Roundtable: Hotel Tax Judged; 10 Years In Iraq; Some Homeless Housed; Padres Fans V. Broadcasters.
SAUER: I'm Mark Sauer. Thanks for being with us. Reporter Brad Racino with Investigative Newsource joins me. RACINO: How are you? SAUER: You've got an update on a story you broke and covered on the Roundtable about inadequate training and equipment for private guards along the San Diego trolley system. Seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. Something did happen this week. RACINO: Sure. Friday night at the Chula Vista trolley station, around 11:00, there were four armed security guards who we had been looking into, covered last month during our investigation. And while they were fare checking passengers, they were approached by a group of men who didn't take kindly to them being on what they called their station and property. They got into an argument, and a few minutes later, they pulled up alongside these recovers and opened four. The trolley station was packed, there were four buses and the trolley loading at that time. These guys hit the ground, drew their gun, advanced and the car, and by that time, the car had gotten away. SAUER: How did the story that MST officials told their board differ from what occurred? RACINO: We got a memo from MST Monday afternoon describing the situation. And it was just four lines, and it said an officer reported hearing shots fired near the McDonald's. SAUER: It seems misleading at best. RACINO: Well! SAUER: It speaks for itself. What's the official response? RACINO: We haven't gotten any response from MTS. I heard from Todd Gloria's office that he plans to bring this up during the next board meeting. Other than that, we haven't heard anything from anybody SAUER: Has there anyone movement toward change? RACINO: Last month, four board members brought up our story and investigation and asked for answers and more information during next month's board meeting. They wanted assaults against officers crime stats, training methods, everything documented and presented to them during the next meeting. SAUER: And I'm sure you're going to stay with this story. RACINO: Oh, yeah. SAUER: Thanks very much. [[[NEW SEGMENT]]] SAUER: Our panel, joining me on the Roundtable, Dean Calbreath of the San Diego daily transcript. How you doing? CALBREATH: Pretty good. SAUER: Tony Perry, San Diego bureau chief for the LA Times. PERRY: Good to be here. SAUER: Dave Rolland, editor of San Diego City beat. ROLLAND: How are ya? SAUER: And Katie Orr, metro reporter for KPBS news. ORR: Hi, Mark. SAUER: So when is a tax not a tax? The San Diego City Council last year came up with a creative way to finance an expansion of the downtown Convention Center, set up a secret vote among hoteliers whether to raise the room tax on guests. Even city attorney Jan Goldsmith called it tax. If it's a tax, that would mean the public gets to vote on it, right? Not so fast. Dean, give us the gist of the plan that we're talking about to fund the expansion of the downtown Convention Center. CALBREATH: Yeah, basically the -- it's a group of hotels taxing itself to the tune of about $30 million a year. SAUER: Passing right onto guests. CALBREATH: Passing it onto guests, upping the guest rate by 1-3%. And they are using this money to build the Convention Center or expand the Convention Center, rather so we could continue bringing things like Comic-Con into San Diego. SAUER: So what were the issues raised in the Court case last week? CALBREATH: Well, the tax protestors like Melvin Shapiro who has regularly protested against this kind of thing. SAUER: Any tax. >> Any tax, yeah. And their protest was, listen, if you've got a tax under prop 13 and the laws passed since then, the public has to vote on it. But there is it an exception to that. It's called the Mello-Roos community facilities act. SAUER: Lovely name. CALBREATH: If a bunch of property owners get-together in a particular community, they can basically impose a tax on themselves without having everybody else in the community agreeing to that or disagreeing, whatever, without putting it forward on a vote. And then they could penalty a facility with that tax money. SAUER: Tony? PERRY: Is that how my community center in my suburb was built? Is this how Mello-Roos is usually used? CALBREATH: It's used to build community centers, water or sewage facility, new electricity, infrastructure. And there are a number of things it can be used for. It's basically building infrastructure in a particular neighborhood. PERRY: Was this a slam dunk? Or are there appealable issues that will keep this thing in the courts forever and ever? CALBREATH: It will be appealed. And that process will probably take -- if it just goes through the Court of Appeals, probably about a year, a year and a half, the Supreme Court, maybe about three years. So it's not going to happen overnight. But I think this is a pretty major step. It was a pretty definitive finding by the judge. SAUER: Katie? ORR: Well, I think this is interesting on one level. On the one hand, people are concerned because you're basically giving private companies the ability be to raise a tax, and to build things that they want. But on the other hand, some people would say it's a creative way for the city to finance something now that redevelopment is gone. Redevelopment was the cash cow that careful San Diego and a lot of other cities really counted on to be able to get these big projects built. And once it went away, a lot of people were sort of looking around saying now what? We're seeing things like the Convention Center facilities district. From that perspective, it's interesting. MAUREEN SAUER: Creative people finding creative ways to live in the postredevelopment world. ORR: