Weekend Report: The Top Cop

Morning Report

Weekend Report: The Top Cop

What we learned this week and the Coffee Collection.

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San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne could get out while the getting’s good, or at least better than it might be down the line.

He just had to oversee $16 million in cutbacks to the police department, and the city’s financial future doesn’t look promising. Lansdowne is 65 and could easily retire.

But as he tells us in this weekend’s Q&A feature, he’s “never been more involved or happier in a job.”

“I think we’re at a critical juncture in this department,” he says. “It’s going to be a tough 18 months to two years, and the department’s going to need someone to manage that. I have absolutely no intention of going somewhere else.”

In other news:

  • The San Diego teachers union has a new president, and it sounds like he won’t be an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners type like the last one, who’s being termed out. “I do believe in getting close to your friends and closer to your enemies,” the new union president says. Is he making a personal statement or auditioning for “The Godfather IV”?
  • In City Hall news: “The city of San Diego and its blue-collar employees reached a tentative agreement on a new one-year contract last night, a union official said, sparing the city the acrimony that came after wage cuts were forced on workers last year.” The deal doesn’t change salaries or pension benefits; the workers got the equivalent of a six percent pay cut last year.
  • History alert! A La Jolla woman who happens to be the great-great granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant is auctioning off a batch of his possessions, including gifts from foreign royalty, a brass travel clock that he gave to his wife, and a whole slew of photographs, postcards and letters.

    I talked to this lady about her great-great grandpa, her grandmother, and her sentimental attachment to the president’s belongings. (By the way, she’s not a descendent of Grant’s namesake son, who built the U.S. Grant Hotel.)

    And yes, in case you’re wondering, of course she knows who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb. The answer is nobody: Grant and his wife are entombed, and both are above ground. Now you know.

  • In a follow-up to this week’s story about tough times facing the local hotel industry, we hear from workers whose lives are turned upside down when hotels face financial trouble.
  • The Photo of the Day: Funny, they don’t look blueish.

Elsewhere:

  • “Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the sole remaining defendant in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians during the height of the Iraq war, was ordered to court-martial Friday on manslaughter, aggravated assault and related charges,” the NCT reports.
  • Your Government at Work Department: An NCT reader saw a story about required “smart meters” on houses and called the Public Utilities Commission to give it a piece of his mind. A man who answered the phone at the commission refused to listen to the reader’s concerns until he used the magic words: “After citing your article,” the reader told an NCT reporter, “he begrudgingly acknowledged they were supposed to listen to me.”
  • Movie actor Dennis Hopper, a graduate of La Mesa’s Helix High School, got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yesterday. Hopper, who’s been in everything from “Rebel Without a Cause” to “Blue Velvet,” is extremely ill and in the middle of a contentious divorce.
  • Finally, the federal government has created a website where you can see what percentage of your neighbors have already sent in their census forms. In other words, you can discover if your community is full of last-minute slackers or me-first Goody Two Shoes types.

Unfortunately, the site doesn’t say how many people near you are too lazy to find the census form where it fell underneath the couch. (My neighborhood has at least one of those people. So does my house.)

What We Learned This Week

A Big Abortion Brouhaha Is Brewing: San Diego schools are considering whether to allow pregnant girls to leave school to get abortions — without any adults telling their parents. If you listen closely, you can already hear people on both sides clearing their throats in preparation for shouting at each other. Everybody else should be stocking up on earplugs.

The County Supes Aren’t Identical After All: The five county supervisors, all white Republicans, like to vote alike. But they split this week, turning down a mammoth housing development north of Escondido.

Must Be that New Math: No, the Fact Check truth-o-meter says, San Diego schools haven’t lost 25 percent of their revenue.

We’ve Lost a “Loud-Mouthed, Pushy Little Broad”: Midge Costanza, who used those words to describe herself, was a hero to liberals, gays and women, not to mention one of the most influential women in the Carter White House. She died this week at 77.

The Coffee Collection: Stories to Enjoy Over a Cup of Java:

A Q&A with Bill Lerach: He said the payments to clients of his law firm that landed him in prison were standard practice. He gave us his take on a scathing new book about his efforts and what he thinks should happen to capitalism.

Sidewalk Solutions: Thanks to a non-profit group, the most pedestrian-unfriendly neighborhood in San Diego is getting safer.

Curfew! Gesundheit: San Diego cops are cracking down on curfew violations, rounding up dozens of teenagers in effort to keep kids away from crime.

D Is for Doomed?: Many of San Diego’s ninth graders seem to be destined for academic disaster: 11 percent of them have grade averages of D or lower, much more than those in the next two grades. What’s being done to help these kids during a crucial year?

Quote of the Week: “I keep telling them education is the way out. It’s kind of hard to tell them that when you can’t go to the library on a Saturday afternoon.” — Regina Burton, a homeless mother who tried to visit the downtown San Diego library last weekend to read a textbook for a class she’s taking. It’s now closed on Saturdays due to budget cuts; all branch libraries are shut on Mondays too.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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