The governor and other state leaders have sure tried to make it sound like California is a sanctuary state for unauthorized immigrants. The governor sure makes it sound that way. And both San Diego city and the county appear on lists of sanctuary cities.

The reality, argues our Scott Lewis, is that the very idea of a sanctuary in this context is hollow.

“‘Sanctuary’ has a meaning — a place of refuge and safety — and it does not apply to immigrants without the proper papers in these cities,” he writes in a new VOSD commentary. “It’s rather evil, in fact, to call a city a sanctuary and communicate any kind of reassurance to those who are not permitted to be here.”

During the most recent fiscal year, as Lewis notes, the San Diego immigration & customs office removed almost 24,000 people from the United States, including about 13,000 who were not convicted or accused of local crimes.

Lewis got a quote from Immigration and Customs Enforcement about how pleased its leaders are with San Diego law enforcement officials for all the cooperation. The question now, however, is how much more will local officers be asked to do?

Over the weekend, protesters demanded that San Diego declare itself to be a sanctuary city. Mayor Kevin Faulconer said “our long-standing policy of cooperating with federal authorities if someone has committed a crime has helped keep San Diego one of the safest big cities in the nation,” Times of S.D. reported.

• The online news outlet Slate is out with a similar perspective on sanctuary cities and the president’s fight against them: “Every day, police and prosecutors in Democratic Party-controlled cities fuel mass incarceration by arresting and charging people for low-level nonviolent offenses. An arrest for jumping a turnstile or a minor drug charge could result in a person’s separation from his or her family forever.”

Details on Planned School Layoffs

San Diego Unified schools may lay off 833 and cut short the work year, KPBS reports, while also slashing training for teachers. The school board will discuss the plans tonight.

“Much of the budget shortfall is due to declining enrollment, which means less state funding, and rising pension costs,” KPBS says.

In an interview with NBC 7 San Diego, Superintendent Cindy Marten did not offer much in the way of clarity about what would happen nor did she in a letter sent to parents across the district.

If you want to really prepare for the meeting tonight, though, here are the actual resolutions and presentations staff will be offering the board. They propose no changes to the instructional year or classroom sizes.

Readers Guide to the SANDAG Mess

To the uninitiated, SANDAG sounds like a small Southern town or an intestinal disorder. To San Diego’s news watchers and political insiders, however, the clunk word has meant something else lately: scandal.

The San Diego Association of Governments, a coalition of local cities and the county, handles planning for the region and other roles. It’s usually somewhat obscure; the mayor of San Diego is a member of its board but rarely bothers to show up at meetings. We’ve uncovered one heck of a mess involving how it failed to let the public know about botched projections regarding revenue from a transportation ballot measure.

If you feel a bit mystified by it all, good news! Managing Editor Sara Libby created a handy reader’s guide. Among other things, she explains who the players are, recaps what’s happened so far, and digs into why this all matters. And we have tips about what you can do.

Meet the Bustling Vision of SoccerCity

Congested Mission Valley may seem like the last place in town that needs an extra 4,800 homes, but they’re at the core of a newly released “SoccerCity” plan that aims to overhaul the football stadium site.

Boosters pushing the plan released the whole vision. The $1 billion project would also include “more than 3 million square feet of offices and retail, 55 acres of parks and nearly as many parking spaces as currently exist at the 166-acre site,” the U-T reports.

Hold on, though.

San Diego State University, which would be expected to share the stadium for its football games, issued an uncharacteristically terse statement about the new detailed plan with two main complaints: the stadium would be too small and something about the university not really wanting to own it.

“First, given the proposed density of development in the stadium area, there is no prospect for future expansion to 40,000 seats. Second, while the proposed gift of stadium ownership may convey tax advantages to FS Investors, it conveys no revenue or rights of ownership normally associated with a gift,” the SDSU statement read.

We’re not sure what the university means by that last part. And the investors group didn’t really offer a rebuttal.

However, we now have the full text of the initiative. We’re going to read it, because that’s what we do. Let us know if you see anything. The investors want to gather signatures and have the City Council approve it outright in the summer.

S.D.’s Catholic Bishop: Start Disrupting!

Robert McElroy, San Diego’s new Catholic bishop, urged hundreds of progressive activists last week in Modesto to focus on “disruption.”

“President Trump was the candidate of disruption. He was the disrupter, he said,” reports the National Catholic Reporter. “Well now, we must all become disrupters.”

McElroy said: “We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies, rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men and women and children as sources of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.”

Guess What Russia Might Be Up to Now

You may have heard about the wackadoo idea that California will secede from the union to protest the president. There’s even an effort to put the issue on the state ballot in 2018.

The Washington Post checks in with the 30-year-old man who’s behind the secession effort. But he’s not in California. In fact, he’s lives in Russia.

A “rival secessionist movement” — I’ll hold while you adjust to this new information — has suggested the guy is too Russian- friendly “Hands off California, Putin,” it tweeted.

“The fact that I’m an English teacher in Yekaterinburg doesn’t mean there’s some Russian government conspiracy or support for our campaign,” says the secession movement leader, Louis J. Marinelli, a sometime-San Diegan who’s married to a Russian woman.

Fun fact: He voted for Trump, strategically. And another fun fact: He ran against Lorena Gonzalez for an Assembly seat last year. (He lost.)

Quick News Hits: Dog Gone? Not Quite

“The choice of the Dalai Lama as this year’s commencement speaker at the University of California, San Diego, has outraged some of UC San Diego’s Chinese students…,” Inside Higher Ed reports. “They have condemned the choice of commencement speaker as culturally disrespectful and describe the Dalai Lama as a separatist leader intent on dividing their home country.”

The L.A. Times visits El Cajon for its exploration of the big spike in refugees to San Diego County from Syria over the past few months. The East County city is already a hotspot for Iraqi Chaldeans, a fact that’s created some controversy.

“Resettlement agencies see El Cajon, with its existing network of resources and community services in Arabic, as a prime location for refugees who don’t have family in the United States…,” the paper reports. “Here, grocery store signs are in English and Arabic. Posters advertise realty and investment services in both languages, alongside signs for concerts headlined by Arab pop stars.”

As the National Endowment for the Humanities faces elimination at the hands of the Trump administration, inewsource finds that it’s handed $5 million in grants to 21 local organizations over the past 10 years. Local universities have gotten big chunks of that figure.

• The Padres have an idea. (Listen for the chorus of “oh, this is gonna be good!”) According to NBC 7, “the Padres are turning Christian Bethancourt in to a completely different kind of utility player,” one who’s a catcher, an outfielder and a relief pitcher.

Sounds like the team wants him to to take a stab at nearly every position. Who knew the team was try-curious?

• The Charlotte Observer says a San Diego woman was scheduled to fly to North Carolina to be reunited with Bemis, an Italian greyhound who went missing seven years ago in Virginia. A microchip revealed his identity and led to his former owner, who’d since moved here.

“I cannot control my emotions right now as I anticipate this incredible day that is to come,” said the woman, Kelly Accettola.

Hear that? It’s San Diego’s cat population collectively sighing over this utter ridiculousness.

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.