A local lawyer named Rafael Castellanos is running for city attorney in San Diego. Castellanos says other candidates are circulating rumors about a sexual harassment allegation by a former co-worker, and he tried to clear up the matter the other day during a conversation on VOSD’s podcast.
“Ultimately, all of those allegations against me were completely discredited,” Castellanos told us. VOSD’s Liam Dillon has been investigating what really happened to the case, and he reports that there was a settlement without a withdrawal of the allegations. The settlement was not public record, Dillon found, though Castellanos said it was.
“While Castellanos never admitted to doing anything wrong or physically intimidating in his deposition or settlement,” Dillon writes, the plaintiff’s “accusations against him under oath remain on the record.” Dillon also talked to several local attorneys who offered their thoughts on how to interpret the situation: They mostly agree that the case doesn’t prove the plaintiff is wrong.
Castellanos said Wednesday that “the plaintiff was not credible” and “it was a meritless law suit motivated by money.”
Opinion: Protect the Most Vulnerable From El Niño
In a VOSD commentary, local think tank analyst Vince Vasquez warns that his research suggests about 60,000 San Diego-area residents live in areas prone to floods, meaning they face special danger this winter. Action is needed, he urges: “Why not be proactive in asking for helping hands and donations now if they could make a positive impact for prevention?”
• According to the U-T, Councilmen David Alvarez and Scott Sherman want the city “to more aggressively pursue emergency permits to clear clogged drainage channels.”
Newsom on Her Decision to Run
Local Democrats have been facing a tough question: Should they spend money and resources to put up a candidate for mayor in 2016 when it seems — at least for the moment — that this person would be a sacrificial lamb to popular Mayor Kevin Faulconer? Or should they at least try?
A local union official and community activist named Gretchen Newsom isn’t willing to wait for the Dems to figure things out. She’s surprised locals by declaring herself a candidate.
Why is she running? “Somebody needed to do this, and I’ve got the background and the experience,” she said. “I want to change the dialogue and talk about different issues. I’ve agitated the spin cycle.”
North County Report: Ballot Measures Galore
VOSD’s weekly North County Report has details about ballot measures in the works in cities across the region. Carlsbad voters may consider the future of that big luxury shopping center on the south shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, voters in the area covered by Tri-City hospital district may put a cap on the CEO’s pay and the little Del Mar elementary district has big plans to raise $126 million for improvements. (A bond measure failed in 2012, and the district is trying to figure out another approach.)
Meanwhile, the Associated Press takes a look at the much-ballyhooed Carlsbad water plant that aims to produce drinkable water from seawater. It, the AP says, “will help determine the future of seawater desalination in the U.S.” The only other big plant in the U.S. was a mess.
• In other water news, Bloomberg Business visits Imperial Valley and finds that 500 farms there control the equivalent of “about a third of the water used by California’s cities.”
Transportation Roundup: Talmadge Tussle
• The city may install a bike lane on a Mid-City street where a teen died in a hit-and-run. Residents say the area is unsafe, KPBS reports. Meanwhile, a battle in the Mid-City Talmadge neighborhood has been brewing over a local planning group’s bid (failed so far) to close off a street to allow a bike lane to go through. A critic claims it’s a bid to create a gated neighborhood.
• Traffic is getting worse in South Bay, NBC 7 reports, and “drivers will not see much relief yet — at least not in the near future.”
• The airport has opened new rooms for nursing mothers. (Times of SD)
• In airport-adjacent news, the Port wants developers to give it some ideas about a new vision for a chunk of Harbor Island even as it mixes it up in court with state coastal officials on whether it has an obligation to provide some affordable places for people to stay. (U-T)
A Newspaper Empire to Rule Them All
Tribune Publishing, which owns the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune, has its eye on the Orange County Register and (Riverside) Press-Enterprise. If the chain buys those papers, it’ll own the four largest daily newspapers in Southern California and preside over a stunning publishing empire even in these days of declining newspaper circulation.
Hot New House Trend: Car Elevators
Maybe Mitt Romney was onto something. Car “lifts” — apparently a bit different than a car “elevator” — are becoming more popular in the county, the U-T says, with hundreds being installed to allow more vehicle storage. The city of San Diego, the paper says, actually encourages them because they help projects meet parking requirements without needing to build garages underground at high cost.
National City, You Got Served
Wallethub is out with a ranking of the best and worst of 1,268 smaller cities based on affordability (which explains why no California cities made the top 100), economics, education & health and quality of life.
Encinitas is the highest-rated city in San Diego County at No. 443 (but No. 1,197 in affordability). Poway is at 767, La Mesa at 849, Santee at 883 and San Marcos at 1,148. Lemon Grove, Vista, Imperial Beach, Fallbrook (a town, not a city) and National City pull up the rear at 1,169, 1,213, 1,214, 1,240 and 1,255 (eesh), respectively.
For Richest and Poorest …
California is home to the richest congressman (our own local Rep. Darrell Issa) and the poorest (a dairy farmer from Central California).
San Diego’s Rep. Scott Peters is the third-richest member of Congress from California with a net worth of $40 million. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is listed as having a net worth of negative $515,000, all from his home mortgage. (L.A. Times)
• A top Republican member of the U.S. House is pushing a bill that would ban police from using those Stingray surveillance devices without a warrant. “Stingrays are one of a class of suitcase-size devices known as ‘cell-site simulators,’ which work by pretending to be a cellphone tower in order to strip data and metadata from any phones which connect to them,” the Guardian reports. The San Diego Police Department uses them.
Quick News Hits: Complaints Left Unheard
• The city failed to track complaints against the Rural Metro ambulance service, even though the service is supposed to report them, the U-T reports. But the city is going to start now since the U-T brought it up.
• Cal State professors, including those at San Diego State and Cal State San Marcos, are ready to strike. Counselors, librarians and coaches would strike with them. (KPBS/AP)
• Ninety-one homeless people died on the streets of San Diego over the past year, CityBeat finds.
• Oops. Yesterday’s Morning Report deleted a word and left the impression that October was San Diego’s hottest month in recorded history. It was, in fact, the hottest October. And in a related story: Double rainbow alert!
Meanwhile, the autumn cold has settled in this week, prompting the usual San Diego routine: Out-of-owners and newcomers gawk in amazement as locals put on knit caps and heavy coats to cope the not-so-freezing temps. Hey, don’t look at me! I’m no weather wimp. I never break out the long underwear until it gets below 52 degrees.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.