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Poll finds majority of San Diego, Imperial County officeholders experienced threats

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Poll finds majority of San Diego, Imperial County officeholders experienced threats


Two-thirds of officeholders in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties have received threats, according to the second phase of a University of San Diego survey on harassment of elected officials.

The initial findings showed no significant difference in race or party affiliation. But findings did show a huge gender gap.

Eight percent of men reported weekly intimidation, compared to 31% of women. Thirty-eight percent of men and 69% of women said they experienced hostility monthly. A social media analysis also showed local women politicians received up to four times as many aggressive replies as their male counterparts.

“The conclusion is that women are experiencing a volume of threats, almost in order of magnitude worse than men,” said John Porten, research manager at USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice.

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The survey is being conducted by the institute’s Violence, Inequality and Power Lab. Final results will be released in September. The first phase of research in 2023 polled elected officials in San Diego County. It showed that 75% said they had been threatened and harassed, prompting them to consider leaving office and to censor what they said publicly to shield themselves from hostility.

“People are shocked by that and they should be shocked by that,” said Rachel Locke, director of the Violence, Inequality and Power Lab. “We need to translate that shock into action. That’s how we figure out the right solutions.”

Researchers expanded their reach this year to neighboring Imperial and Riverside counties and found similar sentiments.

“This isn’t a San Diego problem,” Locke said. “We wanted to be able to do a little bit of comparison between San Diego and adjacent counties. Our goal in the medium term is to do California-wide research.”

She said the vitriol aimed at elected officials is happening on social media, in direct emails and at public meetings. A recent KPBS study of public comments at the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meetings showed incivility has surged since the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Locke said the nastiness is leaving its mark on people in office, with some sharing what others have advised them on how to deal with the harassment.

“I’m being told to toughen up,” said Locke paraphrasing poll respondents. “I’m being told to have thicker skin. I’m being told this really isn’t a problem, but I can’t sleep at night. I don’t feel safe. I’m worried about where I go in my community. Am I crazy? Am I crazy to feel these ways?”

Just as women and racial minorities reported in last year’s survey, conservative white male politicians are now reporting that threats against them are intensifying and they are scared.

Porten said researchers are still interpreting those findings, but one possible explanation is that the harassers may be buoyed by their own success and want to target officeholders, previously considered invulnerable.

“The conclusion that we’ve drawn looking at our results and some results across the country that say similar things is that there was a group of people that were seen as easy targets, and now the threats and harassment have started to move out from those groups,” Porten said. “If it worked to intimidate these people, there’s no reason that we can’t intimidate others.”

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Porten added that more elected officials are reporting that some of the hostility is coming from colleagues.

“That’s not something we heard as much last year,” he said.



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San Diego, CA

Enhance La Jolla looks to businesses to help increase Village cleanup efforts

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Enhance La Jolla looks to businesses to help increase Village cleanup efforts


As part of a broader mission to keep The Village clean, the board of Enhance La Jolla is calling on local businesses to pay more attention to the conditions of their storefronts.

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt expressed frustration during the board’s July 18 meeting with the ongoing presence of litter in the area.

The nonprofit manages the Maintenance Assessment District in The Village with authority to enhance services provided by the city of San Diego, including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement and additional trash collection. It also can privately fund and complete projects in public spaces, such as park and trash can upgrades, bench installation, sign augmentation, public art and tree canopies on main thoroughfares.

“Walking through the district, I sometimes get so frustrated because we work seven days a week and it’s not enough,” Witt said. “It’s so hard to keep up with trash and sidewalks and the way people treat public property. … [But] I think we have made a huge difference.”

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Board member Andy Nelson said that when he and others walk the streets, “we are prepared to go into the merchants and ask them to make sure they keep the front of their retail spaces as clean as possible, and that [tends to] help a lot.”

He directed this message to merchants: “If you see some trash in front of your store, pick it up.”

Some board members acknowledged that not all businesses will comply.

“We talk to the merchants on a regular basis,” Witt said. “It’s interesting to see what they do or don’t do. Every day is an adventure.”

Two members of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association — board President Japhet Perez and treasurer Bill Podway — attended the Enhance La Jolla meeting and thanked the board for alerting them to the issue.

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Two La Jolla businessmen take trash removal into their own hands in 2018. (File)

MAD Manager Brian Earley said he wants public trash cans to be emptied more often. Some cans, he said, have sensors that indicate how full they are, and they often are emptied when they are 80 percent full.

