Roundtable: Mass Shootings, ‘Categate,’ Transparency Law, Jury Trial For Homeless Man
Friday, October 6, 2017
Photo by Chris Carlson / Associated Press
Las Vegas Shooting, Leaked Memo, Transparency Law, Homeless Jury Trial
Tony Perry, former bureau chief, Los Angeles Times
Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News
Brad Racino, senior reporter, inewsource
Bianca Bruno, reporter, Courthouse News
AN AMERICAN SHOOTING
Another day, another mass shooting in America.
This week’s shooting in Las Vegas, though, was the winner in a macabre sweepstakes. It superseded last year’s mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando to become the deadliest in modern American history.
Stephen Paddock managed to kill at least 58 and wounded more than 500 using a device called a "bump stock," which increases the number of bullets a semi-automatic weapon can fire.
On Monday, the 275th day of 2017, there have been 273 incidents logged as mass shootings by gunviolencearchive.org.
Steve Inskeep pointed out Wednesday on NPR that many of the Americans who support gun rights believe that this kind of event is just something we have to live with, to accept as the price of freedom.
Many officials, including the president of the United States, his press secretary and some Republican members of congress said early on that this was not the time to talk about gun control.
Others posted on Twitter that the gun control argument was over when nothing was done after the killing of 20 children at Sandy Hook. Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel said the argument seems to be that the founding fathers wanted us all to have AK-47s.
The conversation had shifted somewhat by Thursday, with politicians from both sides of the aisle, along with the National Rifle Association, saying it could be a time to discuss devices to make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic.
–Is the gun control debate really over?
–Do we have to accept these events as part of life?
–Do incremental actions to control guns have a chance?
THE DA STEPS THROUGH 'CATEGATE'
San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate said at a press conference this week that he was the one who gave the city attorney's confidential memo on the SoccerCity initiative to FS Investors, the measure’s proponents.
The City Attorney’s office on Tuesday said the Public Integrity Unit of the District Attorney’s office was investigating the leak.
Three months ago, City Attorney Mara Elliott said that the leaker should resign.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that if the leaker was on his staff, he or she would be fired.
Cate said he did it because he wanted clarification and input from FS before the City Council vote on the SoccerCity initiative.
And besides, he said, there was nothing “substantially different” about this memo from the one the city attorney released to the public earlier.
Cate made his admission this week because of a lawsuit filed by attorney Cory Briggs seeking release of the memo through the California Public Records Act.
Cate is up for re-election in 2018.
–Is the district attorney investigating because the city attorney can't investigate her own client?
–What was the actual harm to the city?
TRANSPARENCY LAW MAY BECOME CLEAR
A law known as “Mandatory Disclosure of Business Interests,” passed by 86 percent of city voters in 1992, came about after San Diego nearly went into a $47 million real estate deal with an alleged mobster.
The law — Section 225 of the City Charter — was meant to make business between the city and private companies more transparent by mandating disclosure of the names and business interests of everyone involved in business with the city.
But the law was deemed vague and unenforceable. And so it wasn't enforced.
Over the years, three different city attorneys recommended the language be cleared up, to no avail.
Reporting by inewsource last year seems to have started some movement in that direction. The mayor's office directed all city departments to comply with the law by following a rule of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Several city council members have expressed interest in fixing the law.
A new ordinance addressing deficiencies in the law will go to the Rules Committee’s Nov. 1 meeting. A charter amendment may be headed for the ballot in November 2018.
–Did the fix take so long because city government is not amenable to transparency?
–Why did the city ignore the recommendations of three city attorneys?
A HOMELESS MAN'S JURY TRIAL FOR SLEEPING ON STREET
The opening two sentences of Bianca Bruno’s story reveal what made the situation unusual.
“It took a city attorney, police officer, public defender, activist and a judge to get a man a spot at a homeless shelter in San Diego this summer. It also took a jury trial and 12 citizens finding the man guilty of two counts of illegal lodging and encroachment to pull those resources together.”
The section of the municipal code under which Richard Stevenson was arrested was intended for residents who leave trash cans out long past trash day.
Most of the homeless arrested under this law show up for their court date, plead guilty and are sentenced to probation and a stay-away order.
Stevenson, arrested at 5:45 a.m. on April 5, decided to fight the charges in order to tell his story.
He was represented by a public defender during his one-day jury trial, which raised again all the issues related to homelessness in San Diego that have been in the news for the last several years.
Stevenson has now found a room to rent for $200 per month south of the border in Rosarito.
–Is it common for police to arrest those sleeping on the street 15 minutes past the cut-off time?
–Do these arrests and stay-away orders accomplish anything?
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