Roundtable: Officer-Involved Shooting; Chargers; More Money, Less Traffic?
Friday, August 26, 2016
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The aftermath of an officer-involved shooting
In April 2015, San Diego Police officer Neal Browder shot and killed a mentally ill man in the Midway area.
Fridoon Rawshan Nehad was reportedly waving a knife, but all he had was a pen.
Ruling the shooting was justified, the district attorney declined to prosecute Browder. The public never knew what sort of discipline he received within the department — until now.
Because Nehad's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Browder, Voice of San Diego was able to obtain Browder’s sworn deposition in that suit.
In the deposition, Browder acknowledged making several mistakes, including not turning on his body-worn camera, not turning on the squad car's red and blue lights and not announcing himself with the vehicle's megaphone.
Browder was put on administrative duty but was back on patrol within a month of the shooting. He received no additional training, no reprimand and no negative comments in his annual performance review.
He was never interviewed by either the district attorney's office or the San Diego Police Department's internal affairs.
A 2015 third-party review initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice found systemic problems in the way San Diego Police disciplined officers, including inadequate supervision and not holding officers accountable.
Chargers defend stadium plan against negative reviews
There is no shortage of opinion about the viability of the Chargers plan to build a combined stadium and convention center in downtown San Diego.
The city's independent budget analyst says that November's Measure C, a proposed hotel room tax increase from 12.5 percent to 16.5 percent, would actually pay for the structure. That's provided the cost estimates are accurate, and nothing — like a sudden attack of frugality among tourists — goes wrong.
Chargers spokesman Fred Maas says the tax increase will provide a big financial cushion to cover cost increases, and the team has included contingencies, like a recession, in its modeling.
An analysis by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association is more negative. It shows "significant" and "unacceptable" risks to the city because the group believe the tax increase will bring in $406 million less than needed. The city would have to cover the shortfall or have its credit rating suffer.
Maas said that position is nonsense, and that the Chargers have absolutely no intention of spending one cent of the city's general fund.
Finally, the hotel industry has let it be known they believe the stadium/convention center would just not generate enough business to justify an increase in the hotel tax.
The Chargers have thus far persuaded local Democrats and Republicans to remain neutral.
Will more money mean less traffic?
The San Diego Association of Governments, a group representing all the cities in San Diego County, agrees on one thing at least.
In November, SANDAG wants San Diegans to vote yes on Measure A, the half-cent rise in the sales tax that will fund transportation projects and roads for the next 40 years.
Measure A is a compromise between those who want more spending on roads and highways and those who want more public transit and amenities like bikeways.
One of the group's major sales pitches is that the funds generated will be used to relieve traffic congestion, no doubt an appealing thought to commuters stuck on southbound Interstate 5 in the morning.
The question, says Voice of San Diego’s Fact Check, is how long will the relief last?
There is evidence that if roads are improved to accommodate more traffic, there will eventually be more traffic.
A University of Pennsylvania study gives three reasons for this: Drivers determine their routes based on traffic, so if there's a lot, they will find other ways to get where they want to go. If there's less, they will fill the gaps. Commercial traffic — trucks, vans, etc. — will increase if there’s more room. And more people will move here, and they, too, will fill up the roads.
But what happens if we do nothing? Improvements in congestion may simply mean that traffic won’t get as bad as it would have without them.
SANDAG said its main goal with Measure A is to reduce the number of miles the average person drives.
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