Video Flimflam

We are appalled to read that the San Diego airport authority put out a $200,000 promotional video on NBC following John McCain’s acceptance speech at the GOP convention (“Breaking News,” October 9). Are there no improvements to be made at the airport itself without squandering public money on such flimflam?

But then again, we know that ex–school superintendent now–airport authority chairman Alan Bersin is a trained professional when it comes to spending tax dollars on self-promotion and empty gestures. Special thanks for this mess go to ex-legislator Steve Peace and legislative compadres like Christine Kehoe in Sacramento for peeling off the airport authority from port district oversight.

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A “Breaking News” story on October 9 misidentified the venue in which John McCain delivered his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for president. The speech was given at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Un-American Checkpoints

Re “Illegal Ways to Avoid the Border Wait” (Cover Story, October 9). Perhaps if the Border Patrol stopped running internal U.S. checkpoints and roadblocks around our county and stopped sending mobile teams to prowl through inner-city neighborhoods and instead focused these officers at the actual border, like it says in their name, “BORDER Patrol,” then the border would be more secure and cross-border traffic would flow faster and more efficiently, with the added benefit of the U.S. not having to devolve into a third world type of police state.

My experience is that San Diego–assigned Border Patrol officers presume they have the same authority to stop and search vehicles on county roads that they have at the actual border. Accordingly, they are illegally searching and popping open people’s car trunks by scaring and bullying people into giving “consent” to search the vehicles. They coyly call it engaging in “consensual conversation” and “consent,” but it is actually a conversation and search that you refuse at your own peril. You either give consent for them to search your cars and trunks and tell them anything they want to know, or else you are pulled over to the side of the freeway, where you will have to sit on a bench and be stared at and humiliated in front of all of the other motorists passing by while agents verbally work you over.

In my case, as I approached the 94 freeway checkpoint one sunny Saturday afternoon, I innocently gave the first officer who was manning the actual booth both my wife’s and my passports, but instead of then waving me on my way, as I had established citizenship with the best of all documentation, a passport, the agent then asked me to “give consent” to him to search my trunk! I went “huh!!” and then the full impact of the stop hit me fast!

I quickly shot back at him that I already went through immigration at Tecate and that I was not going to open anything for him. He repeated his question a few more times and then directed me to pull over to the side of the road, whereupon three other officers descended on my car, ordering us out of the car and to step away from the car and to sit on a bench. The other three officers each asked me to give consent to search my trunk, and I repeatedly told them no, that I am a paid-up member of the ACLU, and that I am refusing to give consent to search my trunk as a matter of principle, since the United States has a Bill of Rights with a Fourth Amendment that supposedly bars police state–type searches.

Subsequently, the lead officer said that either I give consent or he would bring out his dogs to smell my car, and I told him that he still did not have consent to open my trunk. By this point the officer’s demeanor showed that he appeared hell-bent on getting into my trunk one way or another.

The Border Patrol agents then brought out their phony-scam sniffing dogs, who ran around my car and then barked and sort of leapt up a few times while running around the car; whereupon the lead officer then declared that he now had the legal right to forcibly open my trunk and demanded that I give him my car key, and so I involuntarily complied. The officer then ransacked my car as well as my trunk and undercarriage for about ten minutes and of course found nothing of interest, as all I had in my trunk was a spare tire and a box of floor tile.

I don’t know if the Border Patrol either got ripped off by whomever sold them the dog or, more likely, that the dog did not signal anything at all by his bark and that the officer was, in my estimation, probably scamming me.

In my case, these agents also took my passport (which I had on me) and my California driver’s license and went inside and made photocopies of all of it to keep for their files. The officer in charge even sent an officer back inside with loud orders to copy all of the pages in my passport. (Was this to somehow scare or intimidate me?) They then returned our IDs and passports and gave me my keys back and told us nonchalantly that we could now leave.

In the midst of all this, my wife then began taking pictures of the four agents while we were sitting on the bench, and it totally freaked them out, with them running over yelling to stop taking pictures.

I found out later by searching the Internet that citizens do not have to give ID to the Border Patrol, as the stop occurred inside the U.S., and that I did not actually have to even talk to them. Accordingly, from now on it will be the Border Patrol’s problem to figure out my nationality, as I am only going to say, “Am I being detained?” and “Am I free to go?”, and I suggest all motorists stand up for freedom and do the same and not even roll down the window when stopped at these un-American checkpoints and that more videos of these encounters are in order.

