Morning Report: Tax Hike Advances

The city’s hotel owners voted in near lockstep yesterday to increase the hotel-room tax. Only 8 percent of ballots came back opposed to the move that would generate more than $30 million a year for the next 30 years to fund the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

Cue the music, because the legal showdown is about to begin.

The vote is the biggest stride yet in an unprecedented innovation to sidestep the law that requires a vote of the people to increase taxes.

“From Day One, we’ve said, ‘Hey, there’s a Proposition 13 issue here,’” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told KPBS in February. Now, he plans to test the legality of the tax hike in court. Organized labor groups oppose the deal. The Chargers also have claimed it’s illegal.

Last week, Councilman Carl DeMaio echoed other supporters of the tax saying it was actually a “private investment of hoteliers” and therefore the people of San Diego shouldn’t vote of the proposal. It’s a position we debunked in a Fact Check.

U-T San Diego has a full report on yesterday’s vote and we outlined the plan for the tax increase in a recent San Diego Explained segment.

The City Council is expected to sign off on the proposal in May.

Mark Kersey: The Only Man for the Job

A betting man would put a hefty sum on Mark Kersey in the upcoming City Council election. He is running unopposed for the District 5 seat, a position that has allowed him to get creative with civic ideas while avoiding any hard-and-fast policy commitments.

Our reporter Rob Davis put together a reader’s guide on Kersey with everything you need to get to know San Diego’s newest City Council member. They spoke about a laundry list of issues including the growing infrastructure problems and impending financial woes facing the City of San Diego.

District 5 offered examples of the city’s consistent failure to maintain road surfaces. Davis’ ride-along with farmer Marc Lindshield was a harrowing journey on some of the cities worst streets. For that story and more, check out all of our recent coverage of the district.

Carl DeMaio on San Diego Roads: Fact Check

Of the four mayoral candidates, DeMaio has put together the most detailed plan for road repairs in the city. Perhaps his tenure as councilman in District 5 was a wake up call to the severity of the city’s problem.

We decided to Fact Check his recent statements about the conditions of San Diego’s roads in a televised debate hosted by KPBS on April 19. It looks like his assessments were right on the money and the current city budget for road repairs will not improve the situation.

San Diego’s failing road repair budget is quickly becoming one of the most heavily discussed issues for the upcoming election.

Arts Report: Aztec Beer and a Hard Body

The recent unveiling of a collection of 1930s murals and furniture from the long-shuttered Aztec Brewing Co. leads this week’s Arts Report. Our Kelly Bennett put together a two-part series on the history and preservation of the art work at the historic Barrio Logan building.

And be sure to check out Bennett’s appearance alongside KPBS reporter Angela Carone to discuss the artwork on the Evening Edition program.

Theater openings this week include “Hands on a Hard Body” at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Settle down, the musical is about a contest to win a truck. The show is a stage adaptation of the 1997 cult-classic documentary film of the same title. Encinitas Patch has the story.

Quick News Hits

• Lamb’s Player’s Theatre is setting up a “frank and open conversation” with its producing artistic director, Robert Smyth, to talk about financial challenges, personnel changes and more. It’s Saturday, April 28, at 1 p.m. The U-T recently profiled some of those challenges.

• The Padres may bring in the fences at Petco Park to deaden the pitcher’s advantage in the park and make it easier to hit some dingers (U-T). Quick trivia: In 1969, the Dodgers moved their home plate 10 feet toward center field eroding the pitcher’s advantage there.

Return of the Walmart Controversy

If attorney Cory Briggs were an animal, he would definitely be a bulldog. After his request was denied for temporary work stoppage at the Sherman Heights Walmart construction site on Monday, Briggs filed a new lawsuit yesterday claiming the Walmart project did not complete a proper environmental review, according to San Diego CityBeat.

In CityBeat’s recent article, reporter Kelly Davis notes that this is Brigg’s 19th suit against the big box retailer. For more in-depth coverage on the Walmart scandal, take a look at reporter Sandy Coronilla’s analysis of the controversy.

Final Recall Petition Certified in the Sweetwater Scandal

Recall petitions are now certified for all three board members involved in the Sweetwater Union High School District trustee scandal, reports NBC 7 San Diego.

In December last year, the homes of several board members were raided in connection with alleged campaign finance corruption and bribery charges. Our reporter Rob Davis put together a guide to understanding the finer points of the scandal.

With details like phantom consultants and an actual money tree for donating bribes, the story is certainly worth revisiting. Sometimes the facts are indeed stranger than fiction.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com.

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