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I have a lot of mixed feelings about the 101 Ash St. scandal.
In a silly, selfish way, it feels delightfully normal to have a shiny political scandal to devour that isn’t related to COVID. (I honestly had so much fun recording our late-night emergency podcast about the scandal with a glorious White Claw buzz.)
And it’s certainly a heftier issue than some of the ones the city, and in particular the race for mayor, has focused on in the past – I’m thinking scooters and vacation rentals. An enormous amount of taxpayer money will have been wasted when all is said and done, and now the scandal has taken some twists and turns that have damaged the credibility of two talented journalists, and unfairly maligned two people running for public office.
Yet as we begin ramping up all the preparations for this year’s Politifest, I keep thinking back to something Tasha Williamson said during last year’s Politifest mayoral debate: “We are talking about scooters and bikes so passionately,” she said, “but I can’t get police officers to stop killing people.”
Williamson couldn’t possibly have known that the killing of George Floyd would happen the next year, that it would be caught on video and would awaken and ignite the public to police abuses the way it did.
But she did know plenty about what we’ve seen in San Diego for years. Study after study that has shown police stop and search Black residents at a rate far higher than their share of their population and though they’re found with contraband less often. Case after case, story after story has shown Black residents being surveilled and targeted and harassed and arrested by local police in ways White residents truly could never imagine. Simultaneously, problem officers are not disciplined or held to account in any meaningful way.
Now, amid a once-in-a-generation reckoning with racial injustice and with the backdrop of the numerous and very real ways these injustices have impacted Black San Diegans, we appear poised to make an empty building the centerpiece of a race over who should lead San Diego and what the city’s future holds.
That’s, well, pretty San Diego I guess.
We’ll get around to facing systemic racism and police misconduct just as soon as there’s no koi pond fight or stadium or failed Balboa Park party or stadium or asbestos-filled empty building or stadium or Convention Center or stadium to deal with.
UCSD is testing sewage as an early coronavirus warning system – and it’s already finding infections even before students have returned to campus. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown has quickly ballooned into one of the largest in the country among federal facilities.
That brings us to the county’s metric for community outbreaks, which for months has been considered an important trigger. It is now becoming clear the metric may not be a good indicator for the severity of the virus after all. Schools, however, have built that metric into their reopening plans. Now they’re panicking about the number of students who are opting out as they remain closed.
Longtime hotel workers, meanwhile, are fighting for the right to regain their employment following coronavirus layoffs.
What earned people a ticket for seditious language? Shockingly, it wasn’t praising the kaiser – it was mouthing off to police.
“Gender reveal parties, the pointless trend in which expectant parents think up increasingly bizarre ways to communicate to their friends and family whether their baby will have a penis or a vagina, would be harmful even if one wasn’t responsible for the 10,000-acre El Dorado fire currently burning in San Bernardino.” On top of this line being great, the headline to this piece is one I desperately wish I’d written myself.