Yeah, other people say you're taxing us, and we don't get a say on it. SAUER: Dave? ROLLAND: I wanted to correct something about Mel Shapiro. He's not an antitax Crusader like Richard wright. He's a gad fly, but he typically gets involved when he thinks that government is not working legally. So that's why he got -- SAUER: That was his issue. >> That's a valid point. ROLLAND: And it's also important, I think for listeners who might be cob confused about this, are we talking about that thing where Bob Filner won't sign that document and -- [ LAUGHTER ] ROLLAND: There's two things going on right now. And it's largely driven by the same group of people. It's hoteliers that have imposed assessments on themselves to pay for two different things. One, the one we're talking about here is the Convention Center expansion. And the other one is to fund tourism marketing. As Katie says, government needs money for all kinds of things. So these are two ways to pay for two different things. And they're sort of similar. They're similar issues, but their legal structures are a little different. And this one as we're talking Bit's paid through property owners, the ones who voted in the Convention Center tax. And the other one is hoteliers paying, although it's really the hotel guests that are paying, but it's based on revenue. PERRY: What about the battling Bob Filner? Is he involved in this issue? Has he taken a stance? And if not, a major issue Bob is not involved? Can this be? [ LAUGHTER ] ORR: The Convention Center, he was saying during the election that he was not opposed to the expansion of the Convention Center. He didn't like this form of paying for it. But I think it's also important to mention that the city is the one that initiated this case because they asked for the validation ruling last spring, I believe. As Jan Goldsmith has said, this is a gray area in the law. So they wanted that validation to make sure that they could go forward with it. And I haven't heard Bob Filner weigh in on the validation hearing. ROLLAND: I think he thinks both of them are illegal for basically the same reasons. He thinks both of them should have been voted on by voters. CALBREATH: On the other hand this particular one is one that both the businesses and the unions are behind. The unions are looking forward to more construction jobs. ORR: But we should note that the unions only got on board when they created a -- they didn't call it a PLA, a project labor agreement. SAUER: But it walked and walked like one. ORR: And they agreed not to sue when they got that PLA. CALBREATH: So I think that takes away a lot of motivation for Bob top involved. It happened when it was not on his watch. He wasn't required to sign off on it like he was required to sign off on the tourism marketing district. So I think that's why he's been able to stay on the sidelines on this. SAUER: Dave? ROLLAND: The big question here, and we'll credit Scott Lewis for writing an interesting piece about it in voice of San Diego, is the slippery slope. He laid out some scenarios where -- and I was actually talking to a city official yesterday who expanded on this idea, what's to stop if both of these things are determined to be legal by judges? What's to stop a group of restaurant owners from tacking on 2% on your restaurant bill in order to pay for something that they want? And what's to stop them from weighting, not waiting, the vote when they get-together and vote on these things? Both of these issues that we're talking about were weighted votes where some hotels got -- had a whole lot more voting power than others. SAUER: Right. Scott noted that in his column. PERRY: But isn't the difference that this is for the "public good?" This is a public facility as opposed to a bunch of Chinese restaurants getting together. ROLLAND: But you can't make that argument legally because I think once you make that argument legally, then you've -- undermined the whole point and you got to go to the public. ORR: Right, the fee has to be directly beneficial to the people that pay it. The thing I think is interesting, I believe it was Lori wise berg from the UT had a great article about how Jerry Sanders could not have signed the final TMD operating agreement before he left office. If he had signed that, this thing with Bob Filner not releasing the funds wouldn't be an issue. And everyone was pointing their fingers, oh, it was this person's fault. Bottom line, it didn't get signed before he left. And now the hoteliers are in the situation they're in. SAUER: Another example is the long fight by the Chargers to get a new stadium. And he used that example as well. Do you think -- that's been described as a blow to the Chargers. CALBREATH: The reason it was described as a blow, I think short-term the Chargers might have been thinking okay if this thing falls apart, it means maybe they won't be spending money on this Convention Center but they can spend money on us. But I think long-term it points a way for the Chargers to work with the hotelier, other businesses and form a Mello-Roos that would provide for a new stadium. SAUER: How likely is that? We'll have to see. Do you think this really is the remanents of the redevelopment creative people trying to find ways to resurrect things that once were there and are no longer? ROLLAND: Sure! ORR: Yeah, I think so. The city doesn't have enough money in the general fund to build all these projects that at the present times. So they have to come up with different ways to fund stuff if they want anything new. There are people who argue you shouldn't build these things right now. Focus on building our roads and the economy and the tax base will give you the money to do that stuff. ROLLAND: And this