San Diego CityBeat Blogs - Last Blog on Earth | News <![CDATA[Judge rejects county's request for new trial in Daniel Sisson case]]> In November, a jury found San Diego County liable in the death of Daniel Sisson, a 21-year-old inmate in the Vista Detention Facility (VDF) who died in his cell on June 25, 2011, from an asthma attack made worse by heroin withdrawal. Despite a requirement that jail staff conduct hourly inmate-welfare checks, at least three hours passed between Sisson's death and when he was found. Jurors awarded Sisson's parents $3 million based on findings that two jail nurses were "deliberately indifferent" to Sisson's medical needs and that the Sheriff's Department's policies on heroin detox and inmate monitoring were inadequate. CityBeat reported on Sisson's case in April 2013 as part of our ongoing series on deaths in San Diego County jails. 
After the verdict, the county requested a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the evidence didn't support the jury's finding of deliberate indifference—and that it was Sisson who turned down a scheduled medical appointment and wasn't showing any outward signs of failing health. County attorneys also claimed that jury instructions were confusing and that Sisson's parents lacked the standing to recover damages; compensation for a jury finding of wrongful death is only available to a decedent's heirs. 
Chris Morris, the attorney for Sisson's parents, countered that jail staff were well aware that the young man was facing a double threat of heroin withdrawal and asthma and, therefore, should have placed him in VDF's medical unit, where he could have been monitored more closely. In a response to the new-trial request, Morris pointed out that one of the county's own expert witnesses, Dr. Paul Adler, testified that in the Ventura County jail system where he works, detoxing inmates have their vital signs checked daily, regardless of the level of withdrawal. And, in her testimony, a VDF nurse agreed with Morris that chronic opiate use "poses a specific particular risk" for an asthmatic. 
As U-T San Diego's Kristina Davis reported, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant on Jan. 22 rejected the county's request for a new trial, ruling that the verdict was sound and the argument that Sisson's parents lacked standing "was brought up much too late in the case and 'looks suspiciously like sandbagging' because the county didn’t like the jury’s verdict," Davis reported.
The county has 30 days from the Jan. 22 ruling to file an appeal, though, as Morris told CityBeat, "the judge, by making the findings that she did, made it very difficult for them to get an appeal."
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<![CDATA[What Donna Frye said at yesterday's anti-Carl DeMaio press conference--with video!]]>

During his tenure on the San Diego City Council, rarely did Carl DeMaio not have his laptop open during council meetings. Was he taking notes? Being eco-friendly by not printing up docket material? Maybe. But it was pretty well-known that he was also working on personal business. Staffers would even take covert cellphone photos of DeMaio's laptop screen. But no one would talk about it on the record—until yesterday, when former Councilmember Donna Frye brought it up at a press conference during which she urged voters to pick incumbent Rep. Scott Peters over DeMaio for the 52nd District congressional seat. Frye mentioned it in response to U-T San Diego reporter Mark Walker asking her to expand on a comment she'd made about DeMaio exhibiting "behavior unbecoming of a public servant."

<![CDATA[Gag rule proposed by Civic San Diego board chair]]>

The war among Civic San Diego’s board of directors continues. On one side, there are those who want elected officials to closely regulate the city-owned nonprofit. On the other, there are those vying for as much autonomy as possible.

The most recent salvo came from board Chair Cynthia Morgan, who last week proposed a gag rule for board members.

