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Monday is a big day for city politics, as the City Council will decide whether to schedule a special election that Mayor Kevin Faulconer badly wants.
On Friday, Faulconer made a power move by vetoing certain changes to his budget – he reinserted funding for a special election, and retaliated against the Council members who opposed the election by taking money from their districts.
While the veto and vindictiveness was surprising for a mayor doesn’t usually make waves, it was just the latest in a series of moves over the years as city politicians test the limits of their power and of the strong mayor system.
In a new column, Scott Lewis revisits similarly pivotal moves over the last few years made by Mike Aguirre, Bob Filner and Jan Goldsmith.
In his struggle to get a special election on the ballot, Lewis writes, “Faulconer showed us the search for innovations in City Hall governance is going strong.”
Now, onto the special election itself …
If the mayor had his way, the special election would be scheduled and eventually two measures would go on the ballot: Faulconer’s plan to raise hotel taxes to fund a Convention Center expansion, homelessness services and road repairs, and the SoccerCity plan to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site.
The SoccerCity plan is not actually coming before the City Council until next Monday, but its fate is largely tied to whether the Council OKs the election itself. The mayor needs five Council members’ votes on Monday to schedule the election.
The private investors behind SoccerCity say their proposal is tied to strict timelines imposed by Major League Soccer. Their redevelopment project is anchored by a stadium for a professional soccer team, and they say the league needs the deal approved this year.
Even if the mayor doesn’t get the votes he needs for the special election, there is one last hope for SoccerCity: The City Council could approve the plan outright next Monday, when it’s scheduled to be discussed. It’s highly unlikely, though, that Council members will approve SoccerCity without putting it to a public vote.
SoccerCity boosters and the lodging industry were pushing hard over the weekend for their respective interests with phone calls and sponsored social media posts encouraging residents to contact city leaders and tell them to support the mayor’s special election.
Come Monday, we’ll all find out if the last-minute campaigning for a special election actually worked.
• The investors behind SoccerCity are alleging that former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory soured a deal they had reached with San Diego State University. Investors say McGrory, who was advising SDSU on the deal to share the new stadium the investors want to build, had a conflict of interest because he was was involved in a competing idea for the Qualcomm Stadium site, the Union-Tribune reports. McGrory and SDSU shot down the allegations.
• NBC 7’s Greg Bledsoe talks with Sally Rush, interim president of SDSU, about why the school pulled out of the SoccerCity deal.
Yes, the County Is Sitting on a Lot of Cash
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is sitting on piles of cash. Some people claim that by keeping a big reserve rather than spending the money on the community, the supervisors are kind of acting like this:
Our Lisa Halverstadt decided to get to the bottom of the money the county has in the bank and find out what amount of it could actually be invested in the services and needs of people who live here.
She found that while the county does have substantial cash in the bank, current county policies rein in how much of it can be spent —and what it can be spent on.
“Deploying any significant share of the money under the Board of Supervisors’ control would require votes and policy changes,” Halverstadt writes. “But those are decisions the county could make, if it wanted to. It comes down to priorities.”
Halverstadt will tackle more on the county’s reserve and spending priorities in several stories this week, as the county weighs its latest budget and announces new efforts on homelessness.
• County Supervisors Ron Roberts and Dianne Jacob are set to announce three initiatives Monday to ease the region’s affordable housing shortage. Among the ideas that’ll require sign-off by the Board of Supervisors is a $25 million investment pool meant to spur more innovative, lower-cost affordable housing projects and leverage other cash sources. A Roberts spokesman said they’re proposing the county pull the $25 million cash from its reserve fund.
Weekend News Roundup
• U-T columnist Dan McSwain says it’s likely that San Diego’s minimum wage hike is killing San Diego restaurant jobs and hurting poor people in other unintentional ways.
• Rosarito Beach’s expatriates are wrestling with concerns about the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration and trade deals.
• The Reader has a good recap of the beer war local craft brewers have waged with East Village’s new 10 Barrel brew pub, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch.
• California Regional Water Quality Control Board meetings aren’t always raucous affairs, but on Saturday dozens of residents showed up to voice concerns about lead found in water at local schools, sewage spills from Tijuana and other issues. (NBC 7)
• Supporters of LBGT rights marched in San Diego Sunday, joining dozens of other marches happening across the country. (CBS 8)
• Oh look, another group wants to use hotel tax money to fix another big city problem. (NBC7)
• Don’t worry, my fellow sun-loving San Diegans, weather folks are saying this wretched June gloom is finally gonna clear up. (U-T)
Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.