The Morning Report
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Dan Shinoff is a lawyer who has done a lot of work for schools and school districts in San Diego County. But faith in his abilities and his ethics have been shaken recently, after a case he lost left the San Ysidro School district with a $12 million bill. Their school board quickly sued Shinoff’s law firm for malpractice, Ashly McGlone reports.
It’s a followup to her piece earlier in the week about Shinoff’s longtime hold on the legal market for schools loosening. “[San Ysidro officials] came out swinging, alleging Shinoff gave advice aimed at increasing his own billings, not helping the district,” McGlone writes.
Shinoff has also been caught up in past legal fiascos in Mira Costa College and Solana Beach.
Coastal Commission: San Diego Explained
The California Coastal Commission doesn’t usually make big headlines, so people may not be familiar with what it does. But with stories recent stories emerging about the commission ousting its executive director and flexing its muscle against Sea World, a lot more attention is being given to this group charged with protecting the environment and public access to the entire California coast. Maya Srikrishnan joined NBC 7’s Monica Dean to review what the commission’s job is and why it’s recently been a hot topic in our most recent San Diego Explained.
• The commission announced Thursday they are tapping Senior Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth to replace their executive director in the interim.
The Learning Curve: The Future of ESL Learning
English-learning students in San Diego Unified schools have had a bumpy road recently. It used to be that English learner support teachers, or ELSTs, would be assigned to one school and would work with students and teachers there to support english learners. But in a shake-out in 2014 “most schools elected to cut English learner support teachers,” Mario Koran reports.
The future looks different. ELSTs still exist, but they work across schools, with some other English-learner support coming from the school district. “[Superintendent] Marten’s goal is to have every teacher, throughout the district, trained” in methods effective for assisting students for whom English is their second language.
Opinion: Simple Majority Will Do for Citizens Plan
Jim Sutton, the well-known elections and political law attorney, is working on the Citizens Plan, the initiative that aims to raise hotel room taxes from 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent and allow hotel owners to deduct from that up to four percentage points if they invest in tourism marketing and a convention center. If they don’t, the money flows to the city’s general fund. But hotels would have an obvious incentive to, as they already would be paying the tax no matter what — might as well get the marketing and convention space.
Recently, April Boling opined on our site that the plan is clearly a special tax where the money will pay for a specific purpose. Therefore it triggers the state law that requires it get support from two-thirds of voters. If it was just money for City Hall to use how it pleases, it would only need a simple majority.
Sutton has now responded. The plan will not require a two-thirds majority of voters to approve it, he writes. His money quote:
“Among the reasons the Citizens’ Plan enacts a general tax and requires only a majority vote are: whether hotels will avail themselves of the tax credits to promote tourism and expand the Convention Center is completely voluntary and by definition not yet known, and there is no guarantee of any funding, or any particular amount of funding, for these specific purposes; any hotel tax revenues deposited into the general fund will be used for general governmental purposes as determined by the Council, and not for any specific purpose; and the Citizens’ Plan does not constitute “ballot box budgeting” of the type implicated when voters are asked to approve a tax to be used for a named purpose, does not tie the Council’s hands relative to spending and does not involve any bonds or indebtedness.”
Here’s Scott Lewis’ recent explanation of how we got here — it’s a decade-long story of efforts to raise the hotel-room tax and the many ways they have failed.
• Another lawsuit led by Briggs, seeking to stop the city from using “lease-revenue” bond money to build infrastructure, crashed at the California Supreme Court on Thursday. (Times of San Diego) Here’s Liam Dillon’s classic explanation of how those bonds work.
Crowd Rushes into D1 Race
A race for the District 1 City Council seat has suddenly gone from a tight one between two opponents to a crowded field of five. Of the three newcomers to the race, one is a “political novice” and the other two are closely tied to sitting Councilwoman Sherri Lightner who has reached her term limit.”Some have speculated the last-minute growth in candidates was intentional,” KPBS reports. The idea is that they tried to crowd the ballot to make it hard for Republican Ray Ellis to get 50 percent of the vote in June, ensuring the race would proceed to a run off in November.
Filner Due For Process
After settling five of the seven lawsuits brought against him, Bob Filner is scheduled to have a day in court on Friday to fight allegations of sexual harassment. The lawsuit stems from an incident in Mission Bay Park where Filner is alleged to have deployed the infamous “Filner Headlock” and touched his victim inappropriately, the Union-Tribune reports. It’s the first civil trial for a man who left the mayor’s office pleading for due process.
Awash in Water
In the midst of record drought, San Diegans are being allowed to step up their water usage. Due to the water desalination plant in Carlsbad coming online, water managers have pressed for the state to acknowledge the region’s efforts to diversify the water supply. By winning that argument, “the adjustments will nearly cut in half required water savings throughout the region” for residential water users, the Union-Tribune reports.
• This La Jolla High teacher has been making $119,000 while on administrative leave for a year, and no one wants to say why. (NBC 7)
• The San Diego Convention Center is killing it on bookings for future years. (KPBS)
• The case of Rebecca Zahau, whose death in a Coronado mansion was ruled a suicide, is going back to court on a wrongful death lawsuit. (NBC 7)
• Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall feels rill bad about how that whole Measure A thing went down. (Times of San Diego)
• The California legislature has approved a bill that would raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, except for military members. The bill still needs Governor Brown’s signature, and he’s coy about discussing it. (KPBS)
• Legalized assisted suicide comes to California on June 9. (NBC 7)
• Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez got a sweet new gig in the State Assembly. Recall she said she got snubbed last time around when fellow San Diegan Toni Atkins was handing out committee assignments.
Joys of Flying
Our most controversial Senior Report Andrew Keatts was back at it again on Twitter yesterday, this time declaring his love for one of the most loathed industries in America. The man who originally brought you a war on the humble and delicious breakfast burrito now wants people to know he thinks airline baggage fees are great, and thinks we should be charged for carry-ons. Small seats and cramped space for legs? “I like those things too,” Keatts writes.
No word yet on how he feels about Baltimore passengers flying to LAX pumping loud music on the plane and then getting whaled on by fellow passengers (U-T). Presumably if it meant discounted tickets he might go for it?
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the San Ysidro school district was stuck with a $12 million bill as a result of a settlement negotiated by attorney Dan Shinoff. The $12 million bill was the result of a jury verdict.