2015: A year in Review
Dec 29, 2015 (San Diego) another year has passed and we have had a few surprise. Some were pleasant and some not so much. So pass the envelope… please.
The San Diego City Council and whose who in San Diego politics…
Climate Change is a reality and one that is now fully at the center of San Diego politics. The City Council passed the Climate Action plan on Dec 15, and it commited the city to the following major points:
Achieve 100% renewable electricity city-wide by 2035;
- Reduce energy consumption at municipal facilities by 15% by 2020 and an additional 25% by 2035;
- Achieve mass transit mode share of 12% by 2020 and 25% by 2035 in Transit Priority Areas;
- Achieve 15% urban tree canopy coverage by 2020 and 35% urban tree coverage by 2035;
- Divert 75% of solid waste by 2020 and 90% by 2035;
- Capture 90% of remaining landfill emissions and 98% of wastewater treatment gasses by 2035.
This was not a minor trick, or political undertaking. It was also an open recognition by a major American city that climate change is a scientific reality. So all members of the city council, the mayor, and all involved, including Nicole Capretz of the Climate Action Campaign, deserve to take credit for this.
This historic vote will have influence not just this year, or next., but for generations to come. This is not an understatement, and it is a major policy achievement.
Our runner up to this is actually our civil rights activists of multiple stripes. Whether they are the members of the Black Lives Mater movement, women occupy, The National Action Network, Housing advocates, community activist or even fair wage advocates. (And yes, I am sure we forgot somebody; so do take a bow anyway) You all have kept up with the causes that most people really think are so last year. Whether it is the reforming civilian oversight over the police, or getting code inspectors to do their job, or reminding us of the underlying racism in our society. Your job is not easy. It is truly a calling, But we need you. Keep at it.
Second Runner Up…
Assembly Member Lorena Gonzales. Not only is she an extremely hard worker, and always taking the causes that none would otherwise. (Yes our Charger Girls will get paid minimum wage starting Jan 1, but she also took on anti-vaccination activists, and she seems to have won. No, the initiative did not qualify for the ballot, that would have challenged that bill.
She was one of the people behind a bill that took exceptions to vaccinations off the books, well except for the only cause where it makes, sense: A medical exception. By doing that, children with leukemia that get those medical exceptions, or who are actually allergic to vaccine components, can attend school and be sure that other children were vaccinated. Yes, we all re-learned about herd immunity as well. It is a real thing. If it drops under certain critical numbers, like 90 percent, things like Measles tend to start to spread.
The County of San Diego
We would be remiss not to mention the county, which not only has lowered the number of youth entering the judicial system though diversion programs, but seems to have a pretty progressive program that is leading the way to reduce recidivism. When we all talk of mass incarceration and the reforms needed. We expect the county, quietly mind you, to continue to lead the way.
We expect to have more to say on that next year. And we do wish Probation Chief Mack Jenkins a very happy retirement. Thank you for your service Sir.
Every year we have bad things happen too, and the San Diego Police Department gets the award on this. Not only did they get named one of the most secretive organizations in this county by the Society of Professional Journalists San Diego Chapter this year, but they proved why as well. Well, with the help of the local District Attorney.
Not only were officers not turning their body cams on during critical incidents, and were justified by the brass, but they refused to release a security tape from a private camera when Officer Neal Browder shot Fridoon Neehad in the Midway district, The reasons given by the police chief included the fear of a riot.
This is one of the things for which San Diego’s finest are known for, and not having a citizen review board with teeth helps them to keep stonewalling. Oh the video has ben released, and it shed little light on the case, and strangely there has been no violence.
And for completeness sake, not surprisingly, Officer Browder was not indicted by the District Attorney, Nor was there any violence against the officer, his family or the department.
As we wrote in the past, if that was the only incident, as bad as it was, ok it’s a new policy, it happens whenever you implement new policies. It wasn’t; the second one happened in the Gaslamp district where officers once again did not turn their cameras.
On Oct. 20 Officer Scott Thompson, a 30-year veteran, and Officer Gregory Lindstrom, a 25- year veteran shot and killed Lamontez Jones, 39 year old. Yes, Jones might have been armed with a weapon and his record has appeared in local media. But we don’t have body camera footage of this incident either. So, we really do not know truly what happened and body cams were supposed to help us see the big picture.
Forget the issue of internal police department policy for a moment. As a tax payer I know the city spent about $4 million dollars for both devices and storage. This is not cheap. But we are not getting a return on that investment when the cameras are not on during critical incidents.
Yes, there has been a recent policy change that hints at anywhere from a slap on the wrist to firing if the cameras are not on. But the policy should be firing (other departments do that), unless there is an incredible large set of extenuating circumstances. We have read them, they make sense, and we are not going to give ideas to the department on what they are. They can read the same PERF report we did. Suffice it to say, as we covered earlier in the year, other departments have fired officers for not activating their cameras for far less critical incidents. How less critical? Nobody was killed. That is how far less critical.
This is not helping to increase trust between citizens and the police that is supposed to serve and protect them.
San Diego City Council, or the be specific the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee and the Charter Review Committee. They keep throwing back and forth the idea of a review of the citizens police oversight board. The citizens of San Diego passed one in the 1980s, that in the beginning seemed to have some teeth, but these days is a true joke. It is not me saying, it, but former members of the board, who were “troublemakers.” This was a Channel Seven exclusive that activists showed the full council on Dec 15.
We have more evidence of how dysfunctional this committee is, and how much it is there to protect the interest of the city of San Diego. We fully understand, the city does not want to pay awards for police behaving badly, So of course neither committee is doing it’s job.
Citizens have approached these two committees with one idea that makes sense. Have the system used at the county (it has more teeth) used as a model. In an age where there is little trust with the police, it makes sense to do things like this. Of course if this is done, the Police Officer Association will sue, as a Union should, but that is life. The Sheriff’s Office POA lost when they did the same in the late 1980s. So the precedent has been set.
There is more, police stop data. After it was found that there seems to be racial bias in traffic stops, we find it disturbing that the city stopped the analysis by San Diego State. We ran data our sources culled from the raw data, released by the city earlier this year. It does seem to confirm the racially bias stops.
For the record, citizens intend to put this on the ballot. Whether it will go well and voters will vote it in or not is a question. After all, we expect law enforcement to do all they can, including spending a lot of money, to prevent this. And if need be, to go to court.
Where this lands will be interesting since both the County and the City do not have public aspects to review boards, due to litigation.
Criminal Code 182.5
We spent more time than anybody should at your local Superior and Federal Court. Why? The District Attorney decided to go after young men, of color, for being part of a conspiracy, for which they needed no knowledge. Suffice it to say that the judicial system did not buy many of these cases, because they needed a primary charge. The primary change was a murder, that has yet to be solved. So in the end, those who did not plead anything, had those charges dropped.
While the DA has decided to essentially drop this kind of prosecution, this crated a whole slew of new activists, While this is a positive result, since it raise awareness, it also highlighted how the criminal justice system needs deep level reform. This law was passed though the initiative process, because the Assembly would not do it. It needs to be scrubbed from the books. It is part of the thought law and order codes that have led to the crisis of mass incarceration.
Incidentally, next year we expect to do more policy of the criminal justice system.