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Roundtable: Jail Deaths, Peace With TMD, City Attorney’s Court Record, Transit Security Update

Evening Edition

David Rolland, the editor of San Diego CityBeat, talks to KPBS about their investigation into prison deaths in San Diego County.

Aired 3/29/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


David Rolland, San Diego CityBeat

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego

Brad Racino, KPBS/I-Newsource


SD County Jail Death-Rate High: The mortality rate for San Diego County jails is considerably higher than for other large jail systems in California and the U.S.

San Diego CityBeat reporters Dave Maass and Kelly Davis collected data from 2007 to 2012 for California’s 10 largest jail systems. San Diego County had the highest average mortality rate: 202 deaths per 100,000 inmates.

Sixty San Diego County jail inmates died in custody:

  • Most were substance abusers.
  • 31 were classified as natural deaths.
  • 16 were suicides.
  • 5 were homicides, including 3 inmates killed by deputies.
  • The 8 accidental deaths were drug-related.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department disputes the U.S. Department of Justice's method of mortality-rate analysis and prefers the less-accepted “at risk” rate, where the San Diego County system comes out better-than-average.

The Sheriff’s Deptment has been less-than-transparent with the media on this topic and others and does not acknowledge that the death rate is a problem. The department also regularly declines recommendations for change made by the San Diego Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board.

Peace Between Mayor, Hoteliers: Just before peace broke out on Thursday between Mayor Bob Filner, the San Diego City Council, the Tourism Marketing District and the City Attorney, several events conspired to keep the story a moving target for reporters.

Tourism Marketing Timeline

November 2012

City Council approves 40-year TMD deal

February 2013

Filner outlines new deal

Filner, Council Goldsmith meet

TMD says layoffs imminent

TMD files suit

March 2013

March 17 - Filner proposes new guarantees for city

March 21 - Judge rules for Filner

March 26 - Council orders Filner to sign agreement

March 27 - Filner accuses council, Goldsmith

March 28 - Compromise agreement among all parties

The tentative, not-fully-worked-out-yet agreement was preceded by charges from the mayor that most of the council, along with the city attorney, had been "bought off" by hoteliers, and counter-charges that the mayor had stepped over the line.

Just two days before (on Tuesday), the San Diego City Council voted six-to-one to instruct the mayor to sign the TMD agreement the council had renewed in November.

Filner had been refusing to sign it, saying the agreement was for too long a period and was a bad deal for the city.

The TMD filed a lawsuit to compel the mayor to sign the agreement and release funds for advertising. Filner said no way.

A judge said the mayor was within his rights not to sign.

The City Council voted to order him to sign.

Filner said he was this close to a revised agreement with the TMD when the council acted.

Charges and counter-charges ensued.

Peace broke out late Thursday, and a revised agreement is in the works.

In the meantime, a far less dramatic event was playing out in the City Council District 4: Myrtle Cole (32.87 percent of the vote) and Dwayne Crenshaw (15.31 percent) topped the field of nine primary candidates for Tony Young's seat. The run-off is scheduled for May 21.

How Good is the San Diego City Attorney?: The case of the falling palm tree, the tourism marketing fiasco, the loss of the Plaza de Panama project, loss of funds for Qualcomm Stadium redevelopment, attorney’s fees for accused pension officials, the Prop B lawsuit and the potential loss of coastal fireworks shows -- all negatives so far in the city attorney's balance sheet.

Some of these cases are on appeal and may be resolved in the city's favor. Meantime, Voice of San Diego is asking whether these cases are symptoms of an office that fails on big issues, or is the jury still out?

In any case the results – or lack of them – have been expensive for the city and beg the question of the real role of the elected city attorney.

Transit Investigation Results In Hearings: Last month, KPBS and I-Newsource investigated allegations of dangerous working conditions and poor or non-existent training for armed security guards on both the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District trolley and bus lines.

