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A young man looks over the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Tijuana. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

I’m sorry, were you under the impression before this week that the debate over so-called sanctuary policies was crazy? (Remember, though, that there is no actual sanctuary for immigrants.)

This week took things to another level, and politicians across San Diego landed all over the map.

In one corner, there’s Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who met with President Donald Trump this week, along with other Republican politicians, to tell the president all the things he already believes. Abed, for example, told Trump that the idea that sanctuary policies encourage crime victims and witnesses to come forward, is “fake news.” (San Diego law enforcement officers have a different take.)

In the other corner is the San Diego City Council, which voted this week to support the California Values Act, which the Trump administration is trying to invalidate in court. The County Board of Supervisors sided with Trump in the lawsuit, and the City Council wanted to make clear it feels differently. Both sides, of course, missed the deadline to weigh in in any meaningful way by filing an amicus brief in the lawsuit. But there’s never a deadline on political posturing.

Then there’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer, in a confusing middle space. Faulconer has spoken out against Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants before. He’s slapped down the border wall as counterproductive. Yet he opposed the Council’s vote this week because, he said, San Diego is not a sanctuary city. That’s a bit strange for two reasons. One, there’s no set definition of what a sanctuary city is. If there was, San Diego would almost certainly meet it. Second, given that he’s spoken out against Trump’s rhetoric and many of his immigration policies, it doesn’t appear as if Faulconer would go in the other direction either, and support an effort to join the Trump lawsuit. So he’s opposed to joining California’s side, and likely would oppose joining Trump’s side. He’s just there, in the middle, with no clear take. Familiar territory.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Mario Koran delved into the many goals and priorities San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten identified at the outset of her tenure five years ago for a progress report on how she’s fared so far.

His takeaway: Marten has “moved the needle in some ways, floundered in others and behaved in times of controversy in ways that contradicted the ‘be kind, dream big’ rhetoric on which Marten has staked her image.”

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San Diego County officials are sitting on thousands of doses of naloxone, the drug that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. Paperwork and other bureaucracy is holding up distribution of the drug, in stark contrast to places like Orange County which got its supply out almost immediately.

Drug crimes and related issues will loom large for the winner of June’s district attorney race. Andy Keatts dove into how the two candidates would tackle criminal justice reforms given that many of the reforms being sought by prosecutors across the country are already law here in California.

Then there’s Nathan Fletcher, who’s also running for a spot leading the county, on the Board of Supervisors. Lisa Halverstadt examined the ways in which he’s worked to bolster his Democratic resume in the wake of his 2013 mayor’s race loss.

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San Diego Gas and Electric has gas in its name, which is why it’s maybe not so surprising that it might be an uphill climb for the company to abandon gas in the coming decades, despite state and local goals to reach renewable power.

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There’s no shortage of political intrigue going around.

I talked to Assemblyman Rocky Chavez about the Democratic-funded ads bashing him for voting with … Democrats. Andrew Keatts has the scoop that SANDAG is re-starting its search for a new director. And one of the debates that has defined the race for DA — whether there is a large group of voluntary sex workers, or whether most should be treated as trafficking victims — continues to generate interest. We had a law professor who studies the issue on this week’s podcast, where she warned against conflating sex work and sex trafficking.

Finally, the world of water politics — particularly the fight between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District — has always been intense. But a story uncovered by Ry Rivard takes things to a whole new level: The head of the Water Authority is being investigated for harassment after allegedly spreading a nasty rumor about a board member and an employee of MWD.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Nobody even knows who you are.” – A simple, elegant smackdown by Sen. Patrick Leahy to EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s claim that he had to fly first class for security reasons.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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