Roundtable: Faulconer’s Win; Sex Crimes & SDPD; Surveillance in San Diego
Friday, February 14, 2014
Aired 2/14/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News
Mitch Blacher, 10News
Dave Maass, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Kevin Faulconer's Victory
San Diego City Council member Kevin Faulconer got an early Valentine’s Day gift from San Diego voters. On Tuesday, they wrapped up the mayor’s office for him in a race that was not even close: 55 to 45 percent.
The brief campaign was expensive and ended up ugly, with many millions spent on attack ads and nasty mailers. The conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego County had a featured role in the campaign, launching what some called racist attacks on Faulconer's opponent, City Councilman David Alvarez. And several San Diego County unions spent bushels of money dumping dirt on Faulconer.
The questions for Monday morning quarterbacks are many:
Why did Democrats jettison Nathan Fletcher for the young, inexperienced and relatively unknown Alvarez?
Why was the turnout south of I-8 so low, especially in Alvarez' district?
Besides applauding neighborhoods, what were the candidates actually for?
And what will happen when the City Council appoints someone to fill Faulconer’s seat?
Another SDPD Cop Arrested
First it was Officer Anthony Arevalos, convicted in November 2011 of sexually assaulting five women during traffic stops. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Controversy erupted when it was reported that the San Diego City Attorney's Office accused one of Arevalos' victims of bribery and also put her under surveillance.
This week another SDPD officer, Chris Hays, was arrested on charges of felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor sexual battery in connection with four women. Since his arrest, more women have come forward. The SDPD had been looking into the allegations since late December.
Some are starting to wonder if these are isolated incidents or if there is something amiss at the SDPD.
There are more than 1,800 officers in the SDPD, but the department is struggling to keep its best young officers from leaving, and back-to-back scandals won’t help. In the city of San Diego, there is no independent auditor of police practices with any clout. The Citizen’s Review Board on Police Practices makes recommendations but cannot enforce them.
Money, Politics and Surveillance
Dave Maass, then a reporter for San Diego CityBeat, was the first to notice (May, 2012) that a Mexican national, Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, had contributed $100,000 to Bonnie Dumanis’ 2012 mayoral campaign through a PAC. The PAC’s fundraiser told Maass that Azano had a green card, and the contribution was legal. He didn’t, and it wasn’t.
Maass left CityBeat before the fundraising scandal he uncovered blew up. He has since become an investigative researcher for the Electronic Frontier foundation, which surveils the world of electronic surveillance.
San Diego, says Maass, is becoming the advance guard of the surveillance state, helped along in this endeavor by SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments, a regional planning agency.
San Diego law enforcement departments are experimenting with automatic license plate readers (ALPR), digital cameras mounted on patrol cars and fixed locations that record plate numbers for every car that passes. SANDAG is the repository for all that digital information in a huge database it maintains and the subject of a lawsuit asking for access to that information.
SANDAG is also using federal funds to experiment with a facial recognition system, which can match faces to mug shots or driver's license photos. It has provided 175 mobile facial-recognition devices to local law enforcement agencies, according to Maass.