<![CDATA[Former DeMaio deputy campaign manager says Todd Bosnich was not fired for plagiarism]]> To swat down allegations that he sexually harassed former staffer Todd Bosnich, Carl DeMaio has insisted that Bosnich is retaliating after being fired for plagiarizing a May 12 report on congressional pensions. 
Bosnich has countered that he was fired because he confronted DeMaio on his inappropriate behavior and refused to accept $50,000 in hush money.
Earlier this week, Alison Rentschler, who worked as DeMaio's deputy campaign manager for several weeks this past spring—before leaving to work for the San Diego County Republican Party—sent CityBeat a statement, saying that Bosnich "is an honest and trustworthy person" who wasn't fired for plagiarism. CityBeat gave the DeMaio campaign a day-and-a-half to respond, but received no comment. Here's Rentschler's full statement: ]]>
<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio campaign submitted fake letters to the editor]]> Carl DeMaio's bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Peters was, not too long ago, described by national media as historic, with DeMaio vying to be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. But instead, his campaign is fast devolving into a sad spectacle. ]]> <![CDATA[Offensive email from Carl DeMaio targets Scott Peters' campaign staffer]]> Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio wants voters to know that he's down with the whole women's rights thing: access to birth control, equal pay, etc. But, behind the scenes, if you're a woman he disagrees with, you could be the subject of ridicule.
On Jan. 22, DeMaio sent an email to two members of his staff, campaign spokesperson Dave McCulloch and then-policy director Todd Bosnich (Bosnich has accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him and trying to buy his silence). The email's subject line is "Kate Lyon" and includes a photo of an overweight woman wearing a bra and eating what looks to be a Twinkie chicken nugget. (The woman in the photo is not Lyon.) Based on the email's metadata, it appears to be authentic. ]]>
<![CDATA[Todd Bosnich didn't go to CNN or police with harassment allegations against Carl DeMaio]]> In a CNN story last week about allegations that he'd sexually harassed Todd Bosnich, his former policy director, Carl DeMaio claimed that the "troubled" young man had gone to the media as retribution for being fired.  
But, save for a June 2 interview with KFMB's Mike Slater that never aired, Bosnich didn't go to the media. It was CNN who contacted Bosnich about the alleged sexual harassment, said his attorney, Bibi Fell. ]]>
<![CDATA[DeMaio accuser: 'It would have been much easier... just to remain silent']]>

On June 2, the day before the primary election, Todd Bosnich recorded an interview with Mike Slater, a talk-show host on conservative radio station KFMB. Bosnich is the former policy director for Carl DeMaio's congressional campaign and has alleged that DeMaio sexually harassed him. In an interview that aired Friday on CNN, Bosnich said that when he told campaign manager Tommy Knepper about DeMaio's behavior, he was offered $50,000 and a job with the San Diego County Republican Party in exchange for his silence. He rejected the alleged offer. 

Last week, Slater told Voice of San Diego's Scott Lewis that the interview never aired because Bosnich wasn't able to provide "further proof" of his allegations against DeMaio. CityBeat obtained a copy of the interview, which you can listen to here.

<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio's claim that Scott Peters supports Medicare cuts undermines his own platform ]]> A press release from Carl DeMaio's congressional campaign this morning criticized incumbent Rep. Scott Peters for voting in support of more than $700 billion in cuts to Medicare. The release is vague on details, saying only that Peters "has repeatedly supported the implementation of H.R. 3590." 
H.R. 3590 is the Affordable Care Act (the press release strategically fails to say so). Peters wasn't in office when the ACA become law in 2010. And while he does support the law's continued roll-out, he says on his website that the the ACA's still "a work in progress." He's voted in favor of some ACA-related legislation like the "Keep Your Health Plan Act" and a bill to extend the open-enrollment period. Peters also co-sponsored a bill to repeal the ACA's medical-device excise tax
So, does the ACA include $700 billion in cuts to Medicare? Republicans say yes and have used it repeatedly to attack Democratic opponents. In February, and July, and September—and back in 2012multiple times—Politifact examined the claim, finding it, each time, to be "half true" (or, in the case of Paul Ryan's version, "mostly false") and seriously in need of context. 
"Some political talking points just never die," wrote Politifact Deputy Editor Louis Jacobson in September.  ]]>
<![CDATA[How San Diego's using technology to solve homelessness]]> It's been almost a decade since San Diego set a goal to end chronic homelessness, but two vital components in that effort are now in place: a coordinated assessment tool that will help determine what kind of housing and services a person needs and a software system that will allow homeless-services providers to share information in real-time and move people into beds as soon as they become available. ]]> <![CDATA[San Diego homelessness services providers get on the same (virtual) page]]> A year ago, when I interviewed Kelly Knight, homeless outreach coordinator for the Downtown San Diego Partnership's Clean & Safe program, she lamented the fact that there was no central database she could use to help connect clients with beds. Providers like Knight will tell you that if someone's willing to accept help—especially someone who's chronically homeless—it's important to get them hooked up with shelter right away. Here's an excerpt from that story: ]]> <![CDATA[Ambulance selection on hold, yet again]]>

After being on hold for more than two years, the city of San Diego’s competitive-bidding process for 911 ambulance service looks like it’s headed for yet another delay.

