Morning Report: Lindbergh Still Flies at the Airport
For decades, San Diego’s airport was best known as Lindbergh Field in honor of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh and until just a few years ago, Lindbergh was memorialized in a mural on the airport’s former commuter terminal.
But things have changed in recent years.
Voice’s Kinsee Morlan considered whether Lindbergh’s history of anti-Semitic and racist views had anything to do with the disappearance of that mural — a question submitted by Kelli Moors through our new feature, The People’s Reporter.
Morlan found that the airport’s move away from Lindbergh was not tied to his anti-Semitic and racist views. In fact, the airport has plans to reinstall a bronze statue of Lindbergh soon.
And as it turns out, that mural of Lindbergh is now mounted on a building in downtown Ramona.
Meanwhile, debates about monuments and other facilities named for Lindbergh and other historic figures with racist views are playing out in other parts of the country.
Have your own question for us to answer? Tell us here.
Time to Rethink the Convention Center Expansion
A decade-long attempt to expand the San Diego Convention Center went down in flames last week, so you won’t see it on the November ballot. But whether the city and the Port of San Diego are still going to pay the guys who own the lease to the nearby land is an open question.
In June, those guys were promised $5.3 million as a deposit and $33 million if the ballot measure was successful. Here’s one of them.
Voice’s Scott Lewis argues that if officials stiff those guys (again) then it’s time to drop the obsession with a waterfront Convention Center expansion. Instead, they should consider what opponents of the waterfront plan have been saying for years — that an expansion to the north, not the south, would make more sense.
“Once you come to terms with the idea that the waterfront expansion may be dead, a new world of possibility opens,” Lewis writes. “You can start to design something new with the money you would have paid — something that takes advantage of our outdoor lifestyle to connect Visitor Island with the rest of our developing downtown.”
City Auditor Is Moving on
After 11 years on the job, city auditor Eduardo Luna tendered his resignation, saying he would be taking a similar position with Beverly Hills, according to the U-T.
The auditor position was created in the wake of a financial crisis, and in 2009, Luna was given a 10-year term to avoid political pressure.
Notably over the years, Luna found:
- weaknesses in the development system that could have allowed employees to commit fraud without being detected
- architects who shouldn’t have qualified for a program that fast-tracks development projects benefited anyway, including some with ties to the mayor
- the city’s business subsidy program hadn’t created meaningful benchmarks, and benefits were rarely going to poorer communities
- stormwater was among the most underfunded infrastructure, which could lead to flooding, sinkholes, metal and bacteria-filled streams and toxic coastal waters
- the city’s water department sent thousands of incorrect water bills last year
City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who chairs the city’s audit committee, said the search for a new auditor was already underway as the city charter “only allows for one 10-year term” and that an interim auditor would be appointed while the city searches for Luna’s replacement. His resignation is effective Sept. 28.
The World vs. Ben Kalasho
Activists and residents of El Cajon increased pressure on City Councilman Ben Kalasho to resign in the face of multiple scandals. Over the last year, Kalasho has been accused of fraud and harassment, voting on items that impact him financially, intimidating a reporter, and illegally blocking critics on social media.
That last allegation is part of a lawsuit filed in July by attorney Cory Briggs and activist Mark Lane, who said he intended to serve Kalasho with legal paperwork at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, but Kalasho didn’t show.
Democratic operatives took the opportunity to disavow Kalasho’s connection to their party.
James Elia, a state Assembly candidate, said Kalasho has become one of three recurring topics while campaigning in El Cajon (the others being homelessness and housing).
“I do call for Ben to get some sort of help,” Elia said. “I think every human being can be salvageable. But at this moment in time, I don’t think he’s fit to serve.”
Kalasho posted on Facebook that same night: “These Politicians are playing Checkers while I’m out here playing Chess. #strategy”
DA Wants Legal Opinion on Reviewing McNeil Case
At a press conference, activists said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan’s review of the Earl McNeil death investigation is a conflict of interest because McNeil was a paid informant for prosecutors. McNeil stopped breathing while in National City police custody in May, and the group San Diegans for Criminal Justice Reform is asking the DA to recuse herself from a review of the evidence, 10News reports.
In a statement, Stephan said her office has prioritized the case and will “provide an independent analysis to determine if any use of force was legally justified or not, for the purposes of criminal liability. In the meantime, the district attorney’s office has reached out to the California attorney general’s office to request their opinion on whether there is a legal basis for recusal.”
The DA is also promising to share the evidence with the FBI’s Civil Rights Division for additional oversight. National City Police had offered to release the medical examiner’s report upon completion, but the U-T says the Sheriff’s Department has requested it remain sealed, so that it doesn’t “taint any possible witness statements should the agency need to do any follow up investigation.”
Weeks ago, according to the U-T, the medical examiner’s office suggested McNeil suffered a heart attack while in police custody, but his family has raised questions over what they said were bruises on his head and face.
San Diego’s Feeling the Heat
San Diego’s seen some less sweltering weather this week but the heat’s still making news.
The National Weather Service reports the period between July 1 and Aug. 13 was the city’s hottest ever 44-day period, breaking a 34-year record. The Weather Service also noted that temperatures had been 80 degrees or higher for 17 days in a row as of Tuesday, setting another 34-year record.
Mashable explained how warm ocean waters and lingering hot air bolstered by climate change are making it an extra hot summer in San Diego.
In Other News
- The county has agreed to settle two lawsuits by former foster children who allege that officials failed to protect them from a sexually abusive foster parent, then invaded one of the children’s privacy during litigation, according to the U-T. Reporter Morgan Cook talked about the first lawsuit on our podcast in July.
- San Diego is seeking armed guards to patrol Balboa Park, the Central Library and other iconic sites. 10News reports that the current guards, who essentially observe and report, have been threatened, spit on and harassed by homeless people. “The city is now aiming to increase their ability to defend themselves,” the TV station says.
- Airbnb says 15 percent of its hosts in San Diego are teachers and they earned a combined $2.7 million last year. (Union-Tribune)
- Also last year, San Diego County students who took the ACT scored an average of 7.5 points higher than the statewide average, inewsource reports. The five schools with the lowest ACT results were in San Diego Unified School District, and include Lincoln High School, which has seen four principals in five years and continues to struggle with violence.
- Our friend Liam Dillon at the L.A. Times explains how California became the most secretive state for police misconduct records. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego is part of a group of lawmakers who are confronting police unions in ways that were once unthinkable.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday opened a new 22-lane pedestrian crossing in San Ysidro. (CBS8)
- A judge has ordered the city to pay SoccerCity supporters more than $100,000 in legal fees after City Attorney Mara Elliott sued to remove their initiative from the November ballot. Backers of the SDSU West plan say their Mission Valley redevelopment blueprint includes a plan to divert Murphy Canyon Creek to lessen the risk of flooding. (KPBS / Times of San Diego)
- Boulevard residents are pushing back against a large wind turbine project envisioned for 2,000-acre private ranch. (NBC7)
- Plans for a proposed Harbor Island hotel could fall apart after Port commissioners declined to take action on the project this week. (Union-Tribune)
- Coronado leaders have expanded the city’s ban on smoking on public property to include e-cigarettes and other battery-operated devices. (NBC7)
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx, and edited by Scott Lewis.