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

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

GUESTS

David Rolland, San Diego CityBeat

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego

Brad Racino, KPBS/I-Newsource

Transcript

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.

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

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