The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
A proposed 7-11 store wants to sell booze in City Heights, a neighborhood that critics say is already too full of stores hawking alcohol. But it found a solution that wouldn’t make things worse, at least in theory: it would buy an existing liquor license from a shop down the street.
The city put on some conditions and allowed the deal. But, as our Maya Srikrishnan reports, “the move has nonetheless sparked a massive backlash. Both the outgoing and incoming City Council members representing City Heights oppose it. Hundreds of residents spoke out against it at a public meeting. And a local store owner poured thousands of dollars into appealing the city’s decision.”
It’s a tangled tale full of hints that business fervor — a desire to keep competitors at bay — is driving some of the opposition.
Issa Follows Through on Lawsuit Threat
• Rep. Darrell Issa, the victor in a close race, has sued his opponent Doug Applegate for libel, an unusual move regarding claims made in a political campaign. Issa wants $10 million and says he’ll donate any damages to charity.
At issue are two commercials, the U-T reports, including one that the campaign says included a doctored headline. “The lawsuit did not say if any of Issa’s business dealings, political assignments, or other potential benefits were harmed by the commercials,” the paper says. “It also did not explain how it determined that Issa suffered $10 million worth of damages.”
• “Two incoming members of the San Diego City Council urged their future colleagues on Wednesday to adopt a legislative platform opposing federal policies they expect to be adopted once President-elect Donald Trump takes office,” KPBS reports. Among other things, they don’t want the federal government to punish cities that refuse to play ball with its efforts to go after immigrants who are here without authorization.
If the City Council does more than just express opinions to people who aren’t interested in them, it could join the list of cities that seem poised to actually disrupt federal immigration efforts (and potentially pay a price).
More on S.D.’s Homeless Spike
A new National Homeless Information Project analysis suggests that the homeless spike over 2015-2016 in San Diego County is one of the biggest in the country, trailing only Los Angeles County. We have plenty of company in the West, where other regions rank high in terms of spikes. (Keep in mind, though, that these aren’t per-capita rates.)
For more, get background here on Twitter via our Lisa Halverstadt, and catch up on our exploration of what new homeless numbers are telling us.
Feds Have Grad Rates Questions
The federal government is auditing California school districts and their impressive graduation rates. NBC 7 linked the news to our recent analysis of how the San Diego Unified School District reached the 92 percent graduation rate officials touted a lot. Basically, San Diego schools shocked observers when they reached a 92 percent graduation rate despite data that indicated that would be impossible.
The 92 percent, as we found, does not include thousands of students who went to charter schools in the district, some who switched at the end of their high school term. And the district introduced new online courses to help about 20 percent of the ones who stayed in district-operated schools reach the higher standards set for the class of 2016.
• “California faces a statewide teacher shortage because so many are leaving the job and so few are entering the profession, according to a new survey released Wednesday,” the L.A. Times reports. “And most school districts surveyed said the problem is getting worse.”
School districts that serve poor neighborhoods are having the hardest time finding teachers.
• It’s December but votes are still being counted. Mark Wyland is now 823 votes behind Rick Shea in the pivotal County Board of Education race. It was an ever-so-slight narrowing of the delta between them. Only 18,000 votes remain to be processed countywide.
North County Report: Building in the Backcountry
VOSD’s weekly North County Report checks in on the housing policies of County Supervisor-Elect Kristin Gaspar, who seems likely to support more building in the backcountry. Already, new projects are in the works in rural (or rural-ish) areas.
Our roundup includes links to other North County news, including the continuing fight over veteran housing in Poway, a housing project that’s been approved after 30 years in San Marcos, and the de-car-ification of Oceanside’s main drag.
• North County cities are continuing to move toward divorcing themselves, sort of, from SDG&E.
“If a city goes with community choice aggregation, power would still go through SDG&E’s grid, but the city would buy the energy, not the utility,” KPBS explains. “That allows cities to have more control over how much of their energy comes from renewable sources and the cost for that electricity.”
Quick News Hits: This Nativity Scene Is 100% Hipster
• The U-T checks in on the Coronado Bridge lighting project, which may brighten up our bay views by 2019. We’ve reported on how a change in the Port of San Diego’s public art policy will help fund the project.
• Good news for all those California National Guard troops who accidentally got overpaid: Thanks to a pending move by Congress, it looks like they won’t need to cough up the bonuses that they got years ago unless there’s evidence that they did or should have known better than taking money they weren’t supposed to get. (KPBS)
• Somehow, the San Diego Zoo was advertising on Breitbart, the alt-right-friendly news website that deeply influenced the Trump campaign. Well, not anymore: It’s no longer buying Breitbart ads and felt the need to announce this, the AP reports, noting that “Breitbart has been condemned for featuring racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content.” (It’s not clear if the zoo was advertising through a third party and didn’t know its ads were appearing on Breitbart.)
The Kellogg cereal company, which has also backed off from Breitbart, is facing a backlash led by the news site, prompting this jibe from media critic Jack Shafer: “Breitbart News unbeatable advertising pitch: ‘Come advertise with us! If you decide to leave, we might lead a boycott against you.’”
• You may have seen the amusing “Modern Nativity” set on social media, complete with a selfie-taking Mary and Joseph, three hipster Wise Men carrying Amazon Prime gifts, an ear-budded slacker shepherd in skinny jeans and a cow chowing down on gluten-free feed. Turns out it’s the product of a pair of San Diego-based brothers who tell NBC 7 that the set is all in good man-bunned, duck-faced, latte-sipping, mustachioed fun.
Not everyone is amused. (Looking at you, local Catholic diocese!) As for all those organic cold-brewed vegan hipsters in North Park, they couldn’t be reached for artisan-crafted comment.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past 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.