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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Sacramento this week to announce the filing of a lawsuit against California. His presence sparked protest — a sign of the increasingly hostile posture Democrats and progressive activists are assuming towards the federal government.
The Department of Justice is arguing the state’s so-called sanctuary policies, which prevent cops and private entities from sharing information about undocumented immigrants with federal agents, violate the Constitution. One could hardly turn on the radio without hearing Sessions’ Alabaman drawl.
Much less attention was paid to a statement in support of that lawsuit by Rodney Scott, the Border Patrol San Diego Sector’s chief agent. He made several complaints about the California Values Act, not all of which were fair.
Voice’s Maya Srikrishnan highlights some of his most explosive claims in a new story and notes that San Diego County’s own sheriff has interpreted the law differently. Scott’s main gripe is that the relationship between cops and immigration agents is going to deteriorate.
However, Srikrishnan wrote, “Local law enforcement can still notify ICE of undocumented immigrants’ release dates, if they’ve committed one of 800 crimes listed in the state law, which includes pretty much all felonies and some misdemeanors.”
Control of the Homeland
So what level of control does a state like California maintain over immigration policies within its borders? That’s a complex legal question and one that’ll test the 10th Amendment, the bedrock of our federalist system of government.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws in Arizona that allowed police to make warrantless stops of anyone who looked like they might be in the country illegally. Back then, it was the Obama DOJ arguing for stronger federal control.
California is characterizing its policies as a matter of public safety, not immigration. By refusing to cooperate with federal authorities, local cops are attempting to maintain good-faith relationships with undocumented communities so that local crimes are reported and properly investigated.
It’s clear where San Diego’s Democratic state lawmakers stand in all this. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Assemblyman Todd Gloria joined a protest on Wednesday in the state capitol, marching against the Trump administration. Voice contributor Marisa Agha wrote about it in this week’s Sacramento Report and more.
I also wrote about the California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s effort to force Weedmaps to police its own platform. The Irvine-based company connects weed sellers and buyers online without regard for whether those sellers have a license. Officials across the state aren’t happy.
Weedmaps has yet to respond publicly. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the company attempted to shield its liability by arguing that it’s a media company.
In the meantime, the state is asking independent delivery services to voluntarily stop advertising on Weedmaps. A local consultant showed me one of those messages on Friday and said local operators were in a panic about how to respond.
Democrats Keep Flexing Muscle
Gonzalez Fletcher was also a leading subject of this week’s VOSD podcast. She’s proposed legislation to return the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority under the Port of San Diego’s umbrella.
It’s just one of a series of attempts by Gonzalez Fletcher and fellow Democrats to remake regional institutions. Shifting demographics are pushing the region further away from its Republican roots.
Later in the show, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts consider competing plans for the Mission Valley stadium site. KPBS reported that San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott found SDSU’s proposal difficult to analyze, citing lingering uncertainties about how the whole thing would work.
From One Vet to Another: What Gives?
The Department of Defense is not pleased with the Trump administration’s proposal to reopen California’s coast to drilling. An oil basin near Oceanside could be particularly valuable to the private sector, but it would also interfere with military operations. Earlier this week, Voice’s Ry Rivard wrote about the local opposition, which includes a couple San Diego City Council members.
In a new op-ed, Imperial Beach City Councilman Mark West adds himself to the list. He’s confused why Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke — also a former Navy man — would include the San Diego-area in his plans.
“While the administration claims this step will improve America’s energy independence,” West wrote, “it actually gives oil companies more control over the waters that we depend on for healthy coastal economies and vital military operations.”
Also concerning, West said, is the silence of Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr., a former Marine. In the 1980’s, his father was blunt about the potential danger posed by offshore drilling.
To be fair, Hunter Jr. has much to worry about these days. He’s come under fire for spending campaign dollars on things that don’t appear to be campaign-related, and the feds are investigating. The California GOP is standing by him.
• Republican talk radio host Carl DeMaio will not run against Hunter. In an email blast, he said, “While I, too, am frustrated with the lack of results and the double-standards for Washington politicians, I believe the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative campaign and our plans for subsequent reform initiatives in California are so much more important.”
Kasparian’s Members Making a Move
Labor leader Mickey Kasparian has settled a third lawsuit alleging some form of intimidation or sexual assault, according to the Union-Tribune. The terms of that deal — and the two others — are private. Kasparian has denied the claims brought forth over the last 16 months by multiple women, and he continues to lead United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135.
He was forced out of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council last spring and resigned from the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee in December.
Now, the Times of San Diego reported, some UFCW union members are mobilizing to replace him.
New Staff at City Hall
Earlier this year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer tapped Kris Michell as San Diego’s chief operating officer, a role that is typically more bureaucratic than political. Michell, however, was chief of staff to two mayors.
Her first big hire was announced Friday, the city’s assistant chief of civic initiatives. The new role is going to Bahija Humphrey.
Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt noted on Twitter that Humphrey worked with Michell for years at the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Humphrey will oversee work on homelessness and potentially the expansion of the Convention Center and Mission Valley redevelopment.
• Mike Hansen, Faulconer’s former policy chief and a land-use attorney, is also the city’s new planning director. And James Gartland is taking over the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s Lifeguard Division. He will succeed Rick Wurts, who announced his retirement last month.
In Other News
• There’s deep division over the San Diego Housing Commission’s plan to put a homeless storage facility in Sherman Heights. (Union-Tribune)
• Paul Jacobs will no longer serve as Qualcomm’s executive chairman but will remain on the board of directors. Singapore-based Broadcom is attempting to take over the local tech company, a major employer. (Union-Tribune)
• Border Patrol said a mother was part of a human smuggling operating, and video of her arrest in National City sparked outrage. It shows her being pulled away from her children. A protest took place Friday outside City Hall. CBP issued a statement Friday providing more detail on the incident. (ABC 10, KPBS)
• The Los Angeles Times considered the impact of the border wall on Jacumba in southeastern San Diego County.
• A San Diego Superior Court heard one of the first legal challenges to a California gang database. (Courthouse News Service)
• San Ysidro School Board brought back an interim superintendent to help settle the troubled district. (inewsource)
• A judge is considering whether current and former California coastal commissioners properly disclosed communications with developers and lobbyists. (Union-Tribune)
• To get ahead of unfunded liabilities, San Diego’s pension board wants to spend millions more over the next decade. (Union-Tribune)
A special education student was sexually assaulted by a classmate at Lincoln High. The victim’s mother says she wasn’t given the full story right away. The school’s response tormented a teacher at the school. (Mario Koran)
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher is proposing legislation to put the agency that oversees the airport back under the port’s umbrella. She says it was separated to pursue a new location and its independence now cripples transit planning. The agency’s chairwoman says it has gotten a lot done and there’s more planned. (Andrew Keatts)
The president of the embattled agency, Reese Jarrett, abruptly announced his retirement. The news came after a lawsuit gathered momentum and enough accusations to force the mayor to the table. Now, settlement negotiations, along with leadership changes, could mean the end of the agency, or major reform, is imminent. (Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts)
San Diego GOP politicians aren’t trampling over each other to greet POTUS. Dems in disarray in 49th congressional race. A state senator sets his sights on Board of Equalization. (Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts)
In a little-noticed statement, the San Diego leader of the Border Patrol tried to explain what was wrong with California’s new laws restricting what local law enforcement could do to cooperate with federal immigration agents. He also said long-standing task forces and joint operations have fallen apart. (Maya Srikrishnan)
To see the whole list, go here.