Months of turmoil within San Diego’s labor movement resulted in the national AFL-CIO and its president, Richard Trumka, taking over the San Diego Imperial-Counties Labor Council and ousting its president and secretary-treasurer.
Mickey Kasparian, who until Monday was the longtime president of the group and is still the leader of the largest labor union in San Diego, announced that not only was he leaving but he would, along with several other unions, form a new labor coalition: The San Diego Working Families Council. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135 is the county’s largest labor group. It will join the new organization, along with the union that represents workers at the county of San Diego.
Jerry Butkiewicz, the former secretary-treasurer of the Labor Council, will come in as a caretaker trustee of the organization he led for many years until a permanent leader is elected and the national labor federation removes the receivership under which it has placed the group.
Kasparian and Dale Bankhead, who was also pushed out as the Labor Council’s secretary-treasurer, have a press conference planned for Tuesday morning.
— Scott Lewis
Mayor’s Homelessness Point Person Exits
Mayor Kevin Faulconer got kudos from homeless advocates and business leaders last year when he hired former White House communications strategist Stacie Spector to coordinate city efforts to reduce homelessness.
Now Spector, the mayor’s senior adviser for housing solutions, is out after seven months on the job. It’s not clear what led to her abrupt departure.
I broke the news and laid out the questions that follow Spector’s exit.
Spector had proposed the city build intake centers where homeless folks could be connected with services. She also wanted to quickly add hundreds of shelter beds to address a major uptick in street homelessness across the city. Both proposals had raised concerns with some outspoken activists, who urged Spector to put more energy behind plans to provide permanent housing solutions.
I wasn’t getting answers about the status of Spector’s homelessness initiatives Monday evening. A spokesman would only say homelessness remains the mayor’s top social service priority.
The Jacobs Center’s Unrealized Development Vision
More than a decade ago, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation began buying dozens of acres of land in southeastern San Diego and promised residents it’d transform vacant lots into community assets.
It’s faced numerous hurdles ever since. Now the Jacobs Center is resolving to partner with developers in hopes of bringing this long-held mission to life.
In a new story, I chronicle the stops, starts and frustrations that led to the pivot as well as the concerns of many residents who’ve grown disillusioned along the way.
The Jacobs Center is a nonprofit that made pledges to reshape a community that’s long struggled against a lack of city investment. Jacobs has dealt more recently with high-level departures amid a tightening budget. Its promise that the community would eventually take over the mission and functions of the nonprofit is still up in the air.
From ‘Based on Nothing’ to ‘I Never Heard That’
On Monday Andrew Keatts published a story highlighting 2014 emails from city staffers in which they said the Climate Action Plan’s goals for bike commuting were arbitrary and unrealistic. One staffer, Linda Marabian, wrote in an email that the goals are “not based on anything” and couldn’t be met.
After we published the story, KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen tweeted a link to an interview he did last week with Marabian for a story about advocates’ frustrations about the city’s bike program in which he asked if it was true that city staff didn’t think the goals could be reached.
“I work with city staff every day and I never hear that,” she said.
Policies and Prevention at Issue in Jail Suicide Report
Reporter Kelly Davis, who has long chronicled deaths and suicides that happen in San Diego County jails, was on KPBS Monday to discuss a grand jury report released last week condemning the Sheriff’s Department’s lack of policies and prevention methods to address jail suicides.
Davis said this marks first time the grand jury, which is tasked with inspecting county facilities, has used “an entire report to talk about this issue.”
The current system for identifying at-risk inmates focuses almost exclusively on what they say during their intake interviews.
As Davis recently reported for Voice of San Diego, at least two men who went on to commit suicide in San Diego County jails told jail officials during intake that they were not suicidal, though there were other warning signs that they should have been placed on suicide watch anyway.
Arts Leaders Rally Against Proposed City Budget Cuts
Arts and culture groups rallied outside City Hall on Monday, urging city leaders not to go through with millions in proposed cuts to the Commission on Arts and Culture.
The commission funds several arts groups and institutions around town.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed budget would cut the commission’s funding by $4.7 million, KPBS reports.
Just a few months ago, the commission was focusing on expanding the number and diversity of arts groups that receive funding.
In Other News
• An ongoing fight between San Diego labor groups is now a formal split. San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Secretary‐Treasurer Dale Kelly Bankhead and president
Mickey Kasparian, who’s been under fire in recent months, announced they’ll team with leaders of other major Labor Council-affiliated unions to create a new organization and withdraw from the Labor Council. They’re set to detail what’s happening at a press conference Tuesday morning.
• In 2009, SDSU hiked student health services fees. Students today say it hasn’t resulted in better care – and some refuse to get care on campus at all after bad experiences. (Union-Tribune)
• San Diego Police said Monday that the student shot by officers at Torrey Pines High School over the weekend had a suicide note in his jacket pocket. (10News)
• San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods has agreed to pay $25 million for conspiring with competitors to fix prices. (NBC San Diego)
• District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has been ordered to return more than $100,000 seized from a medical marijuana shop owner after a police raid. (Reason)
• San Diego televangelist Morris Cerullo has redesigned his planned 18-acre resort in Mission Valley after a tepid response to the first designs. (Union-Tribune)