The best local journalism of 2021 – Voice of San Diego


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Local media prepare to film a press conference in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The pandemic hasn’t stopped officials from failing us, as local and national journalists have revealed over the past year. Here’s a look at some of the most notable San Diego newspapers of 2021 from other posts:

Home, Unsweet Home: Government failures galore

• The Washington Post introduced readers to an Imperial Beach woman who struggled to stay in her apartment with her children as a series of landlords tried to evict her for not paying rent. Wait, weren’t there protections against evictions during the pandemic? Yes and no. There were loopholes and the owners of her apartment tried to walk through them.

“Tears came to her eyes as she looked back on the year that has passed,” the Post reported. “The 45-year-old single mother had lost her job. I watched his savings run out. Counted as months of unpaid rent that piled up – like millions of Americans ambushed by the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. “

• Thanks to the county, people with COVID-19 who could not quarantine themselves at home were believed to be able to find a secure temporary home at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Mission Valley. However, inewsource found that the problems first documented in 2020 persisted until 2021 and potentially threatened public health: guests and employees said “the program is poorly managed, staff are not properly trained and security guards harass those who are subject to a public health order to isolate. All of this prompts some to leave the hotel before they are supposed to.

• County leaders wanted to spend $ 27 million in pandemic rental assistance to help low-income tenants in the area – but not those in cities like Chula Vista, El Cajon and San Diego that had their own programs. . How did that happen ? Not good. inewsource found that “for reasons the county would not explain, staff went against the wishes expressed by supervisors and created a standard that ultimately allowed residents of these towns to qualify for the program. “. But residents of other cities like Escondido and National City were excluded from the bounty.

• The Union-Tribune found evidence that “top commanders in the San Diego Sheriff’s Department have ordered their subordinates to carry out some evictions over the past year while others languished for months.” In one case, an eviction to a house across from Sheriff Bill Gore’s was speeded up.

• KPBS explored the “Hidden History of Racism in the San Diego Deeds” – the restrictive covenants that kept minorities out of neighborhoods and that still impact where we live today. And the NY Times pointed to the changes underway in a 1950s “California fantasy” – a Clairemont housing development that promised “careful planning and smart design.” Now, “it’s part of a push across California and the country to encourage density in suburban neighborhoods by allowing people to subdivide single-family homes and build new units in their backyards.

Surveillance state: who is watching whom?

• A covert border patrol unit “regularly used the country’s most sensitive databases to obtain travel records and financial and personal information from journalists, government officials, members of Congress and their staff, workers NGOs and others, ”reports Yahoo News. An agent at the center of the Border Patrol allegations now runs a cafe in Barrio Logan while continuing to work for the agency. He denies the allegations: “I am accused of blackmailing a reporter and attempting to list her as an FBI informant, which is currently widespread throughout San Diego because of the misinformation reported by the media. “

• Online magazine Slate takes a look at the drone habits of the Chula Vista Police Department, which launch drones “almost every time someone calls 911”: “Chula Vista’s willingness to use drones for anything and everything is a major departure from the have talked about and used drones over the past few years…. we should not accept that the constant presence of surveillance technologies, from drones and face recognition cameras to license plate readers, is the price our communities must pay to avoid police violence.

• A prosecutor and a cop “secretly placed four wiretapping devices in the waiting area inside an empty Vista courtroom” to register a murder accused, reported the Union-Tribune. The revelation of this subterfuge was not welcomed by the defense team for the accused, who said the recording was unconstitutional. The team also claimed that prosecutors were engaged in a cover-up operation, but the district attorney’s office said it acted legally.

Behind Bars: Donovan Prison’s Catastrophic COVID Toll

• inewsource found that Donovan State Prison in San Diego has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the state, and families were often not told their loved ones were ill until ‘upon their death. In some cases, detainees have been found dead in their cells. inewsource also reported that inmate deaths from COVID-19 were not being properly reported, including some who died in local hospitals. “When deaths are not accurately and quickly recorded and attributed to where the disease occurred, experts who monitor inmate deaths say it complicates disease management, can lead to misdirection of resources and puts detainees, staff and the public at risk ”, reported press briefing.

