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Summer Stephan (seated) and Geneviéve Jones-Wright took part in a public safety forum at Temple Emanu-El. / Photo by Scott Lewis

What should prosecutors do with juveniles who are accused of serious crimes?

District attorney candidates Summer Stephan and Genevieve Jones-Wright have very different ideas about how often juveniles should be charged as adults.

San Diego is already among the California counties least likely to charge juveniles as adults. Jones-Wright, wants to make it even rarer. The career public defender seemed to tell the American Civil Liberties Union in a questionnaire that she’d refuse to try juveniles as adults.

Stephan – who was appointed DA and is running to keep the job – said only one county charges fewer juveniles as adults as San Diego, and took credit for the county’s process of deciding when it’s to punish juveniles as adults. The stakes can be high. She thinks residents need to be aware that a 17-year-old found guilty of a murder or rape will be released at 25, regardless of whether they’ve been rehabilitated.

“That can be a very short period of time to turn someone’s life around,” she said.

In an interview with our Andrew Keatts, Jones-Wright acknowledged that there might be times when it’s appropriate to charge a juvenile as an adult. But she said the fact that San Diego charges juveniles as adults relatively rarely doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.

“I don’t care if our county prosecutes fewer kids than the neighboring one. Why don’t we become the best, and become the model? When we treat one kid as an adult, put them in adult housing and expose them to hardened criminals, we have helped escalate their offense. One child is one too many,” she said.

  • The Union-Tribune’s Greg Moran reported Wednesday that the political action committee funded by George Soros canceled all of its remaining television ad buys remaining between now and the election. That raft of financial support gave Jones-Wright a boost in her bid to unseat Stephan, but she’ll have to close the election without it. The PAC didn’t give Moran a comment about why it pulled out of the race, though he speculated that there might have been polling showing the race slipping away.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego receives general operating grants from the Open Society Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Soros. Our supporters are listed here.

Justices B Wary of San Diego’s Big Pension Reform Initiative

From Scott Lewis: Many of the city’s most insidery insiders were abuzz Wednesday about the oral arguments at the California Supreme Court a day earlier over Proposition B — the 2012 initiative that ended guaranteed pensions for new employees at the city (except for new police officers, who still get pensions).

At issue: Whether the city’s mayor at the time, one of the proponents of the initiative, should have had to meet with the city’s labor unions before he championed it. He’s the city’s lead labor negotiator and California law requires “meet and confer” before unionized workers have new conditions imposed on them.

The takeaways: Based on some of the Supreme Court justices’ questions and comments, it did not look good for defenders of the initiative. The justices seemed sympathetic to the idea that the mayor was the mayor, not a private citizen leading the initiative. But they also did not ask any questions about the ramifications of how the city would deal with a decision to throw out the initiative, which is embedded now in the City Charter. It seems like they may have asked about that if they were going to force the city to undo it.

Why it matters: Thousands of city employees have been hired since the initiative passed. They have all received a 9.2 percent 401(k)-style matching investment for their retirement instead of working toward a guaranteed pension. They do not get Social Security — that would normally take 6.2 percent out of employees’ paychecks. Any decision to invalidate Proposition B would trigger an incomprehensible series of decisions and negotiations to bring their investments into the pension system or allow some sort of flexibility or otherwise punish the city.

Trump Still Talking Border Wall on Campaign Trail

Five of the eight border wall prototypes lined up in Otay Mesa. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

At a campaign rally in Nashville on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump said he considered calling off construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in California to put pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown for supporting sanctuary cities. He suggested that a wall was already in place in San Diego, saying, “No one is crossing it very easily. It’s not one of those you can just scoot to the top. This is a real wall.”

It’s not.

The federal omnibus bill signed by Trump several weeks ago set aside $251 million for the replacement of secondary fencing between Border Field State Park and the prototypes in Otay Mesa. That construction has not begun.

Trump may have been thinking about a project to replace miles of Vietnam War-era landing mats in Calexico with 30-foot tall bollards. But that project has been in the works since 2009, according to the Union-Tribune. And it’s not quite the wall he has described it as.

• CNN reports that a group of deported U.S. veterans in Tijuana repainted a mural of an upside-down American flag, which is a sign of distress, on the border fence separating the U.S. and Mexico That makes it just the latest entry in a long list of pieces of protest art at the border.

The Latest From Campaignland

• The Sheriff’s Department has cleared Republican businessman Phil Graham, who’s running for the 76th District Assembly, of wrongdoing following an encounter in an Encinitas bar. Investigators said they “disproved the allegations” made against Graham by a woman. (The Coast News)

• Over in the North County Report, Voice contributor Ruarri Serpa writes about a misleading mailer that accuses another 76th Assembly candidate, Democrat Tasha Boerner Horvath, of voting to raise state gas taxes. The problem: She’s not yet in the Legislature, so she didn’t vote on the bill.

• Facebook is now archiving all the ads that candidates and campaigns are running and how they’re performing — a great resource for political junkies.

• Southern California might be the last place you’d expect Democrats to have trouble in high-profile House races, but the party is worried about its chances in several of them, including the 49th District race. (Washington Post)

• The school board races will be competitive after all. KPBS reports that two Republicans managed to gather the 200 signatures needed to become official write-in candidates for two seats on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education.

The incumbents had been left without challengers on the ballot. But if the write-in candidates each get just one vote, they will be included on the official ballot for the runoff in November.

In Other News

• The proliferation of short-term vacation rentals could forever change the way of life in Mission Beach, Gary Wonacott, president of the Mission Beach Town Council, writes in an op-ed. Right now, according to one estimate, rentals take up around 40 percent of the housing stock in Mission Beach. In other communities, that number is estimated around 5 to 10 percent.

• Two women described in court on Wednesday being groped by a San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy. More than a dozen women have accused the officer, Richard Fischer, of sexual misconduct. (NBC San Diego)

• Two top executives at San Diego State University have left their jobs with little or no public explanation and faculty would like an answer. (Union-Tribune)

Social Media Goodies

• A mermaid mannequin was spotted at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach atop a 50-foot rock, and apparently its origins are a mystery.

• The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill extending alcohol sales until 4 a.m. in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Francisco and West Hollywood, but not San Diego. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said none of the local legislators expressed interest in the bill. She cited among her reasons on Twitter “extending bar hours has shown to correlate with increased drunk driving & domestic abuse” and “nothing good happens after midnight (yep, I’m that mom).”

Last year, San Diego Sen. Joel Anderson, who co-wrote a similar law that failed, said there was plenty of local control built into that measure. It faced strong opposition from local neighborhood groups.

Sen. Scott Weiner, who wrote the current bill, chimed in:

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Ry Rivard and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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