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Roundtable Analyzes State Of The City, Chargers & LA Stadium, Sheriff's Pre-Crime Squad

Roundtable Analyzes State Of The City, Chargers & LA Stadium
Roundtable Analyzes State Of The City, Chargers & LA Stadium, Sheriff's Pre-Crime Squad
State Of The City, Chargers & LA Stadium, Sheriff's Pre-crime Project HOST:Mark SauerGUESTS:Tarryn Mento, KPBS News Jay Paris, 1090 Sports Radio Andrew Keatts, Voice of San Diego

Marks Sauer: The Mayor State of the City Address was long and optimism and short and specifics. There is no workable proposal for a new Charger stadium but there is another task force in the face of a bull pitch to build a stadium in LA, and the Sheriff’s Department targets Trolley Stations to try and stop crime before it happens. I am Mark Sauer and the KPBS Roundtable starts now. Welcome to our discussion of the week’s top stories. I am Mark Sauer, and joining me at the KPBS Roundtable today are KPBS Metro Reporter, Tarryn Mento. Hi, Tarryn. Tarryn Mento: Hi, Mark. Mark Sauer: And sportscaster, Jay Paris of 1090 Sports Radio. Good to see you back Jay. Jay Paris: Bonjour, Mark. Mark Sauer: And reporter, Andrew Keatts with the Voice of San Diego. Hi, Andy. Andrew Keatts: How’s it going, Mark? Mark Sauer: Good to see you today. Well the buildup to this week’s State of the City Address promised some new proposals and perhaps some new ideas from Mayor Kevin Faulconer including how to tackle the issues of a stadium for the Chargers and a bigger Convention Center downtown, but the speech may not have been what some were waiting for. Tarryn, let’s start by setting the scene, where was it, what was the atmosphere like and what were people thinking they might hear at that speech. Tarryn Mento: Yeah well it was downtown at Balboa Theatre and actually the way that it opened up started with a video and it had these adorable children talking about their aspirations, what they wanted to be when they grow up kind of setting the stage for opportunities in San Diego and that was what the Mayor said the theme of his speech about opportunities. And one the opportunities I guess you could say people expected to hear about was more on the Convention Center expansion and also the talk of a new Charger stadium. Mark Sauer: And it didn’t really happen. So here’s what the Mayor had to say about. He is going to address that thorny issue of the Chargers stadium. I am assembling a group of civic leaders to recommend a location and develop a viable financing plan. They will explore all possibilities to finance this project and they will be charged with studying two different options, building a stadium at the current Mission Valley location or building a stadium along with an expanded Convention Center in downtown San Diego. Mark Sauer: All right. So another task force, so we’ve been here before Jay. We have been in 2002 what happened. Jay Paris: I think the first time I heard that George Bush was in the second year of his first term and the Euro was introduced. So, you know the Chargers were really hoping to get some specifics on when, how, who and where out of that speech the other night instead there was a pretty ambiguous and a pretty broad brush the Mayor painted. The Chargers weren’t too pleased afterward. Mark Sauer: So task force is on the stadium. Andy, we’ve had task forces here forever on the airport. People I think glaze over they hear task force, they don’t hear a plan. Andrew Keatts: Yeah, I mean it’s a good way to buy yourself sometime if you don’t know what you want to do and that’s basically what we have here. And I think if you think about it, if you start gaming it out he says that he wants to hear the task force results next fall. Well then that means that whatever proposal they were to come up with assuming they actually did come up with one wouldn’t be able to go to voters before until 2016. So now you’ve bought yourself two full years basically by going to a task force. Jay Paris: And I think the key here is the time line doesn’t really fit because the Chargers have their window to say if they are going to come back or not. So with the Chargers you know neglect exercising that clause to keep their options open by hoping something would be done in 2016. That might be a stretch. Mark Sauer: Well I am glad you brought that up. We’re going to get further into Chargers and stadiums here and elsewhere in a little bit here, but let’s shift gears to a different aspect Tarryn of the speech the other night by Mayor Faulconer and that is that expanded Convention Center. We have basically too big plans, don’t we expand the one on the waterfront that’s there or do this non-continuous center expansion slash stadium. Tarryn Mento: Right. Tourism officials kind of were adamant that we need a contiguous expansion needs to be one long place. And the other idea that’s kind of floating out there is if we do get a new Charger stadium let’s make you know part of that you know an offsite expansion of the Convention Center. They can use it for sort of maybe overflow to host two convention at the same time. Tourism officials have consistently said that’s not what they want, that’s not going to meet their needs. And I think the Mayor adds the