“We’re finding that 80 percent is a full trash can,” Earley said. He requested that the city empty cans when they are 60 percent full. He said he hadn’t received a response yet.

Witt said he also has been in contact with city representatives about street sweeping.

“I feel strongly that our streets are not being swept … like the city says they are,” Witt said, citing his own observations of sweeping trucks not doing a thorough job.

He said those who power-wash the streets for Enhance La Jolla are going to “start documenting when and where the street sweepers [work]. … Because we want our streets cleaned.”

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Witt said unswept streets can be reported by emailing manager@enhancelajolla.org.

Other Enhance La Jolla news

Term limits: Given Enhance La Jolla’s involvement in long-term projects — such as the upcoming Village streetscape project with the La Jolla Community Foundation — the board voted to change its bylaws to allow members to serve up to three three-year terms instead of the current two three-year terms.

“In six years, you are just kind of getting your stride,” said board member Ann Dynes. “In this case, given the expertise of the people that formed this organization … there are people whose role is sufficiently integral to the mission, and this seems like a better way to proceed.”

Any board member who wants a third term would still need to run for reelection.

Phase 1 of the streetscape project is planned to include the addition of stormwater drainage channels, sidewalk and crosswalk paving, landscaping, improved lighting and expanded pedestrian spaces on Girard Avenue between Prospect and Silverado streets.

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Donations are still being accepted, and construction on Girard between Prospect and Wall streets is set to begin in January and conclude in May.

Enhance La Jolla Day: The board presents an annual Enhance La Jolla Day in the spring to provide chances for the community to learn about the group’s efforts, engage in community service projects and more. But this year, the board is considering something new.

Enhance La Jolla member Barbara Bry said she is considering a La Jolla trivia contest in mid-October for the next Enhance La Jolla Day.

“We would invite anyone in the community to come and be randomly assigned to a team when they get there,” said Bry, a former San Diego City Council member who lives in La Jolla. “Part of the trivia could be questions about what different organizations do or the history of La Jolla. I want to make it fun for people.”

A committee is to be formed within 30 days to write questions and design the format of the event. Volunteers for the committee do not need to be on the Enhance La Jolla board.

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Next meeting: Enhance La Jolla meets quarterly or as needed. The next scheduled meeting is at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla. Learn more at enhancelajolla.org. ♦

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With AI, jets and police squadrons, Paris is securing the Olympics — and worrying critics

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With AI, jets and police squadrons, Paris is securing the Olympics — and worrying critics


PARIS (AP) — A year ago, the head of the Paris Olympics boldly declared that France’s capital would be “ the safest place in the world ” when the Games open this Friday. Tony Estanguet’s confident forecast looks less far-fetched now with squadrons of police patrolling Paris’ streets, fighter jets and soldiers primed to scramble, and imposing metal-fence security barriers erected like an iron curtain on both sides of the River Seine that will star in the opening show.

France’s vast police and military operation is in large part because the July 26-Aug. 11 Games face unprecedented security challenges. The city has repeatedly suffered deadly extremist attacks and international tensions are high because of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Rather than build an Olympic park with venues grouped together outside of the city center, like Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or London in 2012, Paris has chosen to host many of the events in the heart of the bustling capital of 2 million inhabitants, with others dotted around suburbs that house millions more. Putting temporary sports arenas in public spaces and the unprecedented choice to stage a river-borne opening ceremony stretching for kilometers (miles) along the Seine, makes safeguarding them more complex.

Olympic organizers also have cyberattack concerns, while rights campaigners and Games critics are worried about Paris’ use of AI-equipped surveillance technology and the broad scope and scale of Olympic security.

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Paris, in short, has a lot riding on keeping 10,500 athletes and millions of visitors safe. Here’s how it aims to do it.

The security operation, by the numbers

A Games-time force of up to 45,000 police and gendarmes is also backed up by a 10,000-strong contingent of soldiers that has set up the largest military camp in Paris since World War II, from which soldiers should be able to reach any of the city’s Olympic venues within 30 minutes.

Armed military patrols aboard vehicles and on foot have become common in crowded places in France since gunmen and suicide bombers acting in the names of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group repeatedly struck Paris in 2015. They don’t have police powers of arrest but can tackle attackers and restrain them until police arrive. For visitors from countries where armed street patrols aren’t the norm, the sight of soldiers with assault rifles might be jarring, just as it was initially for people in France.

