Though folks who read only the print version of The San Diego Union-Tribune won't see the story, good for reporter Craig Gustafson for his online coverage of remarks San Diego City Council President Tony Young made to City Councilmember Carl DeMaio on Monday. Gustafson didn't stop at simply quoting Young; he corrected DeMaio's false statement.
At Monday's City Council hearing on putting operations at Miramar Landfill out to private bid, DeMaio seemed to assume—incorrectly, as it turned out—that his colleagues would kill the proposal to open the landfill to managed competition and snottily said that the council was poised to renege on promises made during last year's debate over a measure to raise the local sales tax. DeMaio said the measure, Prop. D, included a provision to open certain landfill operations to managed competition, and, therefore, those council members who supported Prop. D but didn't support Monday's proposal were not behaving with integrity and were being controlled by their puppet masters in the public-employee unions.
Councilmember Todd Gloria was quick to correct DeMaio, noting that Prop. D called for the city to request private proposals to essentially buy the business of the landfill, which the city's already done, receiving no offers. Then Young took over, calmly but assertively telling DeMaio that he doesn't appreciate DeMaio's attacks on his colleagues and attributing DeMaio's smug comments to his “ambition.” Young noted that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to criticize the proposal to open landfill operations to private bidding. In the end, Young voted with DeMaio. Only Gloria, Marti Emerald and David Alvarez voted to stall the process. The proposal to move forward passed.
Together, Young and Gloria made the case that we've made before: DeMaio, running for mayor and reportedly polling well at this early stage of the campaign, is on a crusade to privatize government and has repeatedly shown willingness to lie or misrepresent the truth in order to get what he wants.
We thank Gustafson and the U-T for informing those who didn't watch the meeting.
And while we're praising the U-T, kudos to reporter Christopher Cadelago for staying on top of the SD SAFE story.
CityBeat's Dave Maass was the first reporter to bring to the public's attention the concerns of San Diego City Councilmembers Lorie Zapf and David Alvarez, both members of the San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies board of directors. The agency controls the system of roadside call boxes countywide, and Alvarez and Zapf want funding of it suspended. The agency's drawing far more money than is required to administer the program, and the surplus has become a sort of slush fund.
Cadelago took Maass' original story and ran with it, this week reporting that the agency's payments to the private company that handles the system's day-to-day operations—TeleTran Tek Services—are increasing as demand for the services is decreasing. TeleTran Tek Services is run by Eddie Castoria, who also serves as SD SAFE's executive director.
We eagerly await the legislation that state Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher has said he'll introduce to reform the way the statewide system is funded and how it operates. A spokesperson for Fletcher said Tuesday that Fletcher is working closely with Alvarez and Zapf and plans to introduce a bill after the next legislative session begins in January.
Finally, if we had a third thumb, we'd turn it upward for the coverage the U-T has given to the U.S. Census Bureau's release of national, state and local poverty statistics. Two weeks ago, the agency reported that the national poverty rate increased from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010. Last week, we learned that poverty was up locally from 12.6 in 2009 to 14.8 percent last year.
Those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. The poverty line is about $22,000 for a family of four. In San Diego, a single adult can barely survive on that much money, let alone a family. So, the rate of people in severe distress in San Diego County is far, far higher than 15 percent.
Poverty is a story that needs to be told again and again—not just the numbers, but also the lives behind the numbers. We hope the U-T continues to cover it.
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