is why this will have statewide implications. Especially if the judge -- if either judge comes down and says no, these were illegal taxes. If they're determined to be legal, I think it will go clear to the state Supreme Court because it will have statewide implications. SAUER: We're going to shift now from the Convention Center financing to accessing costs on a bigger endeavor, the war in Iraq. [[[NEW SEGMENT]]]. SAUER: I'm Mark Sauer, my guests are Dean Calbreath, Tony Perry, Dave Rolland of San Diego CityBeat, and Katie roar of KPBS news. Questions are many, saving answers are few when it comes to the Iraq war. It was launched ten years ago this month. The mission in Iraq originally was to make sure Saddam Hussein never used his weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were nonexistent. And while Saddam is dead, so are more than 4,400 Americans, 100,000 or more Iraqis, and Iraq remains in the grip of sectarian violence. Tony this was always a San Diego story because so many Camp Pendleton marines were sent there. Explain the local connection for us and how much Camp Pendleton was involved. PERRY: Sure. First conventional troops into Iraq when the president of the United States gave the order, marines from Camp Pendleton. Where they were greeted by seals from Coronado who had been there over the course of the war, 345 marine sailors from Camp Pendleton killed, 115 from 29 Palms. Ten times that many wounded. Push it forward, what did they accomplish? One of the first groups into Baghdad, one of the main forces in Anbar province, instrumental in turning that around. Historians will argue whether it was the army or the Marines. But they were both there, and the marines from Camp Pendleton were there when Anbar went from a lost cause to an example that, hey, it can work. So this was always a local story from day one to day last. As Afghanistan as also been. But certainly this one. First and for many months. In fact, a couple of years, Camp Pendleton had the dubious distinction of having had more killed than any other U.S. military base. Advanced somewhat later by one of the army bases that's twice as large. But if you your it just by numbers, nobody served as much as this community did. SAUER: Now, there was a huge divide in this country before the war, during the war, even now, of course. How far do the Marines feel? Did that change over time? PERRY: Well, there wasn't a divide early on. In 2003, during the assault, the numbers were that the vast majority of Americans supported the war when they thought it would be quick and easy am SAUER: But not around the world. >> That's true. And the Marines were gratified by that. They had grown up with the stories of the miss treatment of the Vietnam veterans. Look at this public opinion poll, everybody is behind you. As the war drew on and public support dropped precipitously because of political questions that we'll get to in a moment, that happened. But what also happened is a maturity, I would suggest among the American public able to distinguish between the war and the warriors. We did not take out on the returning soldier, sailor, airman, whatever, the war and our differences with it as our political differences as we did in Vietnam. SAUER: So if there was an agreement, it was certainly support the troops. PERRY: Yes. SAUER: We've got a caller wants to join us. Josh from Point Loma. Go ahead. NEW SPEAKER: I just want to bring up, I know the question was the Iraq war worth it. Some people's opinions may differ. However, the cost that we're going to be paying for this, whether it's worldwide credibility, healthcare issues with people, physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I mean these are all things that we're going to be dealing with for generations to come. So it's a very high cost. And prior to that invasion, the unity after the 911 attacks that America had, and now how divided we are as a country. I just think that's something to think when you're asking that question. SAUER: Right. Thanks very much for that call. United we stand. PERRY: Historians and the think tank folks are fairly much on the side of it wasn't worth it, even Anthony Cordesman, this morning, retired military office, he said that it's been a strategic failure when you consider when we gained as opposed to what it cost. On the other hand, let's remember now, Iraq under Saddam Hussein attacked an American ally, Kuwait, threatened another American ally, Bahrain. Had terror camps that went into Israel and blew up buses and things. He it attacked the Kurds with biological weapons, he it toyed with nuclear. We caught him on a down cycle. But he wanted all of those things. And he is no more. And that's -- he also had a long war with Iran, that is now cooking on a nuclear bomb, we think. And if there had been another war down the road, who knows if they might use that? So that he is gone and his party and his sons, that's got to be a good thing. SAUER: All right. Andrew wants to join us from Ocean Beach. Go ahead. NEW SPEAKER: Great show as usual. My main concern is just that we can come up with all this money to fight for whatever reasons, but if Korea attacked us tomorrow, we would have billions of dollars dumped into that war to defend us. But for some reason we don't think education and employment is as urgent. And I think that's the way our country is built, by having educated people and employed people to create this great country that we live in. So why are we so quick to jump to war but so slow to bettering our own nation? SAUER: Thank you very much, Andrew. That does raise one of the issues here on cost. What were some of the things the United States might have done had we not put some people estimate up to $3 