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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Districts not hot on Poway-style borrowing, San Diego’s pension influence, Issa’s wealth, an even hotter day and ranking our diversity.
Both candidates for mayor are trying to play up their abilities to unite San Diego and get things done. Neither are especially well known for consensus building and the winner will likely inherit a deeply divided City Council.
U.S. Rep. Bob Filner recently said this to tout his ability to unify: “We raised the budget of the Veterans Administration when I was chairman over 65 percent for health care of our nation’s veterans. I got a unanimous Congress to do that. And we’re not talking about a few hundred thousand or a hundred million a year. We’re talking about from $30 billion to $50 billion. That’s a lot of money.”
Is he telling the truth? San Diego Fact Check decided to review his statement by breaking it into two parts.
Did the veterans budget grow by 65 percent? That claim is Mostly True.
As for the claim about a unanimous Congress, that claim gets one of our rare “Huckster Propaganda” verdicts reserved for a statement “that’s inaccurate and it’s reasonable to expect the person making it knew that and made the claim anyway to gain an advantage.”
He deserves it, San Diego Fact Check says, because “the financial actions he described were rarely united,” and he should have known that.
Districts Wary of the Poway Way
Several school districts have restricted or banned the kind of unusual and potentially ultra-costly borrowing scheme that has landed the Poway school district in hot water, the North County Times reports. The districts are those that serve K-12 students in Ramona, community college students in the Oceanside area and high school students in the Encinitas area.
The paper says districts have rushed to change their rules in order to get support from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which initially liked the Poway deal until its implications became clear. The association now won’t endorse bond deals that include Poway-style borrowing.
Following SD’s Lead on the Pension Pickle
A few years ago, amid an avalanche of bad news and negative publicity that earned San Diego the not-so-delightful “Enron-by-the-Sea” monicker, few other cities would have followed our lead on just about anything. Now, however, we’re a bit of a trendsetter — at least when it comes to how City Hall is dealing with a hugely expensive bill to pay for the pensions of municipal employees.
In an article for San Diego Magazine, our contributor Seth Hall — a frequent Morning Report pinch-hitter — examines the influence of San Diego and takes a look at what other cities are doing.
Comments on U-T Purchase, Safe Mayors and More
Our compilation of the comments of the week includes remarks from readers on the U-T’s purchase of the North County Times (“The U-T is representative of the extreme right wing that dominates the Republican party. And I’m not sure conservative is the right word any more,” says Janet Shelton), the kind of folks who win mayoral election (“San Diegans elect ‘safe,'” writes Erik Bruvold) and more.
Another Day, Another Mayoral Debate
The two rivals for mayor debated live on 10News Sunday night. No story has been posted yet. The candidates are facing each other again tonight in front of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce at the La Jolla Playhouse.
In the spirit of we watch some of these so you don’t have to, our Liam Dillon says the only news he saw emerge out of Sunday’s debate was Councilman Carl DeMaio’s suggestion that he had been meeting with advocates for access to medical marijuana to develop a new city ordinance.
Immediately, the fact checking began. DeMaio, who represents conservative Rancho Bernardo, had been reluctant to sign off on anything that wasn’t a total ban of dispensaries in the city. He opposed a city ordinance that set aside limited areas for the organization.
The city’s ordinance may not have protected anyone from the United States, who’s chief prosecutor managed to close all dispensaries in the region with threats to landlords and even media. The drug is illegal according to federal law. Catch up on where we left it with our last San Diego Explained on the issue. Our expert on the show said he’d be surprised if more than a few dispensaries got shut down. In fact, most did.
The last one standing, which jumped through all the hoops, went down just recently.
Quick News Hits
• Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman who represents part of North County, is now only the second richest member of the House of Representatives, according to Roll Call’s analysis of 2011 financial disclosures.
Issa’s minimum net worth is estimated at $141 million, down $80 million from the previous year. He made some of his fortune through a car alarm company that he founded.
Issa ranks as the third richest member of the entire Congress below a Texas congressman and Senator John Kerry. California Senator Dianne Feinstein is in 9th place with an estimated minimum net worth of $42 million.
• Remember Garland Peed? He’s the prosecutor who ran for a judge position against Gary Kreep, a right-wing conservative attorney who’s a leader in the movement questioning whether the president was born in the United States. Kreep won, making national news.
Peed has now retired from the county district attorney’s office and is now working for the San Diego city attorney’s office, the U-T reports.
• I was out of town during the heat wave, but I heard plenty about it. Things got quite toasty in unexpected places (106 in Chula Vista?), but San Diego remained shy of the hottest day in its history. That was back on Sept. 26, 1963: as we told you a while back, the mercury reached 111 degrees, hot enough to melt the candles at a Old Town shop, kill tens of thousands of chickens and force schools to take a “heat day” for the first time in 24 years.
A third-grader in Allied Gardens then offered this memory 46 years later: “When I returned to the classroom, all my crayons were melted, and all the spiders I had collected in a little plastic box were cooked.”
• One way to measure diversity is to check if there are equal numbers of the major races (plus the ever-present “other”) in a community. The more there are of each, the thinking goes, the more diverse a community is.
That’s what Brown University did with 366 U.S. metropolitan areas. San Diego is toward the top — we rank as the 13th most diverse. Laredo, Texas, which is 96 percent Latino, is at the bottom.
According to the ranking, San Diego County is 32 percent Latino. That makes me wonder: do a third of our restaurants specialize in cuisine from the Latin world?
As a public service, I’m willing to visit three of these restaurants each day until there aren’t any more left. Now I just need funding, transportation and a heart bypass machine.
Correction: This article originally stated that all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Diego had been closed. Readers have brought to our attention that a couple remain operating including this place, the Holistic Café. We regret the error.