The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
A new audit into the San Diego Association of Governments’ regional infrastructure program TransNet encourages the agency to lay out how it will cancel, delay or reduce the scope of its transportation projects to deal with the tax-funded program’s financial problems.
Last year, SANDAG released a plan to finish all the projects it promised voters in 2004 to ease traffic and improve public transit, even though it was bringing in far less than anticipated and everything was costing way more than anticipated.
A new audit from a committee formed to oversee TransNet says it’s time to start building contingency plans, Andrew Keatts reports.
The audit didn’t just say SANDAG needs to start deciding how it will prioritize the remaining projects against one another as funds become scarcer.
It also found that the part of TransNet that commits money to the Metropolitan Transit System to operate trains and buses is expected to cost more over the next 30 years than it will bring in. For now, SANDAG and MTS are playing that issue by ear, too.
And the audit determined that SANDAG could have more trouble if there’s a recession. If there’s a recession, the agency might have to take money that was intended for public improvements and use it to pay off its debts instead.
San Diego County DA Sued Over Misconduct Records
The First Amendment Coalition, which advocates for open government and freedom of the press, filed suit against the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to force the release of records involving sexual misconduct or harassment claims made against its employees.
The coalition said in a statement the DA had acknowledged six instances dating back to 2013 – one of which involved a prosecutor accused of taking a nude photo on county property – but has only released summaries of those allegations rather than the actual documents.
David Snyder, executive director of the coalition, told multiple reporters that the summarized responses set a bad precedent and risked gutting an important California Public Records Act provision.
Scott Lewis, Jesse Marx and Randy Dotinga all contributed to this week’s Politics Report. In includes a post on how the failed fight to bring a mall to the shores of a Carlsbad lagoon is still haunting politics there. An influential young operative in local conservative politics explains why he left the Republican Party and Lemon Grove flirts with giving up its status as a city — what that would actually take to happen.
More politics and policy: Utilities are strictly liable for property damage if their equipment helped caused a wildfire, and so Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a deal that would shield those companies from some fire-related costs. It’s politically unpopular, but if public officials aren’t willing to take land use planning more seriously, nature will.
- David Alvarez, who’s about to be termed out of the City Council, tried to block the Democratic Party endorsement of his challenger, Sean Elo, in the community college race. (Union-Tribune)
- On this week’s voice of San Diego podcast, U-T reporter Morgan Cook visited to discuss allegations that social workers failed to protect twin boys who’d been sexually abused by their foster father. The county responded by saying the boys had “acted unreasonably, carelessly, and/or negligently in and about the matters alleged in the complaint in that they did not exercise ordinary care, caution, or prudence for their own safety and protection.”
SD City Council to Consider a Bunch of Ballot Measures Monday
Here’s the gist of each:
- The first would drop the requirement from the city charter that when a public member of the city’s audit committee applies for reappointment there be at least two candidates to consider.
- Two proposals to redevelop the former Charges stadium and surrounding Mission Valley area – SoccerCity and SDSU West – will be discussed. The city attorney has attempted to throw both off the ballot and is appealing court decisions that allowed both to go forward. The U-T had more details on those separate court disputes last week.
- The city HR department is proposing to reinstate a disability retirement benefit for police officers who, according to a staff report, “suffer a nervous or mental disorder as a result of a violent attack causing great bodily harm.”
- City Councilwoman Barbara Bry is proposing to clarify the type of information that needs to be disclosed by business interests contracting with the city. In 2016, inewsource shed light on a major loophole in a 1992 transparency law.
- A San Diego Unified trustee is proposing to limit terms for the school board. It’s one of several ideas to come from the County Grand Jury and residents who feel the school board election process – which is governed by the city charter – disenfranchises voters.
- Bry and Councilman Chris Ward are proposing to clarify how long Council members can serve. A staff report says the city will consider the legal implications of the word “consecutive” and whether term limits are intended to be a lifetime ban on such service.
- Attorney Robert Ottilie is proposing a package of compensation reforms for elected San Diego officials. That includes increasing the salaries of the mayor and Council by using California Superior Court judges’ pay as the benchmark. Supports argue that higher pay would limit potential conflicts of interest, the U-T reported.
Also Happening Monday …
- The Plaza de Panama project is headed back to court. It’s part of a controversial Balboa Park overhaul and has been stalled for nearly two years by lawsuits.
- A hearing will be held for Bryan Pease’s complaint that Councilwoman Lorie Zapf shouldn’t be allowed to run for re-election in District 2. Pease, an attorney, ran against Zapf in the primary but finished third. U-T columnist Michael Smolens explained Friday how Zapf could end up serving 20 years on the City Council despite a voter-approved in 1992 limiting Council members to two four-year terms.
In Other News
- Trevor Hoffman, the legendary relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. His speech was heavy on his love for San Diego and the people who helped him succeed here. You can watch it and other highlights here.
- The U-T reports there’s something of a turf war heating up at the airport between frustrated cab drivers and ride-sharing services.
- The Sweetwater Union High School District board sent a $400 million bond to the November ballot for building repairs and the acquisition of land for new schools. (NBC 7)
- The California Public Utilities Commission agreed that consumers should stop paying the costs imposed on them after a radiation leak shut down the San Onofre nuclear plant in Oceanside. (Union-Tribune)
- The San Diego Museum of Man is considering a name change. One of the options is Museum of Humankind. (10 News)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and edited by Sara Libby.