The boards of both transit systems met last week with executives from Universal Protection Service, which provides the private security guards, to address some of the investigation’s findings. Results and remediation are decidedly pending at both agencies.

Evening Edition

Claire Trageser, a reporter for KPBS, talks about the dispute and final resolution over a hotel fee in San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | March 29, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

How about a collaborate Investigation with statements from State Attorney General Kamala Harris on the City AND County of San Diego violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act and HEARTH Act?

May 21, 2010 Legal Memorandum to the CCDC Pages 31 to 37.

California State law (Health and Safety Code Secion 33021.1) that helps finance homeless solutions was reinterpreted in San Diego to forbid $1 Billion in former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment (TI) for use by Homeless Emergency Shelters and the social services within the Shelter

The results of the purposeful misinterpretation of State Redevelopment law, is that 60 San Diegans die due to homeless every year. Last year, an infant died because of lack of local funding sources, such as former RDA TI. The City Attorney's Legal interpretation in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor was a - Contributing factor and used as a example to get rid of Redevelopment descretion statewide.

- 33021.1. In a city and county, redevelopment includes improving, increasing, or preserving emergency shelters for homeless persons or households. These shelters may be located within or outside of established redevelopment project areas. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, only redevelopment funds other than those available pursuant to Section 33334.3 may be used to finance these activities. -

The City AND County San Francisco used over 50 percent of former RDA TI on Affordable Housing and Homeless solutions, instead of the 20 percent minimum Affordable Housing set aside. In 1991 in the name of the poor, the City AND County of San Francisco had Section 33021.1 passed so that any money spent on Homeless solutions was in addition to the 20 percent minimum Affordable Housing, not part of the 20 percent minimum.

The Redevelopment Agency of the City and County of San Francisco has determined that an essential step toward the elimination of blight is improving, increasing, or preserving emergency shelters for homeless persons or households. Because of the serious impact of homelessness in San Francisco, it is essential that the law clarify that for the City and County of San Francisco, funds other than those available pursuant to Section 33334.3 of the Health and Safety Code can be used to accomplish these goals. In the City and County of San Francisco, the provision of emergency shelters for homeless persons or households is essential to the elimination of blight within established project areas.

However, nothing in this act or Section 33201.1 of the Health and Safety Code shall be deemed to authorize or limit, or in any way modify any authority of a redevelopment agency, other than a redevelopment agency in a city and county, to improve, increase, or preserve emergency shelters for homeless persons or households, either inside or outside a project area, from funds available pursuant to Section 33334.3 of the Health and Safety Code or any other source.”

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 29, 2013 at 1:37 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

I am DISGUSTED and SICKENED by those jail statistics.

I hope San Diego's mainstream right-leaning media is covering this important story (the UT and the non-KPBS local networks).

This should not be something that only media outlets with qualified journalists like KPBS and CityBeat should be concerned with, this is something even the fluff media like the UT and KUSI, etc. should be on.

The County Board of Supervisors, a CRIMINAL organization as far as I'm concerned (no I'm not being overly-dramatic, research them on the internet - Bill Horn alone has violated many laws and never been tried) and now we see they are abusing human rights in prisons like some rogue gorilla-warfare stricken country.

And now the Sheriff's department wants to sweep this under the rug.

Absolutely, unequivocally appalling!!!!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 29, 2013 at 1:39 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

How Good is the San Diego City Attorney? the story asks?

I would rate him about as high as Judge Gary Kreep.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 30, 2013 at 8:28 a.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

I question the security of our prison system if so many inmates have the access to enough drugs to overdose with. Eight people died from drugs. The environment is not as secure as it should be. Is it just the lack of controls, or crooked guards??

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | March 30, 2013 at 10:29 a.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

Our jailers need to be held accountable for not keeping drugs out of the jails. And the homocide deaths should be looked into as well. America has the highest number of its citizens incarcerated per capita in the world, which means we have to rise above being a prison nation and held accountable for what goes on behind bars.

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