State of the City didn’t kind of elaborate further on really where we’re going to go with that just that Steve Cushman, who’s the board, the Chairman of the Board of the Convention Center Corporation, that he’s going to continue working on it and that’s really the most details that we got. Mark Sauer: So not satisfying as we set for a lot of people. Do we need an expanded Convention Center, Andy? Andrew Keatts: Well, I mean the Convention Center expansion is one of these things that’s like there’s arms race going on all over the country. Every city is constantly saying well we need to expand our Convention Center in – [Overlapping conversation] [00:04:57] Mark Sauer: …we got a much bigger one than you do. Andrew Keatts: Right. And then the expansion that just happened in Las Vegas or San Antonio or name your city is then uses the reason that every other city needs to get theirs now. And so it creates a nice little system of pumping you know pumping the well for everybody. Mark Sauer: All right. So we’re talking about a bunch of money for a Convention Center expansion, a bunch of public money and private money and money for perhaps a Charger stadium but also in that speech we need a bunch of money for crumbling streets and sewers and public infrastructure works. What did the Mayor say about that, Tarryn. Tarryn Mento: Right. Well, on the topic of infrastructure, he proposed a five-year plan what’s in it we’re not sure but part of it includes is paving 1000 miles of streets over that five years, very ambitious. But when it came to how we’re going to pay for that, there weren’t a lot of those details. He focused a lot on needing to bring reforms to the way that the city gets project done. He said something along the lines if there’s millions of dollars that’s just like sitting there waiting to be spent but it’s something to do with the approvals you know getting the bids everything approved that it’s just dragging on and so he’s talking about more about reforming that to like fast-track those projects. Mark Sauer: So we got to streamline the process itself because there’s money there and projects that could be done now. Andrew Keatts: Yeah and I mean there’s no question in any system that if you can – it’s found money if you can actually streamline the process to get more work out of it, sure. But the question is it so much found money that it closes the gap of what’s estimated or to be a two billion dollar deficit. And right now all the bonding that the city has done consistently for the last few years hasn’t even been enough to keep things from getting worse. We’re not even at a like you know for all the back padding that goes on every time we pave a road, it’s not even enough to counteract the simple amount of degradation that’s expected based on normal wear and tear. Mark Sauer: So we’re not even treading water – Andrew Keatts: We are not even treading water, we are in the process of drowning slowly. Tarryn Mento: Yeah that two billion, I mean it’s everyone keeps referring to as an estimate. I mean Mark Kersey, he’s the chair of Infrastructure Committee was speaking about how next week is when finally a report will be done that really looks at all of the infrastructure needs and deferred maintenance from top to bottom and that’s when we’ll actually finally know like what do we need to repair. Mark Sauer: All right. Now the Mayor also created some news about ways to get the more San Diegans train for these well-paying high-tech jobs that we heavily talked about the skills gap that we have and I think we do have a bite. Let’s see what he had to say about that. I am assembling a group of San Diego employers, educators, innovators and workforce experts to connect San Diegans to the opportunities that exist in our own backyard. Mark Sauer: All right. So what is he talking about their, how’s he going to do this? Tarryn Mento: Well, it sounds like another task force setting group to study a problem however he did set a deadline. He wants them to come forward with ideas within six months talking about ways to improve access to affordable education and kind of get younger people interested in the science and technology jobs at San Diego has a wealth of is what he is saying. And he also pointed out that it’s not you know there’s the minimum wage ordinance that’s been thrown around that will now be on the ballot and he’s talking about you know it’s not about just giving them a couple extra bucks, it’s about getting them in jobs that you know command kind of higher pay grade. Mark Sauer: Okay so a push for the closet skill gap. He also did speak in Spanish at one point during the speech. What was that all about? Tarryn Mento: Right, he was, the Tijuana Mayor was there and he was speaking about how – a couple months earlier last year they signed an agreement to kind of work together more to utilize the relationship and grow their economic relationship. And he mentioned that they’re going to have regular meetings and he was speaking about how he wants to work with the Mayor to support residents on both sides. I think I offered a brief translation that said something we’re going to grow opportunities to make you know improve the lives of our residents. And he also mentioned something about