Democrats held on to their 5-4 majority on City Council this fall, but now they’re trying to figure out who should lead it.

The Council will vote next week on its president, a position that can dictate the body’s direction and agenda. The two likeliest contenders, Councilman David Alvarez and Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, are both Democrats but have far different visions for the job. Andrew Keatts writes about the behind-the-scenes wrangling and what it means for the direction of the city.

Alvarez, a former mayoral candidate, promises to push progressive issues like housing and homelessness, and to oppose Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s priorities when necessary. Cole would rather use the promise of Democratic votes to cooperate with the mayor’s office.

Progressive interests are divided: The San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents construction unions throughout the county, is backing Alvarez. Mickey Kasparian, president of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, appears to support Cole.

Faulconer’s office is pushing the Council’s four Republicans to join Cole in voting for herself to make her the next Council president. It’s similar to what Faulconer did two years ago to lift outgoing Council President Sherri Lightner past then-Council President Todd Gloria, who ahead of that vote had pursued a distinct progressive agenda while leading the Council.

Beyond the direction of the city, there could be other political considerations in the mix: Alvarez as president could be a thorn in Faulconer’s side just as the mayor seems to be a prime contender for governor in 2018.

Sanctuaries From a Deportation Force

In this week’s Border Report, Brooke Binkowski looks at institutions that are preparing to shield unauthorized immigrants from deportation, should the incoming Trump administration pursue such policies.

Students and faculty at both University of San Diego and UCSD are pushing their respective administrations to become sanctuary campuses; the Cal State University system, which includes SDSU, stopped short of using the word sanctuary but has said it won’t cooperate with federal policies that target immigrant students. Churches, too, are gearing up to offer sanctuary to undocumented parishioners.

• At the state level, lawmakers are also preparing to put up a fight to protect immigrants who might be deported: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said Monday that “if you want to get to them, you have to go through us.”

More on FieldTurf: ‘The 100-Yard Deception’

NJ Advance Media has kicked off its own multi-part investigation of artificial turf maker FieldTurf. Our Ashly McGlone just wrapped her own series investigating the company and its impact on San Diego County schools.

In New Jersey, NJ Advance finds that FieldTurf knew its fields were deteriorating faster than expected, misled customers, tried to cover up the problems, kept quiet and stonewalled.

In Other News

• After being “delayed by coordination issues,” San Diego officials are ready to launch a program to get low-level criminals with drug problems off the streets, according to the Union-Tribune. We included the program in a larger story on how authorities can’t force the homeless of the streets.

• The amount of energy provided by rooftop solar is growing exponentially, though mostly in San Diego’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Union-Tribune reports. For more on the complications and implications of rooftop solar’s arrival, check out our coverage.

• Six months after the city launched a “Get It Done” mobile app for people to report issues, the city has received over 38,000 reports. About half of the cases are closed; the other half remain unresolved or fall under the purview of another agency. (KPBS)

• The Union-Tribune’s David Garrick is profiling new members of City Council. He’s recently taken a look at Barbara Bry and Chris Ward.

• Former state Sen. Marty Block has found new employment: He’ll be on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

If there isn’t enough to worry about already, inewsource highlights one of the new mapping tools that could help San Diegans visualize and perhaps even prepare for sea-level rise. Some communities, like Imperial Beach, are taking dire projections and trying to figure out what to do with them.

In a little news about ourselves, Voice of San Diego is helping a group of other enterprising news outlets figure out how to find paying members so they can stay alive to keep fighting the good fight.

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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