In October 2017, then-San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Sheriff Bill Gore discussed their plans to implement a state law limiting cooperation with federal immigration officers. / Photo by Kelly Davis

In recent weeks, Republican politicians have made many claims about SB 54, the state’s so-called sanctuary law. They argue that it’s what’s prompting federal immigration agents to enter places like transit stations and work sites to round up and detain immigrants — including those who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

“The problem is that none of this is true,” writes VOSD’s Scott Lewis.

President Donald Trump revoked the guidelines that his predecessor had put in place prioritizing the removal of criminals — and Border Patrol in San Diego responded with relief. Even so, immigrants not accused of any crimes were routinely removed under President Barack Obama’s watch. Other states without sanctuary laws also see high numbers of non-criminal immigrant arrests, a fact that contradicts the claims that SB 54 is what’s fueling such arrests.

Has SB 54, the state’s main so-called “sanctuary” law, really changed much?

“Doesn’t seem like it,” Lewis writes. “San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore says ICE agents are still welcome in the jails. They just lost permanent office space.”

At the same time, Democrats are taking a gamble by over-promising immigrant communities that California can and will protect them.

These claims and others are just one way in which the discussion over the state’s so-called sanctuary policies have become completely untethered from the facts. Lewis, Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts discussed some of the more bizarre SB 54 claims on the latest episode of the podcast, and reporter Maya Srikrishnan recently analyzed the other two laws being challenged by the Trump administration.

Ex-Poway Supe Pleads Guilty

Poway Unified is a prestigious, high-performing school district, but it was also one dogged by various scandals over the last decade — many of which involved former Superintendent John Collins.

There was the disastrous 2011 bond deal that saddled future generations with $1 billion in debt; questions about a deal that offered Collins the same raises given to managers in the district and the revelation that Collins edited criticisms out of a scathing report on how to improve the district.

It all seems to have come to an end: On Wednesday, Collins agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and made a deal that also settled a civil suit from the district. Collins had been charged with multiple felonies related to improper pay.

“To settle the civil case, Collins agreed to pay Poway Unified $185,000 over the next 18 months,” reports Ashly McGlone.  “If civil payments are not made, it will violate his criminal probation and Collins could face a year in jail and a $10,000 fine,” a district attorney’s office spokeswoman said.

Kicking the Can on Affordable Housing

It ain’t easy building affordable housing in our part of the country, as Encinitas proved this week. In response to complaints from residents, a divided City Council removed a city-owned parcel from the list of potential housing sites.

That parcel could have seen as many as 190 low- and very low-income units, out of the 1,170 units that the city must account for in its housing element by 2021, notes Voice contributor Ruarri Serpa in this week’s North County Report. Mayor Catherine Blakespear complained that the city shouldn’t keep delaying its housing needs.

Also in this week’s North County Report, the backers of a slow-growth initiative in Oceanside say they’ve gathered enough signatures to force the issue on the November ballot. Area farmers aren’t happy because the initiative could cause them to lose some authority over their own land.

There’s a Dearth of Research on Marijuana

We know so little about the health effects of marijuana thanks in large part to the federal government’s ongoing prohibition. But with legalization in California and other states, there’s growing interest in the study of the plant for medicinal purposes.

“Researchers who 10 years ago wouldn’t have considered looking into this now want to be in the middle of it,” said Michelle Sexton, an assistant adjunct professor at UC San Diego.

In a new episode of the Potcast, Kinsee Morlan and I talked to a pair of researchers and consultants about what the scientific literature does and doesn’t show . My mind was blown to learn that the distinctions between indica and sativa, which are marketed by dispensaries, may be bogus.

An End to the Issa Protests

For more than a year, progressive protesters have picketed outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office in Vista with signs, songs and a 20-foot-tall inflatable chicken that resembles President Donald Trump. Now the protesters are packing up and refocusing their energies on electing a Democrat in the 49th Congressional District, which is Republican-leaning and spans coastal North County and includes some parts of Orange County.

The longevity of the protests, which often drew hundreds, gives Democrats hope a wave election to put them back in control is coming in November,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “But the hardening on each side” — conservatives waged a counter-protest outside Issa’s office — “is what may give others anxiety about the state of the union afterward.”

The lead progressive organizer of the protests, Ellen Montanari, sat down for a Voice of San Diego podcast interview in December to talk about how Trump’s election inspired her to become a political activist.

Lawmakers Avoid Their Own Rules Again

The California Legislature snuffed out a bill that would have closed a loophole preventing its own workers from joining a union. The effort was carried by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego, a former labor leader.

Many of the recent sexual harassment scandals in Sacramento involved legislative employees who’d felt powerless to complain out of fear of personal and professional retaliation. Gonzalez Fletcher told an Assembly committee that a union would have provided those same employees with protection.

She now has an ally in Dan Walters at CalMatters, who wrote a scathing column about the Legislature’s “history of exempting itself from the countless laws it imposes on everyone else.”

Gonzalez Fletcher told Walters that some lawmakers, in private, think a union would inhibit the work of the Legislature.

• Gonzalez Fletcher writes a lot of buzz-y pieces of legislation each session. The Sacramento Bee wrote about another of her bills Wednesday, one that would prevent kids younger than 12 from playing organized tackle football.

In Other News

Disability Rights California, a nonprofit with federal authority to investigate conditions in jails, says San Diego is failing inmates with mental illness, Kelly Davis writes in the Union-Tribune. Some of the cases highlighted in the group’s report are among the 22 cases that won’t be investigated by the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board because the group believes they’re too old to look into.

Circulate San Diego highlighted the mostly unused land around the Grantville trolley station in Mission Valley as one area that’s ripe for the development needed to carry the city out of its housing crisis. (KPBS)

Last year, trailblazing San Diego surfer Bill Andrews ingested medication prescribed to end his life, according to the Reader.

Residents and opponents of short-term vacation rentals are arguing that San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman should recuse himself from the upcoming debate because of his father’s extensive real estate holdings. Sherman’s office said he isn’t involved with his father’s business, saying the complaint is without merit. State and city ethics commissions have declined to investigate further. (inewsource)

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration has 90 days to restate its argument or resume the DACA program, which allows immigrants who were brought to the United States as children a reprieve against deportation. (Associated Press)

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors wants its fair share of the recent gas-tax hike revenue to repave hundreds of roads. (10News)

Finally, in case you missed it, Buzzfeed investigative reporter and so-called “FOIA terrorist” Jason Leopold gave advice on gathering public records at the San Diego Public Library Tuesday night. Leopold routinely and successfully sues governments that fail to produce documents. Check out the local SPJ twitter feed for key moments from that discussion.

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

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