he’s going to try and help support immigration reform as well. Mark Sauer: All right. So as we’ve said very broad strokes maybe that’s what the State of Addresses are all about the President will be giving one here shortly. So we’ll see what happens when all the details and specifics come out. We’re going to shift gears now. Kevin Faulconer may not have had a concrete stadium proposal for San Diego but one has surfaced in Los Angeles. Stan Kroenke is the billionaire owner of St. Louis Rams wants to transform the old Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood into a stadium entertainment complex. And Jay, tell us about this guy. He’s got some deep pockets as you know [overlapping conversation] [00:09:29] rich owners, he is one of the richest. Jay Paris: Yeah only Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder has deeper pockets and you know Stan certainly has a real estate empire and he married into the Wal-Mart family as well so he’s made his wealth there. I don’t think he shops at Wal-Mart but [laughter] I think he’s build his wealth pretty good. I think the key difference here with Stan I mean there’s been a zillion proposals up there, he has a ton of money and he has a football team and nobody else has been there that all. Mark Sauer: Well, that’s true, that kind of got everybody’s attention because let’s talk about this. The football teams and they had two up there, they had the Raiders and they had the Rams which of course moved to Los Angeles [indiscernible] [00:10:03] and they haven’t had one for 20 years. There’s huge TV market, there’s huge sports market, they still seem to be there, they are on the map, Los Angeles hasn’t gone away, but there’s been tons of proposals in the meantime. Jay Paris: Right and I think you know people once said, oh, the NFL was unable to get back in in LA. The NFL has used LA as the leverage pin to build stadiums all over this nation and I think finally so many stadiums are finally built now they don’t have to keep playing the LA card and Stan is a perfect example when he made that proposal about LA. Less than a week later St. Louis were ready to give him 600 million dollars so he wants to build a new stadium in St. Louis, so it is effective plan the LA kind – Mark Sauer: What tell us about that leverage, how do they actually use this? Jay Paris: Well it’s just like what’s happening in San Diego. Every city if it could avoid it would rather not spend 500 million dollars to build a football stadium. Mark Sauer: But they don’t want to leave – lose their team. Jay Paris: But they also don’t want to lose the team and then so you need some sort of leverage point to say well if you don’t then we’ll go here and having avoid in los Angeles has been incredibly lucrative and you’ve got new stadiums all over the country and it’s interesting that now that it’s starting to seem like maybe we’ll actually see a team go to LA. Now you start hearing the rumors well we might be able to get two teams in LA. So they don’t want to lose their leverage point. Mark Sauer: Well, let’s bring this back around the San Diego. Let’s say, I have been speculating a little bit here that he does build a stadium , he doesn’t move the Rams back to Los Angeles right, wouldn’t that kind of foreclose the Chargers option of telling the city here give us some public money and build a new stadium or we’re going to LA this, where’d it go now. Jay Paris: Well you know they could be a tenant there and immediately if the Rams or the Chargers moved up there the word of their franchise will just go through the roof, I mean they’ve built you know 2 billion dollars for the Clippers, you imagine whether NFL team would be worth up there so. Mark Sauer: So they shared that stadium. Jay Paris: I think they can share it co-tenant and you know the Giants and Jets and something like that would Mr. Snell like his own place absolutely, but I think you know at some point he’s been kicking this ball down the road and it’s clear that for twelve years San Diego and the Chargers kind of their own timetable, they’re working on it to see if they can get something done. That’s all change now with a really strong effort in LA to bring a team in. Mark Sauer: Well let’s talk a little bit about that project as he’s proposed it up. This was the old race track I am sure many folks from San Diego been up there over the years and gone to Hollywood Park in its– Jay Paris: And it’s right next to the Forum and I think a lot more people had been to the Forum and recently I went up there for Stevie Wonder Concert. The Forum’s awesome. The Madison Square Garden bought it, put a 100 million dollars into it – [Overlapping conversation] [00:12:32 ] Jay Paris: Yeah, and they took the scoreboard down, I mean it’s a theater now. It was awesome. [Overlapping conversation] [00:12:41] but next door is 300 acres and 300 prime acres that sits in between four freeways, I mean, so you can make it work and the community sport fort is off the charts. So they are dealing with a little different animal up there and Inglewood would love to have NFL team, I guarantee you. Mark Sauer: All right. So we talked briefly about the Chargers options here. Can you refurbish, let’s talk about refurbishing the form, can refurbish