2014: A Year in Review

File picture Julian Fire

File picture Julian Fire

Sep. 25, 2014 (San Diego) trying to cull out what were the important stories of the year is not easy. Some are easy. The May series of Wildfires affected an urban area near the coast. It was a wake up call for many coastal San Diego residents. A wild fire is not just going to happen in the East County.

It was also a test, which the county passed, on a series of coordinated responses, led by CAL-FIRE. While it did turn lethal, with the death of a homeless man at the Cocos Fire, it thankfully did not lead to many deaths or injuries, thought there were homes lost. It was costly, and one of the lessons learned include the use of San Diego City night fighting capable helicopters (for a fee of course) in other cities and unincorporated areas. This is after these helicopters took to the firefight during the May Fire at night.

Raise Up San Diego

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While San Diego’s working poor did not yet get a raise, the discussion is very much on. The moderate wage hike that the good folks at the Center for Policy Analysis, and the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice fought for, was that, moderate. Labor and multiple community partners, including the business community in the form of Mel Katz, joined them.

Among them was also former Council President Todd Gloria, who took on the powers that be. Some suspect he was punished for doing this by losing his seat as president of the council, though remains in the council representing District 3.

This raise would have translated to an economic stimulus of $250 million for the local economy, which would have helped our local economy grow faster than it is. Maybe the data coming from other regions is starting to wake up our very conservative establishment. Maybe the fact that even WalMart is increasing their base salary will have an effect. Cities and states with higher minimum wage are doing better economically, and fighting this will only delay that growth.

Part of the battle is the integral Fight for $15 movement which is not going away.

Rabbi Laurie Coskey and Pie

Rabbi Laurie Coskey and Pie

During this fight There were moments of great political drama, including pie for council. This was courtesy of Rabbi Laurie Coskey. We checked, it was classic apple pie, what else would you give council? I guess the only thing missing was the ice cream.

The Taxi Medallions limits are removed:

Speaking of the working poor, Sarah Saenz, the hard working members of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, and the whole council said yes. If you want to own your own taxi, here are the keys. This will give an opportunity to hard working taxi drivers a chance to own their own vehicle. Saenz said that the Union, which has joined the Labor Council, would help drivers with financing.

Council member Scott Sherman and Council Member Marti Emerald were thanked and surrounded by pretty emotional drivers. Sherman also quipped that now came the hard part, run their own business. So next time you take a taxi in San Diego, your driver might very well be self-employed. Many are, but the numbers will go up.

Yes, this change is a big deal, for all of us.

Black Lives Matter

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Out of tragedy comes change. This is a story that did not start in San Diego. It started in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri where a police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18 year old African American male. If the story did not have as many contradictions and internal issues (including officer Wilson not filing a police report) perhaps we would not be having this national conversation. Then there was the case of Eric Garner in Staten Island, who was choked to death. Garner was also African American, and both Grand Juries found both officers to have done nothing wrong.

In San Diego there have been marches, and silent demonstrations. There was also disruption when demonstrators took interstates, and we look forward to the coming year and what it might bring reform wise. We look forwards to policy makers and demonstrators coming together and hammering out changes in policy that are necessary. They are critical if trust in the courts and law enforcement are to ever come back from the basement.

There is also the down side, during the silent protest when Council Member Lorie Zaft was inaugurated, her staffer, Shirley Owen, was overheard by a KPBS reporter saying, “they were f—ing idiots, and “I wanted to shoot them.”

This morning, while checking the council member’s staff page for spellings, Owen is gone. We wonder at Reporting San Diego if she was let go quietly? If this is the case, well, good going council member, you did the right thing. Why do it in a way where obviously you were hopping nobody would notice? Why the secrecy? Here, is the link for you to go look for it. Given it is the legislative break, we do not expect to get confirmation from the office.

End of an Era in La Mesa

 

Art Madrid and La Mesa go together. He has been the mayor for so long that when he was defeated in November; this came as a surprise to some observers. We at Reporting San Diego wish the former mayor a good retirement.

This new era in La Mesa also includes term limits, which will forever change the politics in that small city, which would still like to behave like a village. Change is coming, and the question is how fast and how hard?

The First Amendment at El Cajon

We at Reporting San Diego covered a story that seemed to come and go. The Council is planning on leasing the East County Performance Arts Center to The Rock, a Christian ministry. The challenge on this, which we expect to see in years to come, will be on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

This will be one to watch in years to come. We expect to see it take it’s gyrations and perhaps legal challenges. We expect Ray Lutz to take it as far as necessary. He is not one that will give up easily.

 

International Stories:

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There were three international stories of significance for San Diegans. One was the Ebola crisis, which quietly goes on in East Africa, with Sierra Leone currently leading the numbers of active diagnosis. We at Reporting San Diego believe it had an effect in the elections after the first cases were diagnosed in the country.

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The ongoing war in Iraq and Syria and the rise of the Islamic State has led to the first genocide of the 21st century. We talked with Ben Kalasho about this back in September, and at the time he spoke of conditions that are not unlike those of the early holocaust.

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Finally, Mexico, right by our border, but not well covered. Mexico is undergoing the kind of changes that might lead to revolution. The deaths of 43 students in Guerrero (I Know they are still classified as missing), is the last straw that finally broke that camel’s back. Next year we expect a lot more news from Mexico. Some of it will affect many San Diegans since they have family. But in the bigger picture, this will affect US-Mexico relations and the border region.

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So as 2014 fades into history, we can see that some of these events that started in 2014 will be consequential for years to come. We have the whiff of real change in the air, both in the United States and out. We also have the whiff of war, and genocide. 2015 might be one of those years, or the portents and rumors will be just that, portents and rumors. Time will tell.

Happy Holidays and have an excellent year from all of us at Reporting San Diego.

Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

Facebook: Reporting San Diego

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Update: The present story was corrected for a few grammar errors.



Categories: Year in Review

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