San Diego CityBeat Blogs - Last Blog on Earth | News http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/blogs-1-1-1-16.html <![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:
... NFIB accepted a $3.7 million gift in 2010, and a further $1.4 million in 2012, from Crossroads GPS, a group affiliated with Republican political operative Karl Rove that overwhelmingly endorses and financially supports Republican candidates. According to tax documents, NFIB also received $1.5 million in 2012 from Freedom Partners, a behind-the-scenes organization that has been described as the "Koch brothers' secret bank".
And, in July, the New York Times looked into a TV ad sponsored by the NFIB, finding that the nonprofit is good at moving money around via a "complicated legal structure" that makes it tough to track exactly who its funders are.  ]]>
<![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.

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<![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.

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<![CDATA['Hammer' Jones is reporting to prison today]]>

Here's an update to this week’s cover story in CityBeat about Lorne "Hammer" Jones, written by the author of the story, Andrew Gumbel:

Lorne Jones, the convicted former customs inspector whose case is subject of CityBeat's July 30 cover story, is reporting to federal prison today, more than three weeks ahead of the self-surrender date of Aug. 22 imposed by the San Diego District Court, and will serve no more than one-third of the time to which he was sentenced in March.

“I’m tired of fighting,” Jones told CityBeat from Reno, an hour’s drive from the Herlong Federal Correctional Institution, where he has been assigned by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). “There’s things I could still do, but I just want this to be over.”

Jones said he believed he was innocent of the charges on which he was convicted. He was further upset that the BOP was assigning him to a medium-security facility when a sentencing agreement worked out with the prosecution last month—and since made public by the court in an amended judgment—specifically called for the low-security prison at Taft, in Kern County, which is several hundred miles closer to his family in San Diego.

The amended judgment is dated July 11, the date of the hearing that Jones and his lawyer were clearly preparing for, and it cuts his time from 90 months, or seven-and-a-half years, to 30 months, or two-and-a-half years. Technically, he’s now sentenced to serve 30 months on each of the two counts—conspiracy and attempted marijuana-smuggling—on which he was convicted, but the agreement makes clear the two sentences are to be served concurrently.

Jones said he expected to be out in less than two years, allowing for time served after his arrest and before he made bail, and assuming he wins credit for good behavior.

The reason why his sentence was abruptly cut by two-thirds, even though he waived his right to appeal, remains shrouded in mystery. Nominally, the reason for the reduced sentence was Rule 35 (b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which refers to a circumstance in which a defendant offers “substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.” But a legal source familiar with the case told CityBeat the reason was something more unusual, “like lightning striking”—curiously, the very phrase the government used at trial to describe one of its strongest pieces of circumstantial evidence.

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<![CDATA[What prompted advocates for juvenile detainees to file a complaint against San Diego County]]> Dave Maass contributed to this post.
Earlier today, the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center (YLC) and a coalition of nine civil-rights groups announced that they'd filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over pepper-spray abuses in San Diego County juvenile-detention facilities. The 34-page complaint, which follows CityBeat's reporting on the excessive use of pepper spray in county juvenile facilities, highlights dozens of troubling examples of the chemical—also referred to as OC (oleoresin capsicum)—being used indiscriminately on kids who posed no physical threat to staff.

More than 70 percent of juvenile-detention facilities in the U.S. forbid the use of pepper spray on detainees. But, as we reported in a longer story on the complaint, "... probation staff sprayed youth at risk for suicide; youth who simply were disobedient; youth with respiratory, cardiovascular and skin problems; and youth being treated with psychotropic medication." The complaint highlights, too, probation's use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment—a practice that's been widely condemned by experts—as well as cases where suicidal female detainees were ordered to strip naked in front of male staff, a violation of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. 
The complaint asks the DOJ to conduct its own investigation of the probation department's policies and procedures governing the use of OC spray and require probation to "adopt policies that eliminate the use of OC spray in its juvenile facilities."
Through a public-records request, Youth Law Center obtained two years' worth of incident reports from county probation. Below, we've included, verbatim from the complaint, summaries of some of the more troubling incidents. ]]>
<![CDATA[UC San Diego's Books for Prisoners downgraded to a storage closet]]>


Volunteers with Books for Prisoners are trying to figure out how to cram dozens of boxes of donated books—tomes that had once filled more than 600 square feet of space—into a storage room one-sixth that size. The UCSD student-run group, which, since 2001, has provided prison inmates with free books, was told last month that they had to vacate the space they’d been using for almost six years.

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<![CDATA[San Diego's frozen funding pipe]]>

It’s no secret that San Diego needs all the help it can get when it comes to repairing aging water pipes and sewer lines. With more than a billion dollars in unmet infrastructure needs, officials have been looking under every couch cushion to keep the disrepair to a minimum.