“At the beginning, it was very strange for them to see us and they were always avoiding our presence, making a detour,” said Gen. Éric Chasboeuf, deputy commander of the counter-terror military force, called Sentinelle.

“Now, it’s in the landscape,” he said.

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Rafale fighter jets, airspace-monitoring AWACS surveillance flights, Reaper surveillance drones, helicopters that can carry sharpshooters, and equipment to disable drones will police Paris skies, which will be closed during the opening ceremony by a no-fly zone extending for 150 kilometers (93 miles) around the capital. Cameras twinned with artificial intelligence software — authorized by a law that expands the state’s surveillance powers for the Games — will flag potential security risks, such as abandoned packages or crowd surges,

France is also getting help from more than 40 countries that, together, have sent at least 1,900 police reinforcements.

Trump assassination attempt highlights Olympic risks

Attacks by lone individuals are major concern, a risk driven home most recently to French officials by the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.

Some involved in the Olympic security operation were stunned that the gunman armed with an AR-style rifle got within range of the former U.S. president.

“No one can guarantee that there won’t be mistakes. There, however, it was quite glaring,” said Gen. Philippe Pourqué, who oversaw the construction of a temporary camp in southeast Paris housing 4,500 soldiers from the Sentinelle force.

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In France, in the last 13 months alone, men acting alone have carried out knife attacks that targeted tourists in Paris, and children in a park in an Alpine town, among others. A man who stabbed a teacher to death at his former high school in northern France in October had been under surveillance by French security services for suspected Islamic radicalization.

With long and bitter experience of deadly extremist attacks, France has armed itself with a dense network of police units, intelligence services and investigators who specialize in fighting terrorism, and suspects in terrorism cases can be held longer for questioning.

Hundreds of thousands of background checks have scrutinized Olympic ticket-holders, workers and others involved in the Games and applicants for passes to enter Paris’ most tightly controlled security zone, along the Seine’s banks. The checks blocked more than 3,900 people from attending, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. He said some were flagged for suspected Islamic radicalization, left- or right-wing political extremism, significant criminal records and other security concerns.

“We’re particularly attentive to Russian and Belorussian citizens,” Darmanin added, although he stopped short of linking exclusions to Russia’s war in Ukraine and Belarus’ role as an ally of Moscow.

Darmanin said 155 people considered to be “very dangerous” potential terror threats are also being kept away from the opening ceremony and the Games, with police searching their homes for weapons and computers in some cases.

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He said intelligence services haven’t identified any proven terror plots against the Games “but we are being extremely attentive.”

Critics fear intrusive Olympic security will stay after the Games

Campaigners for digital rights worry that Olympic surveillance cameras and AI systems could erode privacy and other freedoms, and zero in on people without fixed homes who spend a lot of time in public spaces.

Saccage 2024, a group that has campaigned for months against the Paris Games, took aim at the scope of the Olympic security, describing it as a “repressive arsenal” in a statement to The Associated Press.

“And this is not a French exception, far from it, but a systematic occurrence in host countries,” it said. “Is it reasonable to offer one month of ‘festivities’ to the most well-off tourists at the cost of a long-term securitization legacy for all residents of the city and the country?”

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Jockeys Umberto Rispoli, Hector Berrios shine on Del Mar’s opening day

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Jockeys Umberto Rispoli, Hector Berrios shine on Del Mar’s opening day


Jockeys Umberto Rispoli and Hector Berrios have at least several things in common.

One, they are formidable forces on the turf.

Two, they each won one of the opening day features with strong stretch rides in one-mile turf tests as Del Mar commenced its 85th season Saturday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 22,284. Defending jockey champion Juan Hernandez finished second in both races after winning three races earlier.

But the biggest news of the day for bettors was a single winning ticket in the Pick Six worth $254,450.80. Although favorites won seven of the 11 races, two long shots in the Pick Six — Schwarzmeier ($68.40 in the eighth) and Atitian ($72.20 in the 11th) — eliminated all but one winning bet.

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“We had a terrific opening day,” said Del Mar president and chief operating officer Josh Rubinstein. “The racing was superb. Overall, what a great start. great start. I’m proud of our team working around the clock to get the facility into incredible shape.”

The handle of $23.9 million was up 10 percent over a year ago.

As for Berrios and Rispoli, each won two turf races Saturday with Berrios also taking the finale with Atitian.

