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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Ex-mayor in a state of denial, infrastructure fix is limited, Chargers trademark bid doesn’t reveal intentions, tuna treaty’s in trouble, El Chapo roundup and a memorable encounter (Penncounter?)
Bob Filner doesn’t live here anymore, and he’s kept mum since he abandoned his post as part of a legal settlement over sexual harassment claims. But the former mayor still keeps tabs on local and national politics from Los Angeles, and he got in touch with VOSD to weigh in on veteran homelessness.
Filner spent much of his conversation with our Lisa Halverstadt talking about this topic through the lens of his own accomplishments, his goals and the city’s lack of progress.
Then Filner talked about the allegations against him that sparked one of the biggest scandals in San Diego’s history. “I have a few legal things I have got to settle about it but I as I said, I gave them the ammunition but they pulled the trigger. They aimed the gun and pulled the trigger. It wouldn’t have happened to someone else.”
He adds: “When you look at what, quote, I was charged with, you know, it was, really, nothing illegal and it was just an attempt of the establishment to take back their city, which they did … I never sexually harassed anybody by the way.” Filner did, however, plead guilty to one felony charge and two misdemeanors tied to the accusations.
Filner claims he was removed through a coup, hints darkly that accusers were paid and says his office was bugged. (The former police chief tells us that the cops didn’t find a bug.)
For the full interview, which also includes Filner’s comments about the stadium mess and the Sunroad mess, click here.
Councilman Mark Kersey is pushing a ballot measure that — if approved by voters — would force the city to prioritize spending to fix streets, sidewalks and other parts of the city’s infrastructure. Now, the city’s budget analyst is out with a report that says it’ll only be a first step; the report is less enthusiastic than you may have heard. “Tevlin essentially says that Kersey’s idea isn’t going to fix the city’s massive infrastructure problems,” Liam Dillon writes. A tax increase, which Kersey’s measure does not include, would go further toward funding fixes, the report notes.
“Last week, the professional football team that still calls San Diego home filed applications to trademark ‘Los Angeles Chargers,’” writes local copyright attorney David Lizerbram in a VOSD commentary. “Don’t panic: This doesn’t necessarily mean that the team is moving to L.A.”
The filing isn’t a firm sign of anything, he writes. It’s merely a placeholder in case the team eventually wants to use the name. The name “San Diego Raiders,” however, is still up for grabs.
“The U.S. State Department has announced its intention to pull out of a nearly 30-year treaty that allowed American boats to fish tuna in a vast area of the Pacific Ocean,” the Union-Tribune reports. The dispute, which affects some boats based here, revolves around fees charged by island nations.
San Diego-area Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, meanwhile, wants to pull foreign aid to the nations that are involved.
Hunter has been in the news lately: He recently came out against restrictions on e-cigarettes in a commentary in which he acknowledged: “Yes, I vape. On occasion, I might even smoke a real cigarette. Through my military career, including three combat tours, I even experienced chewing tobacco.”
“I vape because I believe it could save my life,” said Hunter.
VOSD’s Border Report leads with all the latest news about the re-capture (re-re-capture?) of drug lord El Chapo. Authorities apparently found him with the help of a large order of tacos.
There’s some talk that he may be tried in federal court here, but a local attorney tells the Union-Tribune that a San Diego case is too old. Also in the Border Report: Eye-scanning at the border crossing, a papal visit to Juárez and a zero-star review for Señor Frogs.
The San Diego Performing Arts League was once regarded as one of the most important arts groups in town, but it nearly imploded in 2011 after a spate of financial troubles. Now the group is bouncing back, writes Kinsee Morlan in this week’s Culture Report. It’s kicking off the first-ever San Diego Theatre Week, and “is also getting ready for the grand opening of its new ArtsTix Ticket Center inside Horton Plaza Park, which, after many delays, could open by the end of February or the beginning of March.”
Also in the Culture Report: Morlan answers questions about the city’s decision to end a special lease arrangement that was supposed to give arts groups a leg up in East Village, the Washington Post checks in on battles between craft beer brewers and artist Mario Torero’s trademark “Eyes of Picasso” mural pops up yet again.
• The San Diego city government now has its own online news site called “Inside San Diego,” full of advice and stories about the good things that the city and the people in it are doing.
• KPBS has an update on the now-closed San Onofre nuclear power plant, four years after it leaked radiation: “Customers have since taken a multi-billion-dollar hit on the plant’s premature closure. And despite revelations about what Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator and majority owner, knew before its flawed equipment was installed, the company has mostly escaped accountability.”
• As Los Angeles launches its bid to equip its cops with body cameras, controversy is erupting over the process that officials are using to buy them without going through “a time-consuming and potentially politically messy bidding process.” (L.A. Times)
• A state bill would limit Californians to buy one shotgun or rifle per month; there’s already an identical limit for handguns. (AP)
• Here’s a photo of then-Gov. (and now-Governor) Jerry Brown being introduced by the late Eagles star Glenn Frey at a San Diego Sports Arena fundraiser in 1979. (L.A. Times)
• The Birch Aquarium is spotlighting remarkable undersea photos from waters off Mexico. (U-T)
• Speaking of the whole El Chapo business … Back in the late 1980s, I had a job selling Mexican car insurance to tourists at a business in Chula Vista. One day, I walked into the crowded lobby to go to work and found a customer in my way. I politely asked if he could move. He didn’t, so I shoved past him. He looked startled; I moved on to get ready for work.
Moments later, I heard my co-workers buzzing excitedly about the famous customer who’d just been in. Who? The guy who almost punched me! (Or as I thought of him, some dude who was in my way.) Who?! Sean Penn.
Yes, the actor who gained fame by playing Jeff Spicoli, a character — along with Mr. Hand and all the rest — inspired by real-life people encountered by writer Cameron Crowe during his undercover stint as a student at San Diego’s own Clairemont High.
Considering Penn’s touchiness about photographers at the time we ran into each other, I was really lucky to not be carrying a camera. Otherwise, I could have met Mr. Hand’s colleague, Mr. Fist.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.