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heather_m Oct. 15, 2008 @ 2:43 p.m.

I am somewhat late in my response, but I see that Mr. Gardiner has beat me to the punch. Amazing how the two people that responded to his letter felt that they could not do so without name-calling, condescension, and spite. It's a wonder why people like Mr. Gardiner (and myself) can't seem to have a good time in San Diego! What with all of the open, intellectual minds and all. Here's how it is: People have a right to their opinions. That being said, Benjamin H. and Goatskull are welcome to their happy, sunny views of the city where we all live. On the flip side, not everyone enjoys beer, burritos, "tons and tons" of outdoor activities and perpetually temperate weather. Crazy, I know! Can you believe that people actually enjoy different things than other people? For the record, my boyfriend and I moved down here two years ago (from the Bay Area) because this is where he got accepted to grad school. So I guess you could say that we did, in fact, have to move here. It is ridiculous to suggest that we can "always [just] leave". I have met plenty of people around here who are waiting for the day when they can move back home, just as we are. For now, we try and make the best of it. I don't begrudge the happy people their happiness. Glad you like it here! Good for you! And when people say they don't enjoy the Bay Area, do I take it personally? No! It's just different strokes for different folks. Yes, the sunsets down here are nice. No, the scads of image-obsessed bubbleheads are not. There are pros and cons of any living environment, and you could definitely do worse than San Diego. But does that mean that we have to throw on a thong and fake smile, down a brewski and head down to the beach to engage in the endless singles' meat market, and just suck it up? No. Some of us simply don't enjoy living here. There is not much more to it than that. Being from Montana, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that San Diego doesn't even know what a redneck is, but that's a different debate. As for Benjamin H. and Goatskull, it might help you grow as people if you tried to see the world through someone else's eyes. Open your minds a little. We're all human, after all, so what's the big deal? Why are you so defensive?

Hm, I guess I'm not suffering in silence anymore! What a relief. Now, can't we all just get along?


Goatskull Oct. 24, 2008 @ 11:56 a.m.

OK Ms. Heather_m, Here is my response to you. I will start off by saying that I respect what you had to say more than Mr. Gardiner. At least you just simply implied that SD is not your cup of tea and you did say you try to make the best of it while you’re here. I agree that people DO have a right to their opinion and as such they also have a right to express their opinion about some one if they don’t like that person’s opinion. Mr. Gardiner came off as a snobbish little twit. Yes I am name calling him. You said “On the flip side, not everyone enjoys beer, burritos, "tons and tons" of outdoor activities and perpetually temperate weather.” Very true, but he seems to think of himself as culturally superior to those of us who do like those things. It’s one thing to not like it here (or anywhere) but quite another to write a letter to a local paper implying how much the town sucks and how much better you are for thinking so. He did come off that way. Mr. Gardiner I guess seems to like the arts. Yeah our cultural scene leaves much to be desired, but has he checked out areas like Hillcrest (where I live), North Park, South Park, Kensington, Golden Hill, University Heights? Does he know about events like Ray At Night, Thursday Night Thing (TNT), and many more? If so what did he think? We do have little pockets of it here and there. I have to wonder too. What kinds of things does he like to do that SD seems to lack?

You said: “No, the scads of image-obsessed bubbleheads are not. There are pros and cons of any living environment, and you could definitely do worse than San Diego. But does that mean that we have to throw on a thong and fake smile, down a brewski and head down to the beach to engage in the endless singles' meat market, and just suck it up?” I’ll admit that people like that are annoying and quite honestly do not relate to them in any way shape for form, but that doesn’t make up everybody who hangs out at the beach. As a matter of fact, people like that are often the butt ends of jokes by that majority of people who live in and love San Diego. If nothing else they are just sort of a comical part of the atmosphere. BTW, I’ve seen no shortage of people who fit that description at Chrissy Field during the summer, so the Bay Area (which I love as a matter of fact) has its share also. The bay area is quite the beer drinking sports bar kind of town. Maybe even more so than here. People up there love their Niners and there Giants. It’s quite the microbrew town too (which is a good thing).

Anyway the most two most laughable things he said was “the rest of us will suffer in silence” and the part about his relatives from Hawaii considering this a redneck town, something even you acknowledged was silly. If part of why he hates it here is because he puts of with mock and ridicule from people like oh well.


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