Berrios and Iscreamuscream held off Zona Verde in a stretch duel to win the $200,000 San Clemente Handicap. Two races earlier, Rispoli rallied Formidable Man from eighth to victory over the final quarter mile to pick up his second turf win of the day in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes.

Favorite Iscreamuscream trailed only briefly on the backstretch in the San Clemente, then out-finished Zona Verde and the charging Medoro in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length.

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Juan Hernandez riding Zona Verde, left, and Hector Berrios riding Iscreamuscream, right, head towards the finish line during the ninth race of Opening Day at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Saturday, July 20, 2024 in Del Mar, CA. (Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“When she felt the other fillies, her speed kicked in,” Berrios said of Iscreamuscream.

Said trainer Phil D’Amato: “I thought she might be stalking, but she ended up on the lead and showed her class. I think she will take a step forward off this two-turn race.”

Early Saturday morning, Rispoli was seen walking the Del Mar track. The reconnaissance served him well: he moved Formidable Man five-wide on the far turn before pulling away down the stretch to a 1½-length win over Guy Named Joe. Favored King of Gosford was third entering the stretch but finished sixth in the field of 11.

It was Rispoli’s third win in the Oceanside Stakes.

“It went good today,” said Rispoli. “I’ve done well in this race before and things went well today. He broke well. We got squeezed a little after that, but not too bad. Then he went outside and he had room to run. It was all good after that.”

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Trainer Michael McCarthy didn’t have the same confidence as the field entered the far turn.

“He was a little bit farther back than I thought he would be,” said McCarthy. “But he was rolling there in the last quarter mile. I wasn’t crazy with what went on in the first half mile. Obviously, he was excited.”

Umberto Rispoli, atop Formidable Man, reacts after winning the seventh race during Opening Day at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Saturday, July 20, 2024 in Del Mar, CA. (Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Umberto Rispoli, atop Formidable Man, reacts after winning the seventh race during Opening Day at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Saturday, July 20, 2024 in Del Mar, CA. (Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

McCarthy said Formidable Man could be headed to the Del Mar Derby.

Day No. 2

Sunday’s 11-race card will feature two, $100,000 stakes races on the turf and the return of three-time trainer champion Richard Baltas to the entry box.

Baltas, who last fielded horses at Del Mar in 2021 will have morning-line favorite Ag Bullett in the Osunitas Stakes for older fillies and mares at one-mile on the turf.

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Baltas, who had one starter on Saturday in a claiming race, shared the 2017 summer meeting trainer title with D’Amato then won back-to-back fall meeting titles in 2019 and 2020. Baltas, 63, hadn’t fielded a horse in California since May of 2022 when he returned to Santa Anita last December.

Baltas is excited to be back at Del Mar.

“Everybody gets excited here,” he said. “They’re all in a better mood. There are more fans, which is great for the sport. There’s great turf racing here. And it’s fun.”

Ag Bullet hasn’t raced since finishing ninth in a Grade II stakes race at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend. Before that race, the 4-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy had won four of her five previous starts with the last two under Rispoli, who will be aboard Sunday.

Joining Ag Bullet in the nine-filly Osunitas field are two other strong 4-year-olds — Bob Baffert’s Chilean import Richi (Hernandez) and the John Shirreffs’ trained Justique (Mike Smith), who won the 2022 Desi Arnaz Stakes during Del Mar’s fall meeting.

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Smith will also be aboard First Peace, the morning-line favorite of the Wickerr, a one-mile test for older Cal-breds. It will be Smith’s 12th straight ride (three wins, five seconds, two thirds and a fourth so far) on the 4-year-old son of Funtastic. Antonio Fresu will ride expected second-favorite Almendares. The pair teams to place second in the graded Del Mar Derby last Sept. 3.

Notable

Newcomer jockey Reylu Gutierrez scored his first Del Mar win with the John Sadler-trained Schwarzmeier in a stretch duel with favorite Mirahmadi.

• Favorites won seven of the 11 races:  1. Atomic Drop (Antonio Fresu, $4.80); 2. Getaway Car (Hernandez, $4.60); 4. De’ Medici (Hernandez, $5.00); 5. In Theory (Hernandez, $7.40); 6. Cayucos (Kyle Frey, $3.20); 9. Formidable Man and 10. Thorne House (Tiago Pereira, $5.60).

•  Trainer Mark Glatt had three wins Saturday (Atomic Drop, Tigerhon in the third and Thorne House). Baffert and McCarthy each had two winners apiece.

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