Want the news summarized?
Subscribe to The Morning Report.
We’re finally getting to the end of the probes into alleged misconduct in the office of the city auditor, whose job is to act as a kind of City Hall watchdog. So far, the investigations have cost San Diego taxpayers more than $120,000. Now, we may be hit with another bill: the legal costs facing the city auditor himself.
The mayor may end up making the ultimate decision about whether the city will pay, our story reports. It’s not clear how much the auditor wants in reimbursement.
Analyzing the Council Race
Here’s a rundown of what to watch in the run-off election for the City Council seat representing much of southeastern San Diego. Since both candidates are quite similar on the issues, their support may hinge on things like labor support, endorsements and the sensitive issue of sexual orientation in an area where voters overwhelmingly opposed gay marriage rights in 2008.
• The local media considered four of the nine council candidates to be major contenders based on their spending and backgrounds. But one of them, Bruce Williams, landed in seventh place, not in the top four.
So did the media (including us) miss the boat on the candidates who mattered? Perhaps, but remember that races with fewer voters are hard to call: only 136 votes separated Williams from a tie for fourth place.
• In other City Hall news, we report on how the city is still looking into the status of “managed competition.” Some council members aren’t happy about the possibility of missed savings.
Retroactive Buyout for Retired Teachers
U-T San Diego discovered Wednesday that San Diego Unified School District was expanding its buyout program for veteran teachers and that some who had already retiredwould be getting the $25,000. As we explained weeks ago, the district is counting on 300 people quitting this year to balance its budget.
How Community Blueprints Work (or Don’t)
“Community plan updates help neighborhoods articulate a vision for their future. But they’re also expensive, inefficient and complicated.” That was the take-home message from a community forum moderated this week by our land-use reporter Andrew Keatts.
The forum was held in Allied Gardens, one of several neighborhoods on the eastern side of San Diego near Interstate 8 that are prime for the picking when it comes to new development.
Our recap includes comments from participants, featuring this one from local planner Howard Blackson: “San Diego is caught up in things like density … and that has nothing to do with your vision. That has nothing to do with your … community character. It is a measurement of a number of units in an acre. The character of the place is what matters.”
San Diego Jails Lead in Death Rate
In an investigative piece, CityBeat uncovers a huge death rate at San Diego County jails: “Between 2007 and 2012, 60 people died while wards of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s five-jail detention system,” including 15 suicides and five homicides, plus five drug-related accidents.
CityBeat says its investigation, which will continue to be published over the next several weeks, raises “significant concerns over whether the San Diego Sheriff’s Department is doing enough to reduce inmate deaths.”
The death rate in county jails is higher than in large counties in California for 2007-2012 and 90 percent higher than the national average for 2010.
The sheriff’s department didn’t express concern when confronted by CityBeat and prefers to look at its numbers differently in a way that makes it stand out less.
• KPCC, a public radio station, finds evidence that the state’s approach to mental health in prisons (that’s a separate system from San Diego County’s jails) is deeply flawed, despite billions spent, and unable to prevent prisoner suicides
The Peripatetic Mayor
• U-T says Mayor Bob Filner updated reporters on several issues including labor negotiations and medical marijuana rules.
He also said he has a plan to use trams to get cars out of Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama, and he will endorse in the sole City Council race.
Also: the mayor is looking into airing Padres games on the city’s cable station while the standoff continues between Time Warner Cable, which serves much of the city, and Fox Sports San Diego, which airs the games, the U-T reports.
• Can’t get enough of the anti-DeMaio smear campaign scandal? Political insiders will find internal emails, here and here, published by the U-T to be chock full of intrigue. Or check the latest rebuttal to criticism from the local freelance journalist who served as a tool of DeMaio’s virulent foes. (Via the Reader.)
• In a symbolic vote that didn’t seem to change anything at all, the City Council voted this week to support getting the Padres games aired on Time Warner Cable. If the vote is essentially meaningless, does anyone care? Well, Fox Sports San Diego certainly does: The Reader found that it paid to lobby the council to adopt a resolution calling for, um, a resolution.
Quick News Hits
• The Nubia Leadership Academy charter school in San Diego will close due to overspending. (KPBS)
• An L.A. Times columnist examines the hugely frustrating waits to get back into the U.S. from Mexico via car and finds some hope: an app offers guidance about current wait times and the best places to cross. The columnist quotes our own reporter Will Carless, who had a nightmare of a trip back home.
• The leftie website San Diego Free Press offers its take on the tourism funding showdown at City Hall and includes a jibe at my insistence that some progressives are addicted to outlandish conspiracy theories about local politics.
• I see our reporter Carless’ appearance in the LA Times and raise him my own debut in the Washington Post, which appreciated my mathematical twist on the pro-gay-rights equal-sign images that are all over Facebook. (“Divide” and conquer, I say! Whom? I dunno, what you got?)
You may all bow before my ingenuity. Hey wait! That doesn’t look like bowing.