• NBC 7 discovered that a second San Diegan has been wrongfully confined to a public hospital for decades. The first man, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, was released in January 2021 after nearly 24 years in detention “following a run-off streak starting at the top, with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California State Board of Trustees. parole hearings, down to the local level with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office.

Poor kids got stuck with more virtual learning

In the pandemic’s first year, some local school children – like those in San Diego and Chula Vista – were forced to spend the entire year taking computer lessons. But a few, like those in the upscale communities of Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, and Del Mar, continued to attend class 90-100% of the time.

It turns out, as the Union-Tribune unsurprisingly discovered, that kids in wealthy neighborhoods fared better: Income students spent the most time in distance learning, data shows reopening of schools. “

As the story notes, poorer neighborhoods have had higher rates of COVID-19.

Crisis: Inside the Local Mental Health ‘Blackout’

• NBC 7 has launched an ambitious series of stories about the “breakdown” of local mental health care. Among the findings: The Sheriff’s Department has become the county’s largest mental health care provider, and Kaiser Permanente’s services are under fire.

• The Union-Tribune also follows the local mental health crisis. A moving story told how the parents of a 30-year-old man with mental illness and homelessness “struggled for years to find help for their son, trying to navigate a complex mental health system that has ‘an increasingly strong safety net to help homeless people, but not for homeless people with severe mental disorders.

Probe the medley: who is being investigated today?

• The Union-Tribune uncovered a federal grand jury investigation of Doug “Papa Doug” Manchester, the local hotel mogul, right-wing Trump supporter and former editor of UT himself. The case, which revolves around his failed bid to become ambassador to the Bahamas, “appears to focus on the Republican National Committee and its two top leaders, and possibly members of Congress.”

Manchester’s bid for ambassador failed amid accusations he presided over a sexist and toxic work environment at the newspaper.

• A former Cal State San Marcos dean who “has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in inappropriate travel bills” is under criminal investigation, UT has revealed.

The Catholic who did not wait for priestly permission

The Catholic Church does not allow female priests, and anyone who tries to become priests is automatically excommunicated. Jane Via of San Diego, a former prosecutor, told New Yorker magazine that it had upset her. But she went through a ceremony and now heads a “thriving congregation” founded to serve “disenfranchised Catholics: driven Catholics, like my husband; fallen Catholics, like my children; divorced-remarried-without-annulment Catholics, like my colleagues in my office; LGBTQ Catholics; and people like me, who no longer have a place in the Catholic Church to worship with integrity.

One of her teenage sons, meanwhile, had an idea to get around the church’s restriction that allowed her to be buried in a sacred place: “If she agreed to be cremated, he would put her ashes in. his pocket, would make a hole in it, and cross a Catholic cemetery.

‘I am here. I love you. You’re okay.’

A 12-year-old Oceanside boy named Connor can ride his bike and put his feet in the sea. But he can’t talk or eat, and fits hit him several times a day. As the Union-Tribune reported, this is all due to a genetic condition so rare that he’s the only person in the world to have it. So how can he get treatment? A local nonprofit is hoping to come to the rescue of Connor and children like him. For now, however, the fits keep coming and Connor’s mother continues to comfort him, “I’m right here. I love you. You’re okay.'”

On the lighter side: this is definitely not chicken food

• The San Diego Chicken – aka Ted Giannoulas – “edited the [baseball] the world of mascots, ”recalls the Washington Post. “The chicken shtick was much more elaborate and daring than the previous mascots; Sports reporter Jack Murphy once called him “an embryonic chicken-feather Charles Chaplin.”

Sports website fanbuzz.com, meanwhile, reports that baseball mascots make a lot more money than you might think. Giannoulas once told a reporter that he was making up to $ 40,000 per game before he retired.

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