trillion into this particular war? PERRY: True. And the way we financed it, which was the economist will tell you, we borrowed. SAUER: And had we ever gone to war before and borrowed? PERRY: We tend to forget World War II, we actually had people buy bonds and stamps! We did a raffle, if you will! Incredible! CALBREATH: Every other war in American history, besides Vietnam, we actually raised taxes, as we went into the war, to pay off the war. Vietnam we actually -- prior to Vietnam for unrelated reasons we actually lowered taxes. Of as a result when Vietnam was over, we put the country into ten years of economic malaise. Here we've got a $3 trillion bill over -- actually up to $6 trillion over time. So right now we're looking at it about a $3 trillion bill. And that is -- that has blasted a whole in our economy. That's a reason we're in the economic malaise that we are right now. PERRY: Right. One of the reasons. CALBREATH: A reason. PERRY: The boys on Wall Street had something to do with this also. CALBREATH: But Wall Street financing, that financing was crucial to our financing of the war. The amount of money that we were selling overseas and bonds and things, the amount of derivatives, these were interrelated. The coming of the interest rates by the federal reserve which fueled the Wall Street collapse was actually totally related to our war effort. SAUER: And we should point out we not only did not raise taxes, we lowered them. CALBREATH: Yes, exactly. SAUER: Dave? ROLLAND: Andrew the caller brought up the age-old question when we talk about foreign policy and getting into wars. How can we always come up with the money to do this kind of thing when there are so many needs here at home left unmet? And it reminded me of course of Dwight Eisenhower's warning so many decades ago about the military industrial complex. You cannot have this conversation without thinking about the influence of military contractors and all the money that flows when we do this sort of thing. CALBREATH: I think the caller also brought up another point which was how it affects our standing abroad. I was in Cairo immediately after 911 when we were going into Afghanistan, and people understood why we were going into Afghanistan. Muslims understood that, that we were going after the guys who had attacked us. But we had totally alienated that kind of good will that we had at the time. And it cost us money to try to get that good will back! PERRY: Well, I'm not so sure about that. If you look at Iraq, at least at the beginning, there are a lot of Saddam's Arab neighbors who were either on the record and above ground telling us go for it or somewhat below ground, they couldn't say it publicly. So judging public opinion abroad of America is very difficult to do. And also we're into the woulda shouldas, if he had continued throwing scud missiles at downtown Jerusalem, what do you think that would have done both to our economy as we went to help our only democratic ally in that part of the world and what do you think that would have done to the region? The wouldas and the shouldas are very difficult in this, given how diabolical Saddam huSan's party was. CALBREATH: And didn't those scud missiles came after we -- PERRY: Indeed. CALBREATH: So we triggered that. ROLLAND: I'll throw another woulda, a question version of would have. Would have the American public and Congress approved of this war if the rationale had been simply Saddam Hussein is a bad man and the whole world would be better off without him? SAUER: And we can't forget Colin Powell's political theatre. PERRY: Did they tee up with false information? ROLLAND: They sure did. They used 911 as a pretext to go to war and then they ginned up the -- SAUER: And they had weapons perspectives in there. PERRY: Does that speak to the bush administration or the American public, our need for things to be referenced in a very simplistic fashion? If we talked in a larger fashion about the Middle East and the growth of -- or the continuing growth of terror nations or terror sponsor nations or dictators that don't seem to want to move over, if we would have talked in those terms, it would have been much more difficult. ORR: I don't think that's entirely on the media though. The administration was selling it in a certain way. This happened and we're going to go get revenge or whatever. SAUER: Yeah, the yellow cake and Colin Powell at the UN. ROLLAND: The aluminum tubes. SAUER: There was no end of it. CALBREATH: And in terms of oh, well, he has this record of gassing his people. Yeah, he did. Back in the Regan administration when we were friends with Iraq! When we sent people over to shake his hand! PERRY: We don't have friends or enemies in the world. We have interests. And our interests stay. CALBREATH: We have photo ops with the Secretary of Defense shaking hands with him. PERRY: It has to do with public policy and issues of war and peace, if you will, forward but being able to analyze them backward. Much more difficult. And we've never yet be in a war akin to World War II, "the good war" where we believe everything went well, all the strategy was smart and well done. That isn't true. SAUER: But the origin is clear, we were attacked. PERRY: The origin was clear although the point at which we declared total war on the Japanese and burned down their homes -- SAUER: No question. PERRY: Never debated publicly in this country. So we now debate things and look at things in a war we never have. And we may never have again the kind of unanimity. SAUER: Well, postVietnam -- PERRY: And there's a reason for this, there's 58,000 of those out of Vietnam. