Morning Report: Signs of the (Election) Times - Voice of San Diego

Morning Report

Morning Report: Signs of the (Election) Times

A possible new power player, sheriff’s department blows off drone request, high-flying spending and Copley’s estate.

 

The campaign is over, but campaign signs are another matter entirely. Some of them stick around for weeks after every election, reminding us of who’s fighting for taxpayers and who’s fighting the special interests (instead of, you know, the un-special ones).

What are the rules for campaign signs that stick around like a bad cold? We checked with the city and the county to find out. Turns out that if you see a sign this week, it shouldn’t be there: Deadlines to dump them — or save them for a future campaign — have passed.

City Politics Roundup

• Here’s a possible new power player in city politics: Councilman Todd Gloria. As our Scott Lewis writes, Gloria is on track to become the new president of the City Council and hold great power to mold the debate under the mayorship of Bob Filner. After all, Gloria knows the issues while Filner — full of grand visions based on the vaguest of details — is still catching up.   

• Lewis also chats with Vince Hall, who will be Filner’s new chief of staff and represents the hopes and dreams of progressives who have finally landed an ally in the mayor’s office.

• The U-T ponders the legacy of Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Balboa Park’s Ranger Kim

We check in with Kim Duclo, a Balboa Park ranger known as “Ranger Kim.” He’s a popular figure around the park (read more about him here) and will share his knowledge at this week’s “Meeting of the Minds” event.   

Sheriff’s Blow Off Request on Drones

Has the sheriff’s department been looking into buying unmanned drones for surveillance and emergency preparedness purposes? If it has, it would be good for the public to know it and understand whether law enforcement is putting safeguards in place to prevent spying.

Well, guess what: The sheriff’s department doesn’t seem to think the public has a right to know about any of this.

In response to a request from a civil liberties organization that focuses on electronic rights, the sheriff’s department said it didn’t have any “responsive” documents. But it appears that the department ignored a very “responsive” document — a fulfilled request for a price for a drone.  

A website called techdirt has the play-by-play, including a contention that the sheriff’s department is ignoring the law regarding public records.  

• For another case of a public agency refusing to cough up a document that the public may have a right to see, check this story from the U-T about the long-troubled Tri-City Medical Center in North County.

The paper asked for recent emails in which the hospital staff discussed candidates for the hospital’s board. The management of the hospital, which is public and has to reply to open-records requests, said it didn’t have any.

Oopsy! It apparently missed one: an email that its own spokeswoman sent to the paper. It raised the initial questions at the paper by indicating that she may have devoted time on the public dime to doing research about a candidate.

“Problem is, the agency should have — at the very least — found the email … ” the paper says. “That omission would indicate the search was inadequate.”

Airport Staff Live Large on Public Dime

There’s a case to be made that focusing on minor examples of extravagant spending by public agencies draws attention away from wider abuses.

It’s not a case that I’ll make. I love these kinds of stories since they push government employees to stop living high on the public dime while they plead poverty. (My favorite story from this genre is from our own archives.)

That brings us to a new U-T story about high-on-the-hog spending over at the agency that runs the airport.

Back in 2009, we uncovered lavish spending by airport board members. Now, the U-T has focused on the airport’s staff and its spending. During a trip to Singapore, for instance, its CEO spend $91 on a steak, $23 on a bottle of water (and $177 overall for a dinner) and $569 a night on a hotel room.

The airport agency says the amount spent on staff travel is small. Still, the expenses help explain why it costs too much to use the airport.

For more about the airport, including its big new construction projects and plans to do something about all the pricey and unfabulous food, check our recent Q-and-A with the chairman of the airport board.

Copley Commentary Draws Barbs

Several readers wrote me to say they appreciated my commentary about how last week’s death of David Copley marked the end of a genteel old guard in our fair city. On our site, however, commenters were much more mixed.

One accused me of kowtowing to the U-T — an amusing allegation considering what its CEO told me to do a couple months ago — and another writes that she has “never read such a whitewash about the important and powerful Copley newspaper family.”

Check the comments and my response here.

• Copley left more than a mixed legacy in the world of newspaper publishing. As KPBS notes, the onetime billionaire — the current worth of his estate is unknown — left plenty of land that was in the name of his trust or Copley companies.

Like many people with a significant amount of assets, Copley had a trust, and it may shield the ultimate disposition of his estate from prying eyes, KPBS reports.

La Jolla Cove Raises a National Stink

The New York Times catches readers up on the fuss over the stench at La Jolla Cove and features photos by our contributing photographer Sam Hodgson. Our Lisa Halverstadt tackled the stench and the hurdles to eliminating it earlier this month.

“Just how bad the smell is is a matter of personal olfactory perception,” the Times writes. Maybe they should hand out clothespins over there for those whose noses know.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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