Parents and teachers listen to San Diego Unified board trustee Mike McQuary at a town hall meeting organized by the teacher’s union at Ocean Beach Elementary School. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle
Parents and teachers listen to San Diego Unified board trustee Mike McQuary at a town hall meeting organized by the teacher’s union at Ocean Beach Elementary School. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

San Diego Unified School District’s teachers’ union organized a series of town halls with school board members. They had advertised on fliers for the event that they were potentially headed toward a strike. Then, this week, the union instead struck a deal with the district for better salary and benefits.

Based on numbers provided by the union, the tentative agreement could cost more than $18 million over the next two years. It comes, as Voice’s Mario Koran reported, weeks after the school board agreed to make $8 million worth of cuts and eliminate more than 200 jobs to stay within next year’s budget.

Koran went to one of the town halls. The union still plans to hold more so teachers can continue to press board members for higher salaries and a plan to deal with the steady loss of students over the past decade, which lowers funding.

In the meantime, the union is distributing information to its members that is highly critical of the district’s spending priorities, describing what they see as bureaucratic redundancies.

Cate Ready to Move Beyond SoccerCity Leak

On this week’s Voice of San Diego Podcast, San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate defended his decision to share a confidential city attorney memo about SoccerCity, one of two proposals to redevelop the Mission Valley stadium site. He paid his fine to an ethics commission and now considers the issue resolved.

“I felt that I was acting within the law to gather information on a very important decision that was coming to the council,” he said. But at the same time, he acknowledged that he would have done things differently in retrospect.

Cate also shared his exasperation over the City Council’s inability to regulate the home-sharing industry, and talked about the housing crunch, dockless bikes and more

Also on the show, Voice’s Ry Rivard talked about the proposal to put the city in charge of buying the energy and legally mandated targets for renewable energy use, as set forth in its Climate Action Plan. There are lessons to be learned from two other California cities.

 On the newest episode of Good Schools for All, hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn interview two young adults about their struggle to find the path to college or the workforce. Both were brought to the country illegally as children, which complicated their lives after high school.

It was a preview of next week’s Opportunity Summit hosted by the San Diego Workforce Partnership April 12.

The Partnership says 41,000 young people are neither in school nor working. They’ve called them “opportunity youth.” Lewis and Kohn go through that definition and some programs that are working.

Bill Would Offer Fewer Justifications for Police Shootings

Shirley Weber has long used her platform to demand police accountability. Last year, the San Diego Assemblywoman authored legislation that would collect data on racial profiling.

Now she wants to narrow the circumstances in which cops can fire on residents in the streets. Deadly force would be justified only if the officer was in imminent danger of bodily harm or death, and if there was no reasonable alternative, including non-lethal de-escalation tactics.

“Our officers do know how to de-escalate and they do know how to use other strategies,” Weber told Voice’s Sara Libby. “They just don’t use them in black communities.”

The text of Weber’s legislation wasn’t available. The former head of San Diego’s police union, Brian Marvel, dismissed the bill on Facebook as “political correctness run amok!” He also complained that it put no value on an officer’s “safety or survival.” Read more in the Sacramento Report.

Also in this week’s report: The state’s Latino Caucus, which is led by two San Diego lawmakers, released a list of its legislative priorities that include the expansion of education and healthcare and housing. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra signaled that he’s preparing to do more to clean up the state’s illegal marijuana market, which would be a big win for those who hold the right permits.

Sanctuary State Backlash

Parts of Republican California are in rebellion. Orange County and six cities, including Escondido, have sided with the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the state’s so-called sanctuary laws and San Diego County is going to consider following suit.

“If the county joins the movement, it would be the first jurisdiction with a Democratic plurality, slight as it may be, to do so,” wrote Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens. “In contrast to the county’s political demographics, all five board members are Republican.”

In Anaheim last year, a California Republican Party chair official made the case to party donors and activists that the Democrat-led legislature was increasingly unlikeable among voters and particularly vulnerable on certain issues in 2018, including taxes and immigration.

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California released a survey in February showing that 65 percent of voters favor the state and local governments “making their own policies and taking actions, separate from the federal government, to protect the legal rights of undocumented immigrants in California.”

The partisan divide on that question isn’t surprising, but it is significant. Nearly 75 percent of Republicans oppose local sanctuary laws. More than 80 percent of Democrats think the laws are necessary to build trust between cops and local immigrant communities.

At least one candidate appears to be betting on conservative resentment to help get through the June primary. Diane Harkey, a Board of Equalization member who’s competing in the 49th Congressional District race, issued a statement saying the state’s sanctuary status “puts our citizens at risk of being victimized. State and federal law enforcement should work together to protect the public.”