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. In the real world we may never again be able to go into a war because of the way things were bulloxed in Vietnam, and the way things look to have been bolloxed in Iraq. SAUER: And the vice president of the United States, Mr. Cheney, several years into it was still saying Saddam was connected with 911. A caller, Robert, go ahead. NEW SPEAKER: What I would like to see the United States do is empower the united nations and NATO to task with these interventions in other countries. The United States has made a few mistakes and cost us a lot of money. And has destroyed the credibility of the United States in some regards. PERRY: John Allen, the Marine general who ran all forces in Afghanistan till just recently was quoted the other day as saying it's going to be a long time before the NATO allies line up with us to go in after the -- Iraq and now Afghanistan. SAUER: We're going to have to leave it there. I appreciate it. We could go on for a while with this! Obviously a hot topic. [[[NEW SEGMENT]]]. SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable on KPBS. I'm Mark Sauer. My guests today are Dean Calbreath of the daily transcript, Tony Perry of the LA Times, Dave Rolland of San Diego City beat, and Katie Orr of KPBS news. San Diego once had its own world trade center building, downtown, 6th and B area. Now what was once a worn office tower is something else entirely. Dave, explain to us the overarching idea behind Connections Housing. What's included? ROLLAND: The overarching idea is one that has driven homelessness public policy for about ten years now, which is housing first, housing plus is what they call it. The idea is that you don't -- that a person -- a homeless person can attack the barriers that face them best if they are in a stable housing environment. So you find a way to get them into housing first. Then you help them with their various problems, be they addiction, substance abuse. Mental illness, legal trouble, whatever it is that's keeping somebody sort of on the margins of society. That's how you do it. Several years ago, amid an ongoing annual political problem that is known as the emergency winter shelter, a group of city officials got together and they had a permanent homeless shelter task force. And Connections Housing is the result of that. SAUER: I'm going to have you give us the details in a second. Tell us what this facility looks like now. ROLLAND: S 12 floors, I believe, and floors 5-12 are apartment units. Various sizes and shapes and designs. They're kind of designed into the corners, the interesting corners of the old buildings. So they're not -- it's not one size fits all. SAUER: Not one big dormtory. ROLLAND: Right. What is that? Eight floors. My math is -- SAUER: You're a journalist, of course! [ LAUGHTER ] >> And those contain 73 basically apartment units for really lack of a better way to describe it, the worst of the worst. The people who are most vulnerable. MAUREEN SAUER: Use the most services. ROLLAND: Essentially dying on the street and costing us the most money. SAUER: Folks in the mother-in-law rooms all the time. ROLLAND: And the criminal justice system. SAUER: For a long time, people who you didn't think you could get at. ROLLAND: The hardest to help. Then one floor each for men and women for interim housing. The there are 16 enclosed basically bedrooms without bathrooms and kitchens. And 134 beds that are sort of separated into kind of cubicle clusters like there's a cubicle with four beds, and so there are two floors of those for shorter term stays. And then on the ground floor, there is a health clinic run by family health centers, and below that in the basement there is what they are calling a depot. And it's kind of a strained train metaphor that they're using. But they've got all kinds of services to help people. SAUER: 1-stop service shop ROLLAND: Yeah, a salon, people to help you with mental illness referral, and actually the health clinic also does mental illness. SAUER: Basic finances. ROLLAND: Yeah, anything they think will help people get on a path to -- SAUER: Getting on their feet. ROLLAND: Yeah, to get out of that facility to more independent living so they can free up that space for other people. SAUER: Okay. Katie? ORR: Well, I have to say, following this story, I'm very impressed with how the organizers handled all of T. When they were first proposing this, it's in the heart of San Diego's financial district and a lot of people said you cannot put a homeless center in the middle of our financial district! SAUER: A lot of pushback. ROLLAND: A lot of pushback. There's a daycare across the street. People were mad! And then -- but the organizers told me they went around and they talked and worked with all these individual groups. And they addressed their concerns. And the people that they're actually serving are people who have basically been living on the street within a 6-block radius or something. And they know, they go out every day, and they monitor who is there. So you can't have someone from, like, North County come down and just expect to get in. They have a list. They know who their community is. And that's how they're working. And that's why they're very clear that it's not a solution. It's really a regional approach. But there are no lawsuit, which is rare for a project in San Diego! There are no fights now about not in my backyard. 