In August, state officials declined to approve the city’s formal request for proposals (RFP), saying county officials must perform the process, according to a memo released by the city Tuesday.

<![CDATA[San Diego City Council calls on mayor to release Climate Action Plan]]>

Council Republicans called it “unfeasible” and “meaningless," but on Monday, the Democratic-controlled City San Diego Council passed a resolution telling Mayor Kevin Faulconer to cough up a draft of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which activists have said is long overdue.

<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio staffer deletes Twitter account ]]>

Beware what you post on social media, especially if you plan to get a job in politics. And if you're a candidate, make damn sure your staff's vetted the social-media accounts of anyone you're planning to hire. Carl DeMaio's campaign, and the guy hired to be DeMaio's regional political director for his bid for congressional (DeMaio's trying to unseat incumbent Rep. Scott Peters in the 52nd District) learned that the hard way.

<![CDATA[Lawsuit filed in the death of Bernard Victorianne]]> Attorneys for the family of a man who died in a San Diego County jail two years ago filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court today. Among other points, the lawsuit argues that jail staff were "deliberatively indifferent" to the medical needs of Bernard Victorianne, a 28-year-old African-American man who was found dead in his cell on Sept. 19, 2012, the result of a meth overdose.]]> <![CDATA[Carl DeMaio gets endorsement from 'small business' group tied to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers]]> When incumbent Congressmember Scott Peters got the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's endorsement last week, Carl DeMaio—the former San Diego City Council member who's challenging Peters for his 52nd District seat in November—shot back, describing the Chamber as a "special interest group." (The Chamber, in turn, shot back in a series of tweets about how DeMaio had "actively sought" its endorsement.)
Today, DeMaio's campaign announced the endorsement of a group called the National Federation of Independent Business. A press release said NFIB appreciates DeMaio's "record of fighting 'for the little guy' on important business and job creation issues." 
DeMaio's been trying to fashion himself into a moderate Republican, last week announcing his—as he tweeted— "women flexibility proposals" (which, we blogged, Planned Parenthood took major issue with). Getting an endorsement from NFIB ain't gonna burnish his moderate cred, either. According to Sourcewatch, NFIB's received millions from groups tied to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers: ]]>
<![CDATA[Mayor's office to Cory Briggs: You could've asked!]]>

Blasting the allegations as “not founded in reality,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s green-visor brigade on Friday struck back against claims by attorney Cory Briggs that the city is failing to properly disclose the extent of San Diego’s deferred-maintenance obligations to regulators and the bond market.

<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio jumps on the women's-issues bandwagon]]> In a National Journal profile in July, author Winston Ross wrote that Carl DeMaio viewed social issues as "a foolish distraction from the mammoth task of reforming government." Indeed, this position helped DeMaio dodge tough questions when he was a City Council member and when he ran for mayor in 2012. From Voice of San Diego's Sarah Libby:
He was the only one in last year’s mayoral race who didn’t fill out Planned Parenthood’s candidate questionnaire, though the group sent it to him twice.... ]]>
<![CDATA[Priorities unknown]]>

Of the thousands of cases referred every year to regional prosecutors, which get pursued and which get ignored? It’s a standard question that many crime journalists fresh on the beat start with. Veteran editors often tell cub reporters to request from an office a list of all referred, as well as prosecuted, cases categorized by crime type.

This way, reporters can see if any types of crimes are being ignored—especially tough-to-prosecute offenses that might mar an office’s statistics.]]>
<![CDATA[Top city planner Bill Fulton resigns]]>

Confirming months of rumors, Bill Fulton, planning director for the city of San Diego, submitted his letter of resignation, according to a memo released Friday by Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office. Hired last summer by then-Mayor Bob Filner, the city’s top planner will step down Aug. 30 to take a position as the director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston.