Last year, two San Diego Sheriff’s deputies stopped a car in Mission Bay for what they claim was a cracked windshield. Inside were two undocumented immigrants the deputies suspected of drug smuggling. But after a search of the car turned up nothing, Border Patrol agents suddenly appeared and took the couple into custody, eventually handing them over to immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s deputies had called them, despite policies barring sheriff’s deputies from enforcing immigration laws.
The Sheriff’s Department “maintains they did not violate department policy because Border Patrol independently made the decision to dispatch agents to the scene,” Maya Srikrishnan and Mario Koran report. Deputies claimed to have contacted Border Patrol only to ask for information about the couple’s border crossings. When we asked the department to provide the audio from the incident, they denied our request.
Regardless, the case highlights just how difficult it will be for California to stop local police agencies from getting entangled with enforcing immigration laws, which the state pledged to do in the recently signed California Values Act law.
State Money Narrows School Budget Deficit
Money injected into the San Diego Unified School District by the state will bring the district’s budget deficit down from $47 million to $34 million, Ashly McGlone reports. That’s good news for school libraries and music and arts programs which had previously been on the chopping block but will now be spared.
But the district will continue to analyze other tough options for closing the remaining budget gap, which include proposals to cut back further on services like mental health, IT support and custodian work.
• This year’s cuts pale in comparison to last year’s, when the district had to scrounge up $124 million, which ended up hitting staffing levels hard. Despite those big cuts, the district is only planning to spend about $9 million less this year than last year, due to rising expenses. McGlone joined NBC 7’s Monica Dean to unpack last year’s budget problems and this year’s proposed solutions in our most recent San Diego Explained.
The Learning Curve: Getting Schools To Open Up
We want to be able to tell deep, important stories about San Diego’s school system. We really, really do. But reporters who are focused on education all share the same daunting challenges: schools are determined to protect the privacy of children and staff. School administrators fear they will be punished for talking to reporters. “Teachers, perhaps wary of how they might be portrayed by the press, tend to close their doors to education reporters,” Mario Koran writes.
While school environments aren’t the friendliest to reporters, parents and the public have a right to the public information schools guard. Koran notes one way to cut through obstacles can be to build a relationship with the school’s principal. “For the most part principals have a great deal of autonomy over who comes in [a school’s] doors,” Koran writes.
Commentary: Council Should Lead School District Election Reforms
A recent County Grand Jury report presented the case for reforming the way we elect people to the San Diego Unified School Board, and consultant Andrew Simmerman thinks Democrats in the City Council should get behind proposals to put those reforms on the 2018 ballot. He specifically points to efforts to elect board members by district instead of requiring them to be elected at large, as well as a proposal to institute term limits. “It’s disconcerting that our council members appear to want nothing to do with this responsibility,” Simmerman writes. “Ensuring that our region has quality schools for all students needs to be atop the priority list for our mayor, council members, and other elected representatives.”
Animal Shelter’s Future Uncertain
Officials from the City of San Diego are considering whether they should contract with San Diego Humane Society to operate animal shelters after the city’s current contract with the county expires on June 30th. It’s unclear what the costs to the city would be, but Councilman Cate said he doubts a proposal that would cost an additional $2 million would get approved, the Union-Tribune reports.
Meanwhile, the County of San Diego is working on plans to stop offering animal shelter services altogether and to start a managed competition process to find a service provider for unincorporated areas of the county.
“Who’s ready for more bikes?!?!”
San Diego is continuing to explore “dockless” bike sharing programs that allow people to unlock a bike rental with their cell phone and park it in a variety of undesignated places. There was some question about whether San Diego’s existing bike share partner, DecoBike, had locked the city into a contract that would exclude other companies from operating in the city, but the city attorney cleared that up on Wednesday with a memo, KPBS reports.
Limebike and Spin are both bike share companies that are already piloting their dockless products in specific communities here.
• Payouts to people who were injured by damaged sidewalks in San Diego totaled $5.3 million last year. (San Diego Reader)
• District Attorney Summer Stephan has sent letters in 254 prior cases to alert lawyers that DNA evidence used to convict defendants may make their case eligible for re-examination. (Union-Tribune)
• If you’re an average young San Diegan without a college degree saving money for a down payment on a condo, you will reach your savings goals… in about 25 years. (Union-Tribune)
• A 60 year-old gorilla thought to be the second oldest in the world has died at San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park. (NBC 7)
• Poway will destroy 87 boxes of public records that are more than two years old. (San Diego Reader)
• Oceanside’s newly appointed mayor is former city manager Peter Weiss. (10 News)
• Mexico: maybe we should legalize cannabis in the Mexican states most frequented by tourists. (El Universal)
• The “Super Bowl of feline competition” will be in Del Mar this weekend. Cats with long hair, cats with no hair, agile cats, smart cats and more will be on display. Are you ready for some hairball? (Union-Tribune)