Councilwoman Myrtle Cole is San Diego’s next Council president.
Cole won in a 6-3 vote Monday following a contest between her and Councilman David Alvarez that became a proxy war for two groups on the left. Cole had the backing of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council; Alvarez had support from the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council.
Cole didn’t seem to have any prepared statement, but said in brief remarks that she plans to work with every Council member to “move San Diego forward.” Cole voted for herself and won with the support of all four Council Republicans, and new Councilwoman Barbara Bry, a Democrat. She becomes the first black woman to serve as president of the City Council.
It was Bry’s decision to back Cole that sealed the deal after Councilman Mark Kersey, who was leading the meeting, nominated Cole.
Alvarez, joined by new Democratic Council members Georgette Gomez and Chris Ward, voted against Cole. Before the vote, Alvarez slammed what he said is the Council’s tendency to buy into “groupthink or PR stunts to pretend things are actually happening in the city.” In a statement after the vote, Alvarez said he was disappointed by the outcome but still committed to getting things done.
In a quick interview with KPBS’s Andrew Bowen, Cole said she was “absolutely” ready to stand up to the mayor when necessary.
Things were a little more kumbaya earlier in the day as the city swore in city officials Monday, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Attorney Mara Elliott and the three new City Council members.
At the ceremony, Faulconer gave a campaign speech for gov … oops, I mean a speech to kick off his new term as mayor. Faulconer said his big priorities moving forward will include implementing the Climate Action Plan, and addressing homelessness and affordable housing.
And don’t be surprised if you see this Faulconer line in his ads for gov … sorry, I mean in press releases about his regular ol’ job as mayor: “Our nation needs a little San Diego style bipartisanship now more than ever.”
Other Cities Not So Keen on Changing Homeless Funding Formula
Back in 2013, our former reporter Kelly Bennett revealed something big: San Diego had the third-highest homeless population in the country but only ranked 18th in federal funding.
Since then, the gap has gotten worse: San Diego’s homeless population is now the fourth-largest in the country and yet we’re 22nd in terms of funding.
For a while, local leaders said they wanted things to change but nothing really happened. Now, though, there’s real progress being made to overhaul the formula – and all the possibilities on the table would mean more funding for San Diego.
But in order for San Diego to get its fair share, some of the cities that benefit from the current arrangement would have to receive less money. And unsurprisingly, they’re not OK with that.
Reporting from Washington D.C., freelance contributor Joe Cantlupe details the arguments being made against changing the funding formula by Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
The head of one Chicago agency says she understands Rep. Scott Peters’ push to get more funding for San Diego, but she objects to all the proposed changes: “This congressman should get his money, but it should not be at the expense of other localities’ programs.”
City Council Throws Chargers Hail Mary
The AP is reporting that four members of the San Diego City Council are sending a letter to the Chargers (but first to the media, apparently) offering the team a lease at the Qualcomm Stadium site for $1 a year for 99 years. The idea would be to let the Chargers do whatever the team wanted to the land in order to finance a stadium. It is intended to open a new dialogue with the team as it becomes more and more clear the Chargers are looking to move.
The Chargers once did consider a plan like this about a decade ago. But amid controversy at City Hall and indications the housing market may not keep booming (it didn’t), the team could not secure a development partner to build the thousands of condos it envisioned for the site.
The stadium envisioned in 2004 was also about a third of the cost of what is envisioned now.
Pension Costs Are Strangling Schools Budget
There are many reasons San Diego Unified is facing a budget crisis: the fact that it’s been depleting its reserves, teacher raises and more.
One of the big hits to the budget is one that’s being felt at agencies across the state: soaring pension costs.
The district spent $75.7 million on pension contributions just two years ago; now the price tag is nearly $124 million.
Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed had planned to put a pension reform measure on the statewide ballot this year, but pulled it and said back in January that they’re now aiming for 2018.
Schools Budget in One Chart
Ashly McGlone compiled the revenues and expenses of San Diego Unified over the last 10 years into one chart to help you visualize recent history.
The chart shows a drop after the recession but a significant increase in both money coming in and going out over the last four years.
• NBC 7 San Diego followed up our reporting on the topic here.
Quick News Hits
• UC San Diego will open an outpost downtown. (Union-Tribune)
• Community activists are worried an expansion of the port will mean even more pollution flowing into nearby Barrio Logan. (KPBS)
• Rep. Darrell Issa, Doug Applegate and their boosters spent almost $3.7 million on TV ads. (inewsource)
• The new issue of The Atlantic features San Diego nonprofit George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Care Centers and its unique approach to caring for Alzheimer’s patients by creating faux old-timey towns to help trigger memories.