many feared. This Associated Press report focuses on San Diego’s efforts at the Convention Center.
- The founder of Defend East County lives in Arizona and created the group in response to burned-out banks in La Mesa following a protest. It has 20,000 online members and has become a clearinghouse for right-wing conspiracy theories. (Union-Tribune)
- The Downtown Partnership has installed “All Black Lives Matter” banners along Broadway. (NBC 7)
- The state’s Coastal Commission has signed off on emergency repairs to the Del Mar bluffs but emphasized the need to move the railroad tracks inland. A tunnel won’t likely be built for decades. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.