600 people at this opening. So they were very successful. PERRY: And how is all of this going to be paid for? ORR: It's being paid for through the San Diego housing commission put up some money, the money that the city usually pays for the winter homeless shelter. SAUER: It's diverted to this? ORR: Yeah. They were actually -- got some funds from redevelopment before that went away. ROLLAND: The two largest sources of money for the construction was what used to be CCDC redevelopment money. They got in under the wire before that was ended. $15 million or something from CCDC, then another $15 million came from federal low-income housing tax credits. A little bit of money that the winter shelter funding is like $350,000. ORR: Yes. ROLLAND: They put that in. The housing commission through in another $2 million. Tony you were asking before the show, where is the funding coming from to operate it. And that hasn't come up, I hadn't really thought about that. Katie looks like she knows. But I think it's PATH. ORR: The people that live in the building -- SAUER: Tell us who PATH is. ORR: It's this homeless agency group. They run a similar thing up in LA. But the people that live in the building actually get Section 8 vouchers. SAUER: And that's federal assistance. ORR: Right. To cover their rent. And then they pay something like 20 or 30% of it on their own. So people that are living in the top floors are actually paying represent. PERRY: What percentage of our downtown homeless can be accommodated this way? SAUER: It's not going to solve the whole problem. ORR: No. ROLLAND: That's a very important question because as they were going through the approval process for this project, the mayor and certain members of the City Council and even path, I was looking in their frequently asked questions of literature about this, they say this is going to eliminate the need for the emergency shelter, this was never going to be true. That's room for 223 people under this roof. SAUER: And what was the most recent census of the homeless? ROLLAND: Well, I don't remember -- SAUER: It was it was something about 9,000. I think the ball park is just under 9,000. ROLLAND: You could say -- well, that's county wide. ORR: Isn't it like 4,000 downtown? ROLLAND: No, I think we're only talking about 1,000 people downtown. But the point is, there's not room in this facility for all of them. And the rationale was that this was going to be a model it's going to basically solve homelessness downtown, which was never going to be the case. And never they were going to replicate this facility in other neighborhoods. The problem is, there's no more money for any of these facilities anywhere. So we got to find a way. There's no more money for affordable housing of any kind statewide in the wake of the loss of redevelopment ORR: And we should say this place is, like, secure! You need key card, certain doors only open certain ways. You need access codes. There are different entrances for people staying in the interim beds and the people living in the apartments upstairs. So this is -- and this building actually worked really well for it. As Dave was saying though, it's not going to be easy to replicate it in neighborhoods like Northpark or -- PERRY: Can I go there and just flop down and live? ORR: No, no PERRY: Must I sin up for mental health, etc? ROLLAND: No, you don't have to sign up -- sorry, Katie. You don't have to sign up for any service or anything like that. The problem is space. It's all spoken for. PERRY: So I can just go flop there? ROLLAND: No, you can't because all the beds are spoken for. They're all taken up. So you have to get to a waiting list, and you have to demonstrate a real need. You have to demonstrate that you are chronically homeless, and you have severe problems. You don't have to -- the people who do get in do not -- there are no requirements to sign up for services. That's the whole point of getting back to what I originally said about housing first, housing plus. You don't have to jump through any hoops in terms of going to a certain amount of meetings or getting on medications. PERRY: Isn't that -- do we run a danger of it becoming as wicked people would say, a flap house? ORR: No, there are policies. There's a curfew, you can't be on drugs or alcohol when you're staying there. They do those kinds of checks. And you can't get in there unless you're on the team's radar. They have a team that goes out every day, and they monitor those -- SAUER: The chronic folks. ORR: But it's like it's a 6-block radius around there, and they know the people that are living in that area. And those are the guys that go on the list. And you can't -- they maintain you cannot come from North County and just sleep on their doorstep and they give you a bed. ROLLAND: It's pretty structured. As Katie was saying, it's very secure and structured. It's not a shelter. SAUER: Right. ORR: Right. ROLLAND: It's housing. SAUER: Now, isn't there a point in the long run that it's supposed to save the city money because of the frequent flier, the lack of intense services for these folks? ORR: Yes. I think it is. As I believe CityBeat mentioned in your article, that people going to the emergency room cost the city an unimaginable amount of money. So if you get them in a home and you get them stabilized, then they stop going to the emergency room as much. SAUER: We're going to have to leave it there. [[[NEW SEGMENT]]]. SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable on KPBS. I'm Mark Sauer. Katie, hope springs anew for baseball teams during spring training. So it is for the Padres despite their low payroll and largely unanimous roster. But many cable TV subscribers have been upset because broadcasts of the team's games were unavailable to them. Explain why time warner customers don't get Padres. ORR: Time Warner has not been able to come to an agreement with Fox Sports San Diego which is the network that is contracted to air the games. Fox Sports has come to an agreement with four other major providers in San Diego but hasn't been able to come to an with Time Warner cable. So last season, none of the games were