Qualcomm Stadium, can you make this up to [indiscernible] [00:13:06]. I know they’ve done some improvements over the years or is that off the – Jay Paris: You know you don’t hear that and you’re hearing that you know to keep the bones if you will at the facility and to build something new around that you could almost buy a new one but – Mark Sauer: Not cost effective. Jay Paris: Yeah I think more and we got to realize this with more and more stadium deal [indiscernible] [00:13:24] these are real estate deals. They’re not sports deals anymore, and it the real estate around and the development around it that pencils out for the guys. Mark Sauer: Right. So I did want to ask a bottom-line question for the whole panel here and we get to this and that’s what the Mayor’s new task force is all about. Ultimately, if there’s going to be a 100-200 whatever the big sum is, the public money here. Is there two-thirds vote, is their solid support in San Diego to vote for a football stadium and keep the Chargers here? Jay Paris: No. Andrew Keatts: No. Jay Paris: Specifically in Mission Valley it would be a tough sell because I think the way they sell this in downtown is in a Charger stadium for Mr. Spanos, it is a Convention Center. Mark Sauer: The whole city uses– Jay Paris: You can bring some other events and you know if you are just trying to sell a stand-alone stadium that that could be a tough road this way. Mark Sauer: One thing that is coming downtown announced this week that is shifting the baseball is the All-Star Game. So not this summer but next summer 2016, the Padres are hosted down a Petco Park, what does that means for the city? Jay Paris: It’s a Big O spotlight on San Diego and the Padres indirectly, it’s going to show up the city and everybody loves to come to San Diego you know the only request I think they have is they have the Home Run Derby early in the day so the Marine Layer hadn’t come in yet. It will be warning track that will be you know that just doesn’t sell as well so… Mark Sauer: What if they have a home run derby and nobody gets a home run. Jay Paris: That’s right, but great job by Mike Dee, Ron Fowler, those guys over the Padres, you know, these are tough gems to get from MLB and they got one. Mark Sauer: And it seems to me we talked a little early before we went on the air about the benefit of an All-Star Game that comes in you don’t have like for the Olympics for example or cities going to lay out Beijing’s the example $3 billion here. The infrastructure there, the stadiums there and folks come and everybody has a great time. Jay Paris: Yeah it’s a – Mark Sauer: [overlapping conversation] [00:15:09] it’s a win-win. Jay Paris: The only thing it make it more of a win-win if it was in wintertime they have filled up those hotel rooms when there is so many vacancies which is why we have to bowl games you know so I think it’s a win for the Padres and it really just emphasizes the culture changes going on down there. Mark Sauer: Maybe Bud Selig Plaza, they have paid off after … Jay Paris: I can smell quid pro quo. [laugher] Mark Sauer: All right. So one thing I want to touch on before we leave this sport segment is those of us who care, those of us who play hockey and love hockey, professional hockey may be coming back to San Diego. Tell us about that. Jay Paris: Well you know ice in San Diego usually means margaritas [laughter] but this would actually be a pro team on ice and it be there and I [indiscernible] [00:15:55] Triple A Team. Mark Sauer: Top [indiscernible] [00:15:55] that was always the lower minor leagues before sometimes you see some guys would make it to the NHL but most of the time it was guys minor league professionals. Jay Paris: Right. These guys will be you know 100 miles and one level away from the NHL - Mark Sauer: The star is coming in and out of here, so Andy can you make it go over to San Diego professional hockey? Jay Paris: You know I think so the renege goes back to the venue questions which the Devil, the Chargers but that the girls were pretty damn popular when they were going. Mark Sauer: And they were successful. They won two or three of those Taylor Cups I think – [Overlapping conversation] [00:16:23] and they had a core following. I don’t know if any folks of this size may love hockey but the people who follow them really love them. Jay Paris: Right. It’s a core group and if you can build on that I think they have something there. Mark Sauer: All right, well, we will see, we will certainly look forward the next year if hockey comes back for those of us who love it. Tarryn Mento: You’re going up for the team. Mark Sauer: No, certainly not. In Steven Spielberg’s 2000 movie Minority Report, Tom Cruise was a cop of the Dystopian Future who arrested people before they committed a crime. The present day San Diego Sheriff’s Operational Lemon Drop is certainly not that but it does have echoes of the film’s pre crime squad. Andy, tell us about Operation Lemon Drop. It’s got such an exotic name and what’s in 1170. Andrew Keatts: That’s what law enforcement does these exotic names. It’s like they are just begging journalists to look into things, but basically what they – the way this works was they said so in 2011 realignment passed which was