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DA seeks a new approach in prostitution prosecutions, behind the
governor’s pardon power, reptile smuggling and Florida sends us
The DA is pushing for state legislation that would endorse its approach to prosecuting pimps by going after them with an unusual enhanced charge — pimping for the benefit of a gang. That helps prosecutors get harsher sentences. Prosecutors say prostitution is boosting the financial coffers of gangs because penalties for pimping are lighter than those for drug crimes.
Garden, Port Plan Get Go-Aheads:
• The port approved “the long-awaited $28 million first-phase of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan that promises to beautify San Diego’s western waterfront,” the U-T reports, but appeals and lack of funding could spell trouble.
• The red tape is dissolving, bit by bit: The City Council approved a deal that will allow a nonprofit group to plant a community garden in a southeastern San Diego neighborhood.
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Hoping to Stay There:
The county board of supervisors hasn’t had a new member since 1995, and if three board members have their way, it’ll stay like that for at least a few more years. The U-T says incumbents Pam Slater-Price, Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox are all sending signals that they’ll run again in 2012.
Beg Your Pardon, Governor:
Arnold Schwarzenegger left office with a last-minute blot on his record: a widely criticized commutation of the sentence of the son of a former Assembly speaker who admitted taking part in a killing in San Diego. Why do presidents and governors have the power to pardon and shrink sentences? The answer lies in the power of monarchs and the checks-and-balance system. We check the history of clemency, recap a few famous pardons and note when San Diego prosecutors requested one themselves for a man on Death Row who’d killed his mistress.
A Slippery Tale of Smuggling:
The San Diego Zoo has just about the most sterling reputation imaginable, but a scandal hit the venerable institution in the late 1990s: a reptile curator stood accused of trafficking in endangered animals. There was much more to the story, as a journalist reveals in a new book: for decades, major zoos across the country had supported an international trade in stolen snakes, tortoises and lizards. The author tells us about the era of rampant reptile smuggling and how it came to an end.
Kayaks have been among my least favorite things ever since an unfortunate incident a few years ago off of La Jolla Shores. Let’s just say it’s no fun to fall off a kayak, fail to get back on, get towed back to shore by two strangers and then get stranded. But I digress.
So now I cheer to hear that someone is getting rid of his plastic kayak. (Good riddance!) But he wants to know if he can recycle it, and he asked us to find out. Answer: Yup, as long as he cuts it up. (Good luck with that.) Also: Do we need to wash stuff before it goes in the curbside recycling bin? Answer: Maybe.
A Place for Their Stuff:
• San Diego’s homeless people will get storage space as part of a newly approved settlement of a lawsuit that claimed city employees destroyed the possessions of transients. A city report says the storage space should reduce “blight” on the street. (CityBeat)
What to Wear:
It’s not the Oscars or even the Tonys, but the glitzy San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel awards come pretty close. Members of the local theater community gathered on Monday night to watch their colleagues get honored, and arts editor Kelly Bennett was there.
She chronicles the highlights, including the sounds (hoots, hollers and ovations) and the clothes (lots of feathers and sparkles and even a hot pink blazer). So that’s where my wardrobe went.
Attention High Schoolers:
We’re holding our first-ever High School Student News Workshop on Feb. 5. We’ll talk about the future of news, offer advice about going online and offer programs and break-out sessions designed to help you. Students, parents and teachers are all welcome, and it’s free to attend, although please register first. Also: our annual high school journalism contest deadline is coming up in a few months. It offers $500 in each category.
A Media Star Is Born:
A self-employed San Diegan refused to sit by — and pay — quietly when Blue Shield of California socked him with a 59 percent increase in his health insurance premiums ($160 a month). He raised a stink online, complained to the state, then called the L.A. Times. The result, our news partner sandiego.com says, is a flood of attention, including calls from the nightly network news shows. The state insurance commissioner is now on Blue Shield’s case, too.
From There to Here:
• The city of St. Petersburg in Florida pays to put homeless people on buses and send them out of town. An advocate claims they’ve been dispatched to places like San Diego even though they don’t have family there. Not true, a city official says. (The practice is sometimes known as Greyhound therapy.)
Most of Our Objects Are Identified:
San Diego County has plenty of open spaces, but we’re far from being one of the nation’s hot spots for UFO sightings, according to 15 years of data from the National UFO Reporting Center. We only have a rate of 11 sightings per 100,000 people.
But if we do ever do come across aliens from outer space, we’ll know just what to do: put them on a bus to St. Petersburg.