What We Learned This Week - Voice of San Diego

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What We Learned This Week

An Oceanside police vehicle / Photo by Megan Wood

One sentiment I heard a lot over the summer – often when people were posting Adriana Heldiz’s amazing shot of a particularly packed Black Lives Matter march as it cascaded down University Avenue – was: “I’m so proud of my city!”

On its face, it was a sweet compliment. But there was also some pretty obvious subtext: San Diego was finally showing up. San Diegans were finally making something happen. The inference was that this was an unusual turn of events.

The reason for pride and hope, though, seems to keep dimming each time our leaders are faced with an actual decision on police reform – the cause all those people packed the streets in support of.

There was, of course, the epic, confounding decision by a supermajority-Dem City Council to increase the San Diego Police Department’s budget amid calls to do the exact opposite.

There was San Diego Unified, also led by Democrats, which gave an infuriatingly paternal response to community calls to re-evaluate its police force: “I can guarantee that the process we go through in our district is not a process that’s intended to delay change,” trustee Richard Barrera told KPBS. “It’s a process that’s intended to make sure the change is the right change.”

There was spectacular failure of another supermajority-Dem body, the state Legislature, to pass several police reform measures, including a bill to automatically decertify officers who commit serious misconduct.

“In one of the bluest states in the country, all indications pointed toward action on reform. But in the end, even here, it was essentially business as usual in a State Capitol where police unions have long wielded enormous power,” one New York Times columnist wrote.

This week, even given all the country has gone through over the last few months, VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez reported that Oceanside had been prepared to hire a new police chief from internal candidates only and with no community input until it was called out by community groups. The city hadn’t even planned to give its search the veneer of inclusivity – let alone actually be inclusive.

It wouldn’t be fair, of course, to say that nothing has happened. The San Diego Police Department and others quickly agreed to ban chokeholds, a reform advocates had sought for years. The city budget did include money to create a new agency dedicated to race and equity.

But on the whole, even modest reforms or gestures toward inclusion have largely failed.

What will it take to be as proud of the leaders who make these decisions as we were of the protesters who came out to demand them?

Sustained pressure, and enough money to counter the power law enforcement groups have been able to buy themselves across the state.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Have you heard that things, are not, uh, going smoothly for schools amid coronavirus closures?

That is also true of school sports, and Ashly McGlone found a wild story within the Patrick Henry High School cheerleading team. And one school board member touted that a silver lining of distance learning was better access to AP classes. The real story is far less rosy.

On the podcast, we discussed county supervisors’ bizarre insistence that SDSU students shouldn’t count toward San Diego County’s coronavirus totals.

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If I know anything about San Diego water policy, it’s that we’ve pumped billions of dollars in recent years to secure our own drought-proof water sources. So why are we ignoring one right under our feet?

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Political news this week landed at both ends of the spectrum – that is, there was the deeply nerdy and bureaucratic drama over at SANDAG, and there was batshit homophobic mud-slinging over a new state law.

What I’m Reading

“Also, I am sick of media bias. Journalists never quote the president saying anything that makes him look good or sound competent. But just statistically a person must sometimes sound at least kind of competent.” – You would think.

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