among other things an attempt to deal with prison overcrowding. And it created a class of ex-con basically felons who when they were released normally they would have gone on probation or parole which would have given the government some way to monitor what they are doing through drug-testing, jobs monitoring that sort of thing. These people were released were released free and clear. Mark Sauer: And that’s called an 1170, that’s the operating – Andrew Keatts: Yeah the section of the law. So they referred to as 1170s. And so they had no requirements to report to anyone in any you know state or local office. And basically the Sheriff’s Department thought that was not such a good idea so they went about reverse engineering their own way to monitor these people. So they took all their names and they would run them through a series of databases, everything that they have at their disposal DMD records, prior arrest records, anything that the government has access to and started looking for patterns that would suggest that these people were not just one time criminals but prolific criminals. And so they said okay where are they, circled map where they all were and then they started looking a little bit further. They actually monitored their social media feeds and found out that a lot of these guys were spending a lot of time on the Trolley. So they said all right well they live, a lot of them live in Lemon Grove and a lot of them use the Trolley let’s set up basically a large public dragnet at the Trolley station. Mark Sauer: So they need an excuse to pull these folks aside in some way to question them without just catching just single people out and I’m a police officer and said I want to question you. Andrew Keatts: In hopes that they will be committing some crimes, something that is arrestable and – Mark Sauer: It gives them an opening. Andrew Keatts: It gives them an opening and by their own admission the concern is not with whatever crime they happen to be committing at that moment, it is with what they think they’re going to do in the future that they say is being prevented by doing this. Mark Sauer: Okay. So the crime here is being a scuff along the Trolley right. Andrew Keatts: Right. So they say how we establish probable cause, well we’ll go to the Trolley and will do a fair check and if you don’t have fair well now you’ve broken the law so now we can search you, we can ask you questions, we can monitor you. And one thing that is particularly interesting to me is all those interviews are going back into the same database that they’re using to establish who the criminals are. So it creates the self-perpetuating cycle where you’re only doing these interviews in the communities where you set up the operations, but the interviews are the things that point you back to where your next operation should be. So you end up always being in the same communities you are already policing. Mark Sauer: So it’s inevitable you’re going to be talking to a lot of the same people here. I does smack a little bit here, now you get on the train, you expect the conductor was going to say hey do you get a ticket. Everybody expects that. You’re going to have a ticket. A lot of people jump on and jump off and don’t pay the fare. Andrew Keatts: Yeah and they have routine fair enforcement that you know people who come by and say can I – Mark Sauer: Can I see you valid tickets here. Andrew Keatts: That happens all the time and that happens everyday. Mark Sauer: Yeah, people expect that but this is actually little bit of those old World War II movies where you know the Nazi officers on the platform and let me see your papers here, we are taking you off to some terrible place. Andrew Keatts: I mean there are 50 officers. Tarryn Mento: I was going to say, there’s just not just one or two walking round, there’s multiple. Andrew Keatts: Yes 50 officers wearing Kevlar, armed and you know when you – if you’re found to not have a ticket it doesn’t [indiscernible] [00:20:29] a citation and say, oh, you’re not on probation, okay. They pull you aside with you know another dozen officers waiting there and start interrogating. Mark Sauer: Well I find that interesting coding your start Commander, Dave Myers with the Sheriff’s Department, he was explaining or he was characterizing these [indiscernible] [00:20:44] worst of the worst in the set up here, you were telling us not really, they were released every [indiscernible] [00:20:50] because they weren’t the worst. Andrew Keatts: It is interesting that he views this as essentially a no brainer opportunity. They have these people that they know to be likely criminals because of their analysis and that’s [indiscernible] [00:21:03] Mark Sauer: They have the database they can take advantage of that. Andrew Keatts: Right, but the state of California has made a very strong determination that these are the least of the worst that’s why we are letting them out without probation or parole. Mark Sauer: So, go ahead. Tarryn Mento: What kind of crimes are they, have they commented and that they can be released. Andrew Keatts: So this is non-sexual, non-violent, non-serious is that the triple non as they are called in the academic world. So these are a lot of time it’s drugs. They