The outside investigation into SANDAG’s forecasting scandal came out late Monday night, and it included a shocking revelation.
SANDAG officials instructed staffers to delete documents to make sure they wouldn’t come up in a public records request, in the days just after Voice of San Diego broke the news that Measure A would likely raise far less than SANDAG was telling voters.
The directive was delivered the same day Voice of San Diego requested a trove of emails related to the forecasting scandal.
Though it was framed as a reiteration of the agency’s existing policy for retaining and deleting certain records, the investigators found, the reminder “in light of recent press inquiries and anticipated requests for documents, suggested to some employees that they should delete more than just draft documents. As a result, some employees may have deleted non-draft documents related to the forecasting error,” the report by law firm Hueston Hennigan says.
Investigators found that staff saved all materials related to their research into the crisis in a special folder on the server that was shielded from public records requests.
“When Kroninger created Hana Tools on November 1, 2016, he admittedly did so as a way to avoid public records requests,” the investigation reads, referring to the staffer who created the folder.
Some staffers told investigators that Executive Director Gary Gallegos instructed them to no longer discuss the issue in writing.
The investigation also confirms much of what VOSD has reported: that many staffers knew there were fatal flaws in the agency’s internal forecasts and tried to alert agency leadership long before the 2016 election, and long before the agency was forced in December to admit the forecast was wrong.
The investigation did not, however, address multiple findings Voice of San Diego has made in recent months. It was narrowly focused on what the agency knew about Measure A’s forecast before the election.
– Andrew Keatts
• Andy Kopp, a local resident and community activist, says in an op-ed that the drip of revelations about how the San Diego Association of Governments repeatedly misled voters requires new leadership at the agency.
So far, the association’s leaders have been “dead silent” or tried to “hunker down” in an effort to dodge such accountability, even as they fight off a bill in the state Legislature that would reform how they do business. “Does that sound to anyone like a group of leaders getting ready to enact meaningful reforms on themselves?” Kopp writes.
Baja Killing Marks Eighth Journalist Murdered in Mexico
Yet another journalist has been killed in Mexico, this time relatively close by: “Luciano Rivera Salgado, who covered crime for a Baja California television channel and published a news website called El Dictamen, is at least the eighth journalist to be killed this year in a country that ranks among the most dangerous for members of the media,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
It’s unclear whether Salgado was killed as a direct result of his reporting.
Salgado is at least the eighth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year. Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists declared that Mexico was more deadly for journalists in 2017 than even Syria.
Everard Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, told VOSD’s Mario Koran recently that possibly the most disturbing aspect of the rash of killings is that crimes against journalists go virtually unpunished.
• New pedestrian lanes into Tijuana are open at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. (KPBS)
In Other News
• A new study by the city and county of San Diego concludes that the biggest source of bacterial pollution in the county’s waterways is sewage, especially human feces, coming from homeless encampments and leaky sewer pipes. San Diego Coastkeeper questioned the study’s motives and methods. (Union Tribune)
• Last week, for our I Made It in San Diego podcast, we interviewed James Slatic, a legal marijauana pioneer, who’s now facing felony charges along with his attorney. The case against the attorney has generated a lot of worry among attorneys. Prosecutors now have settled on a way to search her computer. (NBC San Diego)
• The San Diego County Water Authority has hired a high-powered attorney for $1,550 an hour to try to get a major loss in a $7 billion case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California heard by the state Supreme Court. The attorney, Neal Katyal, is a former acting solicitor general for the Obama administration.
• San Diego is getting ready to repeal a city law that restricts where paroled sex offenders can live, but the law hasn’t been enforced for nearly a decade anyway. The Supreme Court said last year that such blanket restrictions are unconstitutional. (Union-Tribune)
• Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan has already raised more than $200,000 for next year’s election. (Union-Tribune)