What might seem odd, however, is that the city has ostensibly given up access to tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure grants and loans provided routinely by the state. Despite warnings from Sacramento officials, in June 2012, San Diego voters passed a ballot measure, Proposition A, that’s in direct conflict with state law.

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<![CDATA[Bonnie Dumanis releases controversial letter, takes shots at the media]]>

This morning, KUSI aired a live interview with District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, during which she discussed a controversial letter of recommendation that she wrote for the son of Susumo Azano, who’s been charged by federal authorities with making illegal contributions to Dumanis’ campaign for mayor of San Diego. Azano’s son was seeking admission to the University of San Diego.

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<![CDATA[Affordable-housing compromise proposed]]>

The San Diego Housing Commission next week will propose to the City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee a new plan for funding affordable housing and making market-rate housing cheaper.

Here's a draft of the report that will go to the committee. CityBeat will follow up with some analysis of the details soon.

The proposal stems from a battle earlier this year: The City Council passed an increase to a fee that developers of commercial properties pay to help finance affordable housing, but opponents of the fee—calling themselves the Jobs Coalition—waged a successful campaign to get a referendum on the ballot to repeal the increase, and the City Council conceded defeat, repealing its own ordinance.

The plan is being billed as a compromise between the Housing Commission, which spearheaded the effort to increase the affordable-housing fee, and the Jobs Coalition, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer is on board.

“I promised to bring housing advocates and the business community to the table to work on a compromise and that’s exactly what happened," he said in an written statement provided by a spokesperson. "This deal strikes a fair balance that provides more funding for affordable housing without stifling economic development.”


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<![CDATA[Fighting human trafficking in secret]]>

One of San Diego County’s most touted advisory groups has failed to follow state open-meeting laws.

Since its inception in June 2011, the San Diego County Regional Human Trafficking and CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Advisory Council hasn't posted agendas or made its meetings known to the public, Steve Schmidt, spokesperson for county Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office, confirmed Tuesday. No information about the advisory council’s meetings can be found on the county’s website; nor is any information listed on the "Committee Fact Sheets" web page.

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<![CDATA[Faulconer's 2015 budget included money for homeless 'triage beds']]> When the city of San Diego's homeless shelters close on Tuesday, July 1, gone will be 24 so-called "triage beds" where outreach workers—like Kelly Knight with Downtown's Clean & Safe program and the San Diego Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team—have been placing homeless folks temporarily until a more permanent bed can be found. The triage beds are reserved for people at risk of illness, injury or worse should they remain on the street. ]]> <![CDATA[Smile, you may or may not be on camera]]>

To the chagrin of the ACLU of Southern California, a new San Diego Police Department policy on body cameras released Wednesday would give officers discretion over when to record an encounter.

The ACLU took issue with several provisions in the new policy, but perhaps the most concerning to the civil-rights group was a stipulation that reads: “Generally, officers should not record informal or casual encounters with members of the public.”

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<![CDATA[Todd Gloria compromises on minimum wage]]> What a difference a few days—and a few bucks—makes. On June 5, Harry Schwartz, who owns the Gaslamp Ace Hardware, offered up his storefront for a joint Chamber of Commerce / San Diego County Taxpayers Association press conference to point out flaws in a proposed local hike in the minimum wage. Schwartz said that his business, which already pays workers above the state minimum, wouldn't be able to absorb any additional increases. 
Today, Schwartz was at City Hall to support of a scaled-back wage-increase proposal by City Council President Todd Gloria. ]]>
<![CDATA[District Attorney's office won't release Azano letter of recommendation]]> Earlier this month, District Attorney candidate Bob Brewer asked a federal judge to release a letter of recommendation that DA Bonnie Dumanis wrote on behalf of Edward Susumo Azano, the son of a wealthy Mexican businessman at the center of a campaign-finance scandal. The letter, dated Sept. 28, 2012, and written on official District Attorney letterhead, was addressed to University of San Diego president Mary Lyons; it had been sealed as part of the U.S. Attorney's corruption probe. ]]> <![CDATA[Law enforcement review board finds deputy error in inmate suicide]]> In the last nine months, the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB), the independent oversight body charged with investigating deaths-in-custody and allegations of law-enforcement misconduct, has twice found that San Diego County sheriff's deputies violated policy and procedure in instances of inmate suicides.]]> <![CDATA[Susumo Azano apparently promoted Dumanis on both sides of the border]]> In late May 2012, when District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was running for mayor, this flyer hit the streets, promoting Dumanis' election on one side and, on the other, "Coed Thursdays" at Belo, a now-closed Downtown nightclub.]]> <![CDATA[Ed Harris, you've been Zapfed!]]>

Nobody blames a candidate for wanting to win, but have we abandoned all decorum for the sake of a little extra camera time? Maybe so.

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