take away those three things usually– Mark Sauer: And many of them may have been in for parole violations and missing appointments with parole officers in the past of course we did have the ballot measure which was passed overwhelmingly last fall that a lot these folks won’t be going into state prison to begin with in the future kind of realignment on the front end. Andrew Keatts: So and so ultimately you know this was operation they did five installments over four month period. Mark Sauer: Yeah it’s not every day, we should point that out. They go in and they target this on a specific date. Andrew Keatts: Specific date and I mean they were really just hoping to catch people, breaking crimes. Mark Sauer: So is this success, what are the numbers showing? Andrew Keatts: So you know 16,000 people went through the situation had this really large dramatic show of force become something that they had to deal with. And out of those 16,000 people they found you know about like 600 people who gave them some reason to ask further questions. Sometimes that was fair violation but it might have been something else. Mark Sauer: Put them in the secondary. Andrew Keatts: Yeah put them in the next level of questioning and of those there was you know a 400 some fair violations citations were given and a 180 people were arrested for something or another and that includes misdemeanors. So we’ve got a 180 arrests affected by what’s supposed to be an extremely targeted operation that went through 16,000 people. Tarryn Mento: Would they have a target goal of how many they are, what’s their percentage rate of getting actually arresting people? Andrew Keatts: No you know it’s interesting this idea of like how do you measure whether this worked or not, right and which basically what it comes down to in another way I asked that was okay so this started with the list of these 1170s. How many of the 180 arrests were 1170s and I said we don’t, we can’t keep track of that, we don’t have information and as far as I said also how do you measure success, how do you determine whether this worked. Is that well crime rates are down or are they not? Look at the crime rates. I said well and that’s true crime rates are down. Mark Sauer: But they have been turning down for a long time and throughout California, throughout the state. Andrew Keatts: …throughout San Diego. And this is extremely novel and unique program. What San Diego is doing here is not just policing as usual. This is I talked to multiple experts who said that they not heard anything like this and in the context of California in reacting the realignment this is unique so. Mark Sauer: So what is the ACLU or civil libertarians have to say about this whole approach? Andrew Keatts: Also they are certainly concerned with equal protection under the law, the possibilities of profiling not just that this community seems to have been specifically profiled in its demographics are different than La Jolla for instance, but they’ve also alleged that they’ve talked to people and they have done interviews with people who say that they were treated differently based on how young they were whether they were black or white that sort of thing. Mark Sauer: So it gets into the racial profiling aspect though. Andrew Keatts: Yeah, I mean it is sort of related to the conversation that’s been happening New York around stop and frisk which you know the claim has always been well if you’re not doing anything you legally have nothing to worry about, which I find compelling only in so far as people are willing to turn it around and ask themselves if that is in fact how they would feel if it was happening in their neighborhood. I mean if suddenly the Sheriff’s Department believe that there was some sort of high-end drug operation in La Jolla you know cocaine dealer or something like that and they were going to set up seatbelt checks and anytime you didn’t have a seat belt not only were you going to get a seat belt ticket but you’re going to pull aside, you are going to search – question about everything, where you’re going, what you’re doing, who’s your wife all that stuff. I think people would have a different reaction to the program if that’s what was happening. Mark Sauer: Any legal aspects or reactions to this so for and a few seconds we have left and filed anything yet or are they monitoring it? Andrew Keatts: ACLU is pursuing their operations. They’ve been doing Know Your Rights campaign, so far there’s no formal legal proceedings. Mark Sauer: And you really don’t have to, you have to prove you have a valid ticket but you don’t have to talk to a police officer if they want to question you about this sort of things. Andrew Keatts: Right and that’s true but it’s something that a lot of people don’t. Mark Sauer: They don’t know and windup doing anyway. All right, well we will be following and watching your follow up and that’s a fascinating story. That does wrap up another week of stories at the KPBS roundtable. I’d like to thank my guests Tarryn Mento of KPBS News, Jay Paris of 1090 sports radio, and Andrew Keatts of Voice of San Diego. A reminder, all of the stories we discussed today are available on our website I’m Mark Sauer, thanks for joining us today on the roundtable.

