Roundtable: Mayor’s Race Gets Ugly; Port Gets Tenant; Escondido Gets Rights Issue
Friday, August 17, 2012
Katie Orr, KPBS News
Brad Racino, KPBS/Investigative Newsource
David Garrick, North County Times
The (Very Loud) Mayor's Race: For city with a laid-back reputation, the San Diego mayor’s race has become unusually toxic.
A debate this week between Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner became a platform for accusations of misconduct. It was followed by a press conference or two proclaiming the other side's outrageous conduct, followed by counter-charges of even more outrageous conduct.
There is a lot of yelling. And it’s only August.
The damage to Balboa Park’s lily pond seems to have set off this latest round of bombast, which shows no signs of slacking off. In the meantime, city business is getting done. The mayor's office announced a tentative, interim agreement with city labor unions over the 401K plan, ending the hiring freeze.
Dole Promises To Love San Diego For 25 Years: The commissioners of the Port of San Diego approved a deal this week granting Dole Fresh Fruit Company a 24.5-year lease to export and import fruit at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal downtown.
Some business interests decried the long-term lease, including the UT San Diego ownership and editorial board, saying the city would reap much more benefit if the land were used for a stadium/convention center and hotels and decrying the speed at which the lease was arranged.
Under the terms of the lease, the Port will invest $7 million in power equipment to service Dole’s vessels and up to $8.5 million for cranes. Dole will pay $1.7 million/year through 2017, $1.7 million through 2022; $1.96 million through 2027 and market rates after that.
Other fees paid by Dole (wharfage, dockage and crane rates) will start at $1.8 million this year, about 10% less than under the existing lease.
The Port says Dole indirectly employs 78 people, including mechanics, truck drivers and clerks.
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Escondido Has Election Issues: Escondido is a city of about 145,000, of which 49% are Latino. Latino voters, however, make up only 20% of the electorate. Just two Latinos have been elected to the City Council since 1888.
A group filed a lawsuit in December, alleging that Escondido is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. Without the resources to fight the suit or to file a suit of its own against the state statute Escondido (reluctantly) has decided to put a charter change allowing district elections before the voters in November.
The city assumes that if the new charter passes, the lawsuit will go away. But the plaintiffs have said that a key condition of dropping the lawsuit is being able to help re-draw the boundaries of the city council districts.
Two of five Escondido city council seats are up for election this November. Seven candidates have qualified for the ballot.