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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Journos reminisce as Daily Transcript joins list of defunct local papers, a bogus claim in city attorney race, refineries profit big off high gas prices, bay gets more weird art, and panhandler best practices.
What the heck is happening at local behemoth corporation Qualcomm, which is facing a breakup and big layoffs?
VOSD contributor Lily Leung digs into the unfolding crisis and finds its roots in “a perfect storm of regulatory scrutiny, falling market share and pressure to stay on top in China’s ultracompetitive smartphone market.”
“Not much is going well (for them,) really,” an analyst tells us. However, it’s not unusual for a company like Qualcomm to deal with challenges like layoffs and government investigations. Intel and Microsoft have been facing similar challenges.
A consultant for a candidate for city attorney dismissed a rival’s cred as a county prosecutor by telling the Union-Tribune that “criminal prosecution is a tiny part of the responsibilities of that office.”
San Diego Fact Check finds the claim is false. The city attorney’s office devotes a lot of money and staff time to processing citations and misdemeanor allegations and prosecuting cases.
The local newspaper die-off continues. The San Diego Daily Transcript, a five-day-a-week business newspaper, says it will close for good in September. In a note, publisher Robert Loomis says the 130-year-old paper is a victim of “increasing overhead, health care costs and the uncertain future of the news industry.”
The news set off a round of reminiscing by the many local journalists who spent part of their early careers at the Transcript. Alums of the paper affectionately known as the “Tranny” offered memories online including VOSD’s Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts, former VOSDer (VOSDician?) Andrew Donohue and local PR maven Rachel Laing.
• KPBS continues its profiles of San Diego Council members with a look at Myrtle Cole, one of the most low-profile members of the Council. She represents southeastern neighborhoods in the city and is the first black woman to serve on the Council.
Cole says she didn’t plan to run for Council, “but I did not see anyone who had the passion and the know-how and the determination to get things done.” Cole, a former police officer, says she’s focusing on bringing businesses like a new grocery store and restaurants to her district, and she’s “excited about the possibility of Chipotle and Broken Yolk restaurants opening in her district.”
• Congressional Republicans might face an uphill battle as they try to punish “sanctuary cities” that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter introduced legislation that would deny these cities access to some law enforcement grants. Though San Diego’s appeared on lists that classified it as a “sanctuary city” in the past, the mayor’s office has said it does cooperate. (New York Times, City News Service)
• Los Angeles County has joined the city of L.A. in adopting a $15-an-hour minimum wage, although it won’t go into effect for a while and will only be the law in unincorporated areas. The fate of a higher minimum wage in San Diego awaits a citywide vote. (L.A. Times)
Meanwhile, University of California campus workers are on the road to getting a minimum of $15 an hour. And New York state is poised to raise the fast-food worker minimum wage to $15. (City News Service, New York Times)
“As Los Angeles drivers shelled out more than $4 a gallon at the pump in recent weeks, the state’s oil refineries pocketed record amounts of money — as much as $1.17 a gallon in gross profits,” the L.A. Times reports. “From Jan. 1 to July 6, oil refineries almost doubled the typical amount they collect on a gallon of gasoline, state data show.”
As any local driver knows, the higher gas prices are hardly an L.A.-only phenomenon. We’ve been hit hard too by rocketing statewide gas prices. Oil companies have blamed a cutback in production due to refinery problems.
Car services like Uber have finally gotten a green light to both pick-up and drop-off at Lindbergh Field, and now an L.A. Times analysis finds that plenty of major airports are doing the same thing.
New York City, meanwhile, is backing down on an Uber crackdown: “The agreement brings a temporary end to a fractious struggle that had consumed City Hall for several days, and inundated parts of the city with mailers, phone calls, advertisements and even celebrity endorsements.” (New York Times)
Plus: New York Magazine digs into an Uber-funded study that examined things in L.A.: “On average, the researchers found that ‘a taxi takes two to three times longer to arrive than an UberX,’ while costing twice as much.”
So is the study legit? The magazine says there’s reason for some doubt.
• Politico takes an extensive look at the state of highway interchanges and whether we need more of them. Some local insight: “California is now sending most of its federal dollars directly to metropolitan planning organizations, which tend to be less focused on pouring new concrete than state transportation departments are. And with a slew of studies suggesting that expanding highways does not end up relieving congestion, more officials are turning to carpool lanes, tolled ‘Lexus lanes,’ and better information technology to help drivers avoid traffic.” We’ve got all those around here.
• GOP presidential hopefuls and progressive activists are converging on a conservative meeting in town. (Union-Tribune)
• A state of emergency after last weekend’s storms includes San Diego County. (City News Service)
• The New York Times looks at the troubled status of Christians in the Middle East. We’ve been reporting on the local Chaldean community and a local leader on the rise. East County has the second-largest population of Iraqi Christians in the country, and we examined the community and one prominent leader in particular back in May.
• Women will soon be able to buy birth control pills over-the-counter at California pharmacies, but they’ll need to jump through a hoop or two designed to protect their health. Abortion foes say it’s not enough. Back during the 2014 election, over-the-counter birth control was one of the few things Carl DeMaio and Rep. Scott Peters seemed to agree on. (KPBS)
• There’s going to be yet another massive and peculiar piece of public art on the waterfront, this one designed to memorialize a power plant. I’ll hold while you let that sink in.
Earlier this year, we took a look at the long history of wacky projects on the bay.
• Planning to drown your Padres-related sorrows at Padres games? Good news: The ballpark has some of the cheapest beer prices in the MLB. (VinePair)
• I spotted a panhandler sign at the 805 exit to El Cajon Boulevard the other day: “At Least Give Me the Finger.” (I declined.) At least the sign was creative. There’s been more where that came from: Slate checked in with a designer who tested the value of professionally designed money-begging signs by giving them to panhandlers in Chicago. They seemed to make a difference, apparently by making their owners look more human and approachable.
Whoa. There’s so much to think about here. While you’re pondering, don’t tell the ballpark beer hawkers about the power of snazzy marketing to pull cash out of people. It’ll be our little secret.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.