Roundtable: Border Agent Shooting; SD Economy Improving; Salk Fundraising; La Jolla Cove Stinking
Originally published November 16, 2012 at 11 a.m., updated November 16, 2012 at 2:55 p.m.
Katie Orr, KPBS News
JW August, 10 News
Eric Anderson, KPBS News
Gary Robbins, U-T San Diego
Lisa Halverstadt, Voice of San Diego
Border Agent Had Influential Friend: More information continues to trickle out about the career of the federal agent who shot and killed a mother of five in Chula Vista a few weeks ago.
Despite more than one abysmal evaluation for abuse of power from his supervisors in the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department, Justin Tackett was hired by then-Congressman Duncan Hunter as a community liason for his office during the 2003 wildfires. Hunter then recommended Tackett for a job as a Border Patrol agent.
On September 28, Tackett killed a single mother of five in Chula Vista while serving a federal warrant on another person. Hunter told 10 News that he was aware of Tackett’s troubles in the sheriff's department, but said his parting from Imperial County was “like a divorce between a man and a wife.”
San Diego Economy Showing Improvement: There are several signs that things are looking up for the San Diego economy.
The number of homes sold in San Diego County rose by 31.3 percent in October, and home prices rose by 11.1 percent, according to DataQuick, a real estate information service.
Gas prices continue a downward trend, falling for the 37th consecutive day on Thursday. The average price dropped 87.9 cents over the last five weeks after rising 54.7 cents over the previous six days to a record high of $4.725 on October 8.
And the number of small businesses sold in San Diego County this week topped the sales totals from the previous three years. Sales totals in August, September and October all posted year-over-year gains, and November is tracking ahead as well. Increasing sales of small businesses is regarded as a positive economic indicator.
Salk Institute Looking For Research Funds: Struggling with a nationwide slide in available research funds, the world-famous Salk Institute in La Jolla has begun its first-ever fundraising campaign. The 53-year-old institute hopes to raise $300 million to support its research projects.
The “quiet” part of the campaign has already raised $140 million. Salk is still operating in the black, but has a modest endowment of $200 million. Ten years ago, two-thirds of Salk’s federal backing came from the National Institutes of Health. Now it’s less than half. The NIH budget has been flat for several years, but the institute is receiving a record numbers of applications, which affects many local institutions.
Sequestration, or the combination of automatic across-the-board budget cuts and tax hikes that could come in January, might affect the NIH budget even further. In addition to Salk, most San Diego-area universities and research institutions will be affected by any further cuts.
La Jolla Cove Stinks: La Jolla homeowners are upset and restaurants and hotels are losing business—to the birds.
The bluffs around La Jolla Cove have long been fenced off to people, allowing cormorants, seagulls and pelicans to have the place to themselves.
The birds have, of course, been doing what comes naturally. That is, pooping up a storm. And the smell carries for a mile or more. The conditions are further ripened by the hot weather this summer and lack of rainfall.
Doing something about it will not be easy. The cove is one of 34 state-protected areas of “special biological significance” and therefore subject to a Byzantine amalgam of regulators, including the Coastal Commission, the state's Water Resources Control and the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.