 San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore’s position on this topic has shifted. Just last week, he told the Union Tribune editorial board that he would advice the Board of Supervisors to stay out of the federal government’s suit. His spokeswoman told Voice in an email that Gore would continue to comply with state law. On Thursday, however, he told KOGO radio‘s Carl DeMaio he would be neutral.

“I don’t want to be in the position of telling the board what they should or shouldn’t do,” he said.

30 Democratic Women: Party ‘Rife With Potential for Unchecked Sexual Harassment’

In a new op-ed, a group of 30 Democratic women are putting their party’s leadership “on notice” that the continued excusing of sexual misconduct for politically expedient reasons won’t be tolerated. They focus in part on former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who was forced to resign amid harassment allegations, and they cite — although don’t actually name — others who still operate within the county party’s tent.

“We refuse to continue to work within any environment that is unsafe,” the op-ed reads. “We reject the notion that we must choose between succeeding in our political careers and championing causes we love, or withdrawing to protect our own bodily autonomy and safety.”

The writers include two San Diego City Council candidates, Vivian Moreno and Monica Montgomery, and Sara Jacobs, who’s running for the 49th Congressional District.

Two powerful, elected Democrats also penned an op-ed on the need for greater accountability at the state level. Writing in the Sacramento Bee, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Lakewood vowed to empower a new culture “where every person knows that they have a responsibility to stop” sexual harassment.

“We have to develop a culture in which reporting is an easy first step, and the last step is to repair damaged relationships, because punishment of perpetrators is not the whole solution,” they wrote.

In Other News

Solana Beach Mayor Ginger Marshall resigned without much explanation — the second member of the city council to suddenly leave in the past month. The Union Tribune reported the mayor was often the dissenting vote on various issues, including the city’s decision to create its own alternative energy program. She told NBC 7 that she’s planning to move this summer and City Council meetings consume the time she’d rather spend with friends and family.

Dozens of mayors across the United States signed a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its decision on net neutrality. San Diego did not. A spokesperson for Kevin Faulconer told KPBS said that, while the mayor supports the principles of net neutrality, he “typically only signs onto letters regarding issues that have a specific impact on San Diego, such as NAFTA and homelessness.” (KPBS)

San Diego’s code enforcement can’t personally intervene in every neighborly squabble. A 2015 audit found that the city was spending too many resources on “lower” priority violations, according to ABC 10.

San Diego State University and a former women’s basketball coach have reached a final settlement agreement over her hiring in 2013. A jury awarded Beth Burns $3.3 million in 2016. (Fox 5)

There’s a growing concern that San Diego will run out of legal marijuana this summer when the tourist season kicks in, according to industry sources cited in the Union-Tribune. Kinsee Morlan and I have also raised this question on our Potcast.

The number of people arrested while crossing the border illegally spiked last month when compared to one year ago. However, one year ago those numbers were the lowest in 17 years. Meanwhile, the White House is still planning to use National Guard troops to patrol the southwestern border. (Union-Tribune)

And in case you missed it this week, the Bahamas Press reported that developer Doug Manchester’s “grovelling apology” in February over the way he managed the Union-Tribune may have doomed his chances of getting the ambassador post. Manchester was considered a strong contender, but investor William Douglass is emerging as the favorite.

Top Stories This Week

1. About 5 Percent of San Diego Homes Are Off Limits as Housing

A recent analysis found 57,000 of the region’s homes are vacation or second homes that often sit vacant, exacerbating the housing crisis because they’re unavailable to people who live and work here or would like to. (Lisa Halverstadt)

2. Politics Report: Candidates’ Cannabis Use

Socialists grapple with housing policy, the Port’s chairman (and business community) grapples with a proposal to radically change management of the airport and candidates for county supervisor acknowledge their own cannabis use. Is the taboo over? (Scott Lewis)

3. The Learning Curve: ‘Restorative Justice’ Can Make Schools More Violent If Not Done Right

The DA vows to hold accountable students who make school threats, a review of discipline referrals in Minnesota raises questions about teacher biases and more in our biweekly roundup of education news. (Mario Koran)

4. In Two High-Profile Arrests, Border Patrol Accused Immigrants of Human Smuggling But Never Turned Over the Cases 

At the same time, human smuggling prosecutions — meaning instances where criminal charges are filed — are higher than they were five years ago. (Maya Srikrishnan) 

5. Legal Bills Pile Up at San Diego Unified

The amount the San Diego Unified School District spends on outside lawyers rose by $1 million in the last two years alone, despite expansions to the district’s in-house legal services intended to keep costs down. From 2012 through 2017, San Diego Unified School District paid law firms more than $12.7 million. (Ashly McGlone)

For the rest of the list, check the website.

Jesse Marx is a former Voice of San Diego associate editor.

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