broadcast on Time Warner, and as opening day approaches, that's no agreement yet. MAUREEN SAUER: So the same situation. And how many folks just ball park are we talking about? ORR: Are I believe they said it was about 195,000. That's the number they gave at the hearing yesterday. SAUER: What percentage of households? ORR: 22% of people who get a cable kind of service in the county get Time Warner. PERRY: Full disclosure, I am a Time Warner subscriber! I'm at the end of my second season of pulling my hair out. [ LAUGHTER ] PERRY: Explain $8 billion for the Dodgers, and not $0.10 for the Padres. Explain that to us! [ LAUGHTER ] SAUER: Explain more about your reference. PERRY: Time Warner cut a deal with the dodgers, $8 billion to show the dreaded dodgers to the fans up there. Can do a deal with the dodgers, can't do a deal with Fox Sports to show the Padres. ROLLAND: You say dreaded, I say beloved! [ LAUGHTER ] SAUER: Here we go. ORR: Get outta here! [LAUGHTER] ORR: That is definitely one of the biggest criticisms. Time Warner says this deal with the Dodgers is a multiyear deal and it locked in the rates. So they say it's a good investment for them over the long haul. But they have not been able to come to any kind of agreement down here with Fox Sports so that's leading Fox Sports and people on the City Council to say hey, you're just giving us a bum deal. PERRY: You witnessed that committee hearing this week, as did I. SAUER: Tell us about that. PERRY: And there they were! The alpha male from Fox Sports, and the alpha male from Time Warner! Both speaking through clenched teeth. ORR: Yes. PERRY: Refusing to sit next to each other. ORR: Yes, he said he was sick. [ LAUGHTER ] PERRY: Was that the most bizarre council hearing ever! ORR: That was probably the most fun committee hearing I have ever been to. It was just -- the tension in that room was palpable! And everyone is trying to act like they're getting along. But you could tell, those executives -- because the city, now, this is where it gets interesting. SAUER: Yeah, this is a committee of the City Council we're talking about! But they don't have any power to do anything! ORR: They can't compel Time Warner or fox to come to an agreement. But they say as a franchisee of Time Warner, the city may be able to see the records of Time Warner cable. PERRY: And were the alpha males willing to just -- ORR: Oh, no! She kept saying how many subscribers do you have? SAUER: Sherri Lightner? ORR: No, Marti Emerald. She is district 9. PERRY: 22 years as an investigative television reporter! ORR: And her district largely would not be affected because it's south of the 8. However she was just grilling these guys about the financials! And they would not give her any information. So she was basically saying, okay, fine, we're going to subpoena those records. PERRY: You know what I thought among the other bizarre things was the interplay between the mayor and the city attorney. City attorney gives his report, it says we really don't have any leg to stand on to sue. In comes the mayor! The mayor says I've read that law! I think maybe we do! The next thing you know, the committee has decided to recommend that legal action be taken to get the dollars and cents! I thought wow! As a small subset of the whole thing, the interplay between the attorney and the mayor -- SAUER: Do their limited powers extend to subpoena power? ORR: Marti Emerald was asking the city attorney, how do we go about that? Do we have to subpoena those? And part of the motion was asking the city attorney's office to begin the process of trying to get these records. I was tweeting yesterday, I don't think -- there is no way that Time Warner and fox San Diego are just going to give those up without a fight! [ LAUGHTER ] ORR: So if they go that way, it'll probably be a big legal fight. PERRY: It'll be interesting, and not to pat my own paper newspaper on the back, bub one of my colleagues has actually written about some of the financial details that would indicate what's going on here in terms of the amount per person that is being requested and everything. So we were sort of squirmishing for stuff that's already out there. But there's still a lot more. And one interesting thing about Jan goldSmith, he suggested it isn't the amount, it's the duration that Time Warner is bucking and jumping at the idea of signing a multiyear deal. That struck me as saying, well, there's your compromise. Have it a shorter agreement. ORR: Well, and Jan Goldsmith was also implying that there seems to be a bigger dispute on the national level between Time Warner and fox. PERRY: Oh, sure! Elephants are fighting and we're the mice and we're getting stomped on! [ LAUGHTER ] ORR: And other people make the argument, if the Padres come out and they're good -- PERRY: As they will be. On their way to the world series. [ LAUGHTER ] PERRY: Mark and I are sure of it! Forget those Dodgers! [ LAUGHTER ] ROLLAND: You know what this brings up to me, I wonder if this is the last one of these fights basically that we're going to witness. Because cable as a model is outmoded! We are on the precipice of people -- you can already buy, like, apple TV or Roku or a service like that and basically just get a la carte -- even our friend Bruce Springstein was just singing about all these channels and nothing being on. PERRY: And us Time Warner parishioners have an option. I could convince my wife I could jump over to I think DirecTV. Now, some company. And that's where Sherri Lightner said in my neighborhood, her overall district, a lot of senior citizens, old folks have no choice. ROLLAND: But at some point, it's going to be all a la carte and on demand. You're going to pay for the kinds of content you want