San Diego CityBeat Blogs - Last Blog on Earth | News http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/blogs-1-1-1-16.html <![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. 
It's all part of a larger federal initiative called 25 Cities that emphasizes better coordination among service providers and using data to help target those services. As a first step, over the last few months, volunteers in San Diego have surveyed more than 2,200 unsheltered homeless folks and are using that information to not only match up people with housing, but also determine where there might be gaps in services. (A HUD analysis conducted last year, for instance, suggested San Diego has too many short-term beds and not enough permanent housing units.) Since August, 112 people, 44 of them vets, have been placed in permanent housing, paid for with federal vouchers; others have been hooked up with case managers who'll help them find appropriate housing. 
"This is a very data-driven initiative," says Michael McConnell, the 25 Cities San Diego team leader, "looking at who the people are and what their needs are."
McConnell is also part of Funders Together to End Homelessness, a group of philanthropists who, on Tuesday, announced a grant of $200,000 to continue 25 Cities San Diego's work. McConnell says a next step will be using data from the surveys to determine roughly how many people need to be housed each month to meet the goal of ending homelessness. 
"We're going start using that in the next 100-days phase," he says, "really drilling down on what we need to do."

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<![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.

Expecting to send its 911 service out to bid this September, the city extended its contract with ambulance provider Rural / Metro through June 30. However, entering into a new contract by next summer now looks increasingly unlikely.

At a minimum, the state’s decision will delay the ambulance RFP by “a matter of months,” Scott Chadwick, San Diego's chief operating officer, wrote in the memo. “In a worst case scenario, the state’s decision could impact the city’s ability to determine how its paramedic services will be provided and under what financial terms.”

Based on a 2010 appellate decision concerning Butte County, state officials have taken a hard stance on which entities can issue RFPs for ambulance service. In San Diego’s case, the state Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) has said that only the county-run local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) can issue the RFP.

With the city's support, the county appealed the state's decision on Aug. 29. The state’s Commission on Emergency Medical Services will make the final determination. No date has been set for a hearing.

Craig Gustafson, spokesperson for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, issued this statement to CityBeat:

“Mayor Faulconer strongly believes that a spirited competition for the City’s ambulance contract can lead to better response times for San Diego neighborhoods and lower costs for taxpayers. He urges state authorities to reconsider their decision so that the City can put its contract up for competitive bid and allow San Diegans to decide which provider can best serve San Diegans in the future.”

In 2011, following allegations that Rural / Metro embezzled more than $17 million from the city, officials dramatically restructured the ambulance provider's contract and prepared a competitive-bidding process.

By 2012, then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ staff had completed an RFP document but never released it. Then, when Mayor Bob Filner took over, he further delayed the process to consider allowing the San Diego Fire Department to bid.

If the county takes over the process, it’s unclear if a new RFP document will need to be drafted.


Write to joshuas@sdcitybeat.com and follow him on twitter @jemersmith.

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<![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.

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<![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.

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<![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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