What's The State Of The city?

Two issues (the ones with major price tags and opposition attached) generated the most speculation before Mayor Kevin Faulconer's State of the City speech this week: the expansion of the Convention Center and the chances for a new Chargers’ stadium.

The mayor's response to both these long-running, prickly problems was to announce that a task force would look into them and come up with a recommendation by year's end.


Faulconer said he will appoint another task force, this one to make recommendations on closing what he called "the skills gap" between what employers need and workers are trained to do.

He also promised that 1,000 miles of San Diego streets would be re-paved by 2020.

Another area of contention, police and fire salaries, received little mention because contracts with both departments are in negotiation now.

The Chargers And The Stadium

The mayor's announcement of a task force to recommend a final resting place for the stadium provoked some angry comments from Mark Fabiani, the Chargers' counsel, who was quite negative about former Port Commissioner Steve Cushman's involvement.


The Chargers and some fans are also anxious about the proposal by Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, to build an entertainment district complete with a pro football stadium and performance venue in Inglewood.

The Chargers could move to the new Inglewood digs. Or Kroenke’s group could move his Rams to Los Angeles. Apparently, either choice is bad for San Diego, depending on who's commenting.

Kroenke has said the new complex will not cost Los Angeles any tax or government dollars. Except the St. Louis Post Dispatch says he expects reimbursement of $100 million in tax dollars over the first five years of operation.

Sheriff's Pre-Crime Squad

Operation Lemon Drop is a program initiated by the San Diego County Sheriff to contact potential “prolific offenders” before they commit felonies.

This is not a replay of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film “Minority Report.” Rather, it is an attempt to reach some of the 1,175 former inmates who were released in this county under prison realignment without parole or probation requirements.

These offenders, the department has determined, are likely to commit serious crimes and also use the trolley a lot, particularly at the Lemon Grove station.

The Metropolitan Transit System also conducts sweeps at trolley stops in the city of San Diego.

Anyone caught without a trolley ticket during one of these sweeps is questioned, and if warranted, arrested. So far the results of the sweeps have been less than stellar, with just one percent of those interviewed arrested, some for misdemeanors.