In less than a year, Democrats have managed to change the political landscape in San Diego by pushing through key legislation and backing ballot measures that change the fundamentals of politics in the region. Andrew Keatts reports on how two bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this week pave the way for progressive interests to flex greater influence, one in how county officials are elected and the other on how SANDAG is organized.

A bill signed Thursday written by Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber “could eventually lead to all countywide races being decided in November general elections, not during June primaries,” Keatts writes. If that was to happen, it would go a long way in wiping out natural advantages Republicans have enjoyed when they are able to turn out primary voters in large enough numbers to negate a November election, when most people show up at the polls.

That law mirrors laws successfully passed last year in the city of San Diego, requiring citywide elections and ballot initiative votes to be decided in November.

And then there is AB 805, the bill signed this week that changes how SANDAG operates. “The change marks a significant shift in power from smaller and rural cities that are likelier to be conservative, to larger and more urban cities that are likelier to be liberal,” Keatts writes.

Nonpublic Schools Do What Public Schools Can’t

When students with special needs can’t be successful at traditional public schools, that’s often where you’ll find nonpublic schools stepping in. “A nonpublic school serves students with special needs and operates independently of school districts, but still receives public funds,” Maya Srikrishnan reports in this week’s Learning Curve. San Diego is home to roughly 25 such schools.

Nonpublic schools receive public funds if they are properly certified, but they may also receive private funds. Often, students with the most severe emotional or behavioral issues will land at nonpublic schools as a result of an agreement made with a school the student is already attending. That means nonpublic school teachers face extra challenges on top of typical education concerns. One such school’s principal said the school “still doesn’t receive enough funds to pay teachers and staff as much as traditional public schools do.”

The number of students attending nonpublic schools has been on the rise since 2015, Srikrishnan writes, but the cause for that rise is unknown.

School Choice 2017: San Diego Explained

If you are thinking about sending your child to a school inside San Diego Unified other than the one closest to your home, right now is your time. Parents have until Nov. 13 to take advantage of the district’s school choice program, which allows parents to apply for their top three preferred schools managed by the district.

It’s hard to know how to make decisions about schools, so in our most recent San Diego Explained, Scott Lewis and NBC 7’s Monica Dean team up to look at our shiny new school choice tool that helps parents view critical data about district schools on an easy map.

Opinion: Shine More Light on Police Chief Hiring Process

The city of San Diego recently wrapped up a series of six community forums across San Diego to gather feedback on how San Diego’s next police chief should be selected. Current Chief Shelly Zimmerman is retiring in March, and San Diego is launching a nationwide search for her replacement.

But once the search is done, a hiring panel will help vet the candidates and make a final selection. Nobody knows who will be on that hiring panel, as the mayor has said he intends to keep the panel’s members a secret. In a commentary, Democratic Council members David Alvarez,Chris Ward, Barbara Bry and Georgette Gomez urge the mayor to increase transparency and participation in the hiring process to ensure the next chief is supported by a diverse group of community leaders.

“In order to ensure the process for selecting our next police chief is as open and transparent as possible, the search panel must include representatives from the Gang Commission, Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations, Community Review Board on Police Practices, and Human Relations Commission,” the Council members write.

California Law-Law-Palooza

This week Gov. Jerry Brown has been signing and vetoing the various bills that ran the gauntlet to make it to his desk. On Thursday, Brown signed up for AB 480 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, which will make California the first state in the U.S. to subsidize diapers for low-income mothers. Another bill by Gonzalez Fletcher requires law enforcement agencies to preserve untested rape kits. (10 News, L.A. Times)

Brown also signed AB 90 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, which reforms the state’s notoriously troubled gang database. See our breakdown of what the bill does here.

Group Says County Should Cough Up

A coalition of local leaders is criticizing the county’s response to the hepatitis A outbreak and urging county supervisors to spend more to address the crisis. Led by Nathan Fletcher, who is a candidate for county supervisor in 2018, the group argues the county was willing to spend $150 million for a new stadium, and should be willing to spend the same to save the lives of San Diegans.

• The city of San Diego has continually looked to the county for help controlling the outbreak.

• Scott Lewis noticed County Supervisor Ron Roberts’ response to the coalition and highlighted some extraordinary things about the supervisor’s response.

• The county noted an influx of human waste last year in the San Diego River, just before the hepatitis A outbreak flared up. (Union-Tribune)

Lightning Round

• SANDAG reports that nearly three out of four people booked into jail in 2016 had some kind of illicit substance in their blood. (Times of San Diego)

• While wildfires are burning in Northern California, San Diego is offering to host NFL games at our stadium. (Union-Tribune)

• The Hollywood Reporter describes an accusation of sexual harassment by a producer against an Amazon executive that took place at the U.S. Grant Hotel during San Diego Comic-Con in 2015.

• As the Downtown Partnership embarks on a search for a new leader, the question arises whether it will stick with the old guard or look to inject new blood. (Union-Tribune)

• Hey! Stop throwing rocks at the trolley! (Times of San Diego)

• San Diego chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins will compete on the next season of “Top Chef.” (Eater)

• Hundreds of San Diegans appeared on short notice to stand in the formation of a giant peace symbol. (SDGLN)

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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