Morning Report: Punished for Pissing Off Police | Voice of San Diego

News

Morning Report: Punished for Pissing Off Police

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a press conference announcing the department’s decision to stop using the carotid restraint method. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

A law that prohibits seditious language, and that San Diego approved a century ago during the anti-German hysteria of World War I, is on the verge of becoming history. Long live the Kaiser. 

The city’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee unanimously agreed Wednesday to repeal municipal code section 56.30 in response to a story last month by VOSD intern Kate Nucci. Since 2013, police officers have issued 83 tickets against people for speech that supposedly breaches the public peace. 

Generally, seditious language is language advocating for the overthrow of the government. 

In recent weeks, though, Nucci has been interviewing people who’ve received a ticket and they all claim they were cited after saying something an officer found personally offensive — usually about the police and sometimes quietly to themselves. 

Some said officers used physical force in the procession. One person said he even spent a night in jail. Another hired an attorney, fought the ticket and won. Most people, however, appear to pay the fines and move on with their lives. 

The ACLU and City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno have argued that the repeal effort doesn’t go far enough because it won’t automatically clear anyone’s record of a seditious language offense and it won’t give them their money back. City Attorney Mara Elliott said she supports that idea as well, but because the tickets are handled administratively, as infractions, her office isn’t involved in the prosecution. 

Supreme Court Decision Not to Decide Could Revive Measure C

The state Supreme Court’s decision not to relitigate an appeals court decision to allow a San Francisco citizens’ initiative to pass with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds majority could be good news for San Diego’s Measure C.

In March, the San Diego hotel-tax measure to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs fell just short of the two-thirds threshold.

So election attorneys and Measure C supporters were buzzing over the late Wednesday news.

The business and labor coalition behind the measure, who crafted it as a citizens’ initiative specifically to allow for this backup plan, said Wednesday it was mulling its next moves.

“This is unquestionably a major positive development,” Measure C spokeswoman Rachel Laing told VOSD. “The coalition is awaiting a full briefing from their attorney to determine their next steps.”

Hilary Nemchik, a spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott, wrote in an email that the city lawyers are evaluating the Supreme Court decision and will confer with city officials on potential next steps.

The Smart Streetlights Have Gone Dark

The Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee was also scheduled Wednesday to debate a new proposal giving San Diego police exclusive access to the smart streetlights, but an official pulled it at the last minute. 

Cody Hooven, director of the city’s Sustainability Department, said officials would be further assessing their options. “We also hear community stakeholders and Council members say they’d like to see the surveillance ordinance in place first before continued use of this technology,” she told the committee. 

The program was initially approved in 2016 as a way to dim lights from afar and save on energy costs while counting cars and collecting environmental data. But over time the tech became a tool primarily useful to law enforcement. 

The entire system is now dark.

In a statement, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office confirmed that the devices had been completely turned off based on “clear feedback” from other elected officials and community members. 

Capt. Jeff Jordon, who oversees SDPD’s use of the cameras, also said the last video pull was in connection to a homicide on Sept. 2. “To my knowledge, the system is off and no longer being used by SDPD,” he wrote in an email. 

On Tuesday, a group of tech and civil rights activists gathered downtown to demand that the city hit pause on the program until officials create meaningful rules and established a privacy advisory commission to help vet devices capable of watching or listening to the public. 

San Diego Moves Hundreds Into Housing

Faulconer’s office also announced Wednesday that more than 525 homeless San Diegans who had been staying at the Convention Center are now in various types of housing or with friends and families. Some are in rental units without subsidies and the largest group, 43 percent, are in permanent housing.  

The mayor said he expects another 175 people living in the Convention Center will be housed by the end of September, thanks in part to the planned opening of two large housing developments.

The state’s Project Homekey has also set aside $27.7 million to help the city buy a hotel to help house the people living at the Convention Center. Eventually, officials hope to purchase between 300 and 400 hotel rooms, an expense the city’s Housing Commission has also included $29 million in its budget.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt and edited by Sara Libby.

What do you think?
Loading