and you're going to bypass the cable company. PERRY: So other people aren't paying for your content. That's one of the arguments too, sports is real expensive. And that's great for the fans SAUER: So some big slugger's salary is being paid by somebody who could care les about sports. PERRY: It's part of the spirit of the city. ORR: But I talked it a marketings professor here at SDSU, and he was saying these disputes actually, the amount of money involved is so mindboggling he predicts they're actually going to increase as they change their revenue model. Now, like, ESPN demands something, when they get carried on Time Warner, they can demand getting $4 per subscriber. Then they get the ad revenue on top of that. So they are making tons of money from broadcasting! PERRY: Which is what Marti Emerald was getting at. She said what's your profit margin? How much advertising, Mr. Alpha male from Time Warner? And he was giving nothing! ORR: Oh, he was not happy. SAUER: And you've got a year now where these folks aren't able to watch the Padres. Isn't that some bad will? CALBREATH: Well, it does create bad will. On the other hand, I think what it will inspire people to do is to seek alternate routes as a way of getting their stuff. I have never, to tell the truth, never been a cable subscriber. And now I've jumped from getting it all through my computer. And the computer is a wonderful thing. SAUER: So what happens to that $8 billion, 20-year deal if the model all changes? ROLLAND: Well, I think the dodgers and those teams that have these arrangements are hoping it just doesn't crumble that fast. SAUER: They put the hit and run sign on and get caught stealing. PERRY: Well, the folks like the Dodgers are holing hoping to start a network. So if one community if there's lots of options, maybe there won't be in another community and you can spread it out. ROLLAND: And if this model ends, if they have their own network, they basically just sell to subscribers. ORR: And we should say that the Padres own 20% of Fox Sports San Diego. So they have a role in this as well.
Taxation Without Representation? - Judge Ronald Prager ruled this week that San Diego hoteliers’ plan to pay for the expansion of the convention center by levying a fee on themselves conforms to “all applicable constitutional provisions, statues and ordinances.”
Proponents of the hotel fee/tax have likened it to a Mello Roos program, a neighborhood assessment of itself for neighborhood projects.
Roundtable participants noted that San Diego and other California cities may increasingly attempt creative financing arrangements to fund projects, now that there is no more redevelopment money from the state.
Opponents believe the fee was really a tax and therefore illegal because the public didn’t vote on it. In fact the public voted against an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax on hotel guests in 2004.
Furthermore, the hotels are not in one neighborhood, but strung out all over the city. The assessment is to be on a sliding scale, depending on proximity to the convention center.
Possible consequences of this ruling are interesting to consider. Scott Lewis noted in a Voice of San Diego column this week that business leaders might decide to tax their consumers so they can build – whatever. Maybe a new Chargers stadium.
10 Years In Iraq. Already? - This month marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and analysts and pundits are looking at what it has cost us.
More than 4,500 Americans have been killed and tens of thousands more have been wounded. There are at least 117,000 Iraqi dead.
In treasure, the war has cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion (some say $3 trillion). Healthcare costs for veterans are still rising and are estimated to be in the range of $450 to 700 billion. The war has arguably cost us prestige abroad as well as anguish at home.
Marines from Camp Pendleton have been in the thick of it since the beginning, many returning for multiple tours.
Connecting Homeless To Housing: - The City of San Diego finally opened Connections Housing this week, the one-stop center downtown for the chronically homeless.
The center, which provides studio apartments for 73 and transitional beds for 150, also includes job counseling, mental health screening, and drug and alcohol treatment for residents.
There are other on-going projects to assist the homeless and others in San Diego who need services and more in the works. But many advocates do not believe the contention that Connections or the other efforts will eliminate the need for the city’s winter shelter. They regard this as a good first step only. This year’s count found 1,000 homeless living on the streets downtown.
Will Broadcasters Play Ball? - Mayor Bob Filner; some city council members (notably Sherri Lightner); various sports columnists and all Padres fans north of I-8 would like to be able to see San Diego’s MLB team play on TV this year.
So far, not so good, as Fox Sports San Diego and Time Warner Cable have been unable to come to an agreement to broadcast the games again this year.
Lightner convened an unusual hearing before the City Council Rules Committee Thursday morning, attended by the mayor, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and council members David Alvarez and Marti Emerald.
The hearing was designed to pressure Time Warner and Fox Sports to come to terms. But neither company would give the committee the financial information they sought. Emerald told the executives the council would subpoena the information.
The committee gave the companies notice that they would continue the pressure, regardless of whether the city can actually affect a dispute between two private businesses.