Morning Report: The Great Turnout Disparity - Voice of San Diego

Morning Report UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Morning Report: The Great Turnout Disparity

Where people did and didn’t vote, explaining health care, Balboa Park battle rages on, and whether municipal bankruptcy is a trend.

The tide changes twice a day, everyday. It is one of the few things on this planet that has remained constant for millennia and will certainly outlast every man, woman, and child. Unfortunately, political tides are far less predictable and considerably more volatile.

Our data expert Keegan Kyle has created two maps to show the enormous gulf between voter turnout in the 2008 general election and the 2012 primaries.

More than twice as many people voted in the 2008 election (37 percent vs. 84 percent). Of course, these were two different beasts. One was a primary, the other a general.

But the disparity highlights the roll turnout and the presidential election will play in the general, and how the low turnout of the primary meant more partisan influence.

We crunched the numbers to see how different parts of the county contributed to last month’s historically dismal data and we attempt to examine how the various scenarios will affect our local seats this November. This coverage piggybacks on our recent examination of how President Obama’s bid for reelection will affect the performance of Democratic candidates in the mayoral race.

SD Explained: Big Bills for Local Hospitals

Hospitals are routinely left holding the bag for the uninsured and they, in turn, pass those costs on to everyone. In this segment of San Diego Explained, we take a look at Patient X, a single uninsured person at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista who has racked up costs of more than $1.8 million dollars since 2006 due to coverage required by federal regulations.

Our Scott Lewis teamed up with NBC 7 San Diego to examine the EMTALA law and the fiscal dilemma of required care for uninsured patients. It remains to be seen how the new Affordable Care Act will affect hospitals and taxpayers, our local hospitals’ dilemma is a shining example of the type of burden that the new legislation is designed to alleviate.

The Balboa Park Debate Gets ‘Idiotic’

The U-T published a riveting editorial regarding the debate over proposed renovations at Balboa Park on Wednesday. Taking a cue from always eloquent Mayor Jerry Sanders, the piece takes the golden opportunity not once… not twice… but five times to disregard criticism of the project by city officials and civic group leaders as “idiotic.” Who needs dialogue anyways?

VOSD took its lumps over the issue yesterday in the comments thread for our recent Fact Check of statements made by Bruce Coons, an outspoken critic of the project.

Our conclusions were dissected from all angles — running the gamut from informed demands for more information to stinging accusations of editorial bias. Our findings were even equated to lowly processed lunch meats. If every issue in the city were met with this kind of enthusiasm, we’d have to start our own reality TV show.

Seau Brain Tissue to Be Examined for Concussion Effects

The tragic death San Diego football superstar Junior Seau has officially become part of the investigation into the effects of chronic brain trauma on professional athletes.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Seau’s family has decided to donate portions of the famed linebacker’s brain tissue to the National Institutes of Health for examination in the ongoing study of long term effects from repeated concussions.

Evidence is mounting and several NFL officials have begun to acknowledge the need for major changes amidst a spate of lawsuits from former players and the league’s decision to join the military in the use of helmet sensors to mine data.

We prepared a Reader’s Guide on this issue shortly after Seau’s suicide earlier this year.

The State Decides to Suspend Part of the Open-Meetings Law

The California legislature decided to suspend part of the Brown Act, a law requiring city and county government agencies to inform the public of when and where they will be meeting, what they will be talking about and their closed door-decisions, the Press-Enterprise reports.

The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters weighs in, explaining that the seemingly draconian decision is not exactly what it seems. He claims the sunshine law is very much intact, although local agencies will now have to foot the bill to meet the requirements. The cost-cutting measure is estimated to save the State of California roughly $96 million.

KPBS examined the 3-year suspension of the law, saying residents will have diminished recourse in seeking full disclosure from municipalities.

It’s Cool to Go Broke, Say California Municipalities

Bloomberg reports that the recent deluge of municipal bankruptcies by California cities is a signal that the taboo of insolvency is not what it used to be.

Recent filings by San Bernardino, Stockton, and Mammoth Lakes are the first in California in nearly five years. Stockton’s bankruptcy marks the biggest municipal filing in the United States during the current downturn.

The Los Angeles Times thinks it might be a trend as cities all over California discontinue daily services in a last ditch effort to avoid financial collapse.

The New York Times, meanwhile, says it isn’t a trend — at least outside of California.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @CCWeatherby.

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