U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bus parked outside of an immigration federal court in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Southern District of California, the federal court that covers San Diego, found Abel Valladares-Cantor guilty on July 27 of crossing into the United States illegally.

His offense was a misdemeanor and he was sentenced to time served, meaning he should have been released that same day.

But nearly a week later, he continued to sit in prison.

And lawyers say he’s not the only one.

Voice’s Maya Srikrishnan reports that federal defense attorneys filed an emergency motion last week before Magistrate Judge Barbara Major seeking the immediate release of Valladares-Cantor. They warned the court that others were being held illegally, too.

A federal prosecutor did not provide a reason for the ongoing detentions in court, so Major ordered their immediate release, saying, “Make it happen, Government.”

Elsewhere in San Diego federal court, Judge Dana Sabraw said the Trump administration is solely responsible for reuniting hundreds of parents who were separated from their parents at the border.

“The reality is that for every parent that is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” Sabraw said, according to the Associated Press.

What’s Driving San Diego Schools’ $41M Shortfall

San Diego Unified School District needs to cut $41 million from the 2019-20 budget.

In June, chief business officer Greg Ottinger cited five areas of cost that are largely outside the control of officials, including health care.
But as Voice’s Ashly McGlone reports, Ottinger failed to mention one of the major costs that was very much within the district’s control – the across-the-board raises to employees on top of those that were already contractually guaranteed.

Trustees awarded those raises against the advice of the San Diego County Office of Education.

“There are costs associated with recruiting and retaining qualified staff in the district,” a district spokeswoman said in a statement.

The Mayor Takes Our Questions on the Vacation Rental Crackdown and More

Kevin Faulconer
Mayor Kevin Faulconer appears at the US Grant Hotel on the night of the June 2018 primary election. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

During a special podcast interview with Voice’s Scott Lewis, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he was fine with the City Council’s new short-term vacation rental rules, which deviated from the ones he proposed a few weeks ago. After years of inaction, he felt it important to put a system of enforcement on the books.

Faulconer also talked about plans for a homeless housing apartment complex in Clairemont that riling up residents nearby.

“Look, fear is a powerful human emotion, but at the same time we absolutely need to get people off the street and into housing,” he said. “Doing nothing is not an option.”

Lewis spoke to the mayor shortly before the California Supreme Court ruled that one of his predecessors, Jerry Sanders, violated the law during a pension reform push by failing to meet with labor reps, so the topic didn’t come up.

But it did get a full airing on the weekly podcast. Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby considered the complex series of negotiations and changes to the city’s pension system that could soon come.

Politics Report: The Woman Who Torpedoed the Pension Measure

Pension reform is back and we’re going to be dealing with it for a while.

In the Politics Report, Lewis interviewed Ann Smith, the longtime lawyer for the largest city employee union, who tried to warn officials in 2012 that Sanders would be violating the law by not talking with city employee unions about the pension reform initiative first.

To Smith’s dismay, the Court of Appeal disagreed. The decision could have upended state labor laws. She was vindicated when the state Supreme Court stepped in.

Money quote from Smith: “I am so gratified that the screwed-up politics of San Diego didn’t end up creating bad law or precedent for others around the state.”

Lewis also took a closer look at the legal issue that’s underlying the current feud between the Airport Authority and the Port of San Diego. The Airport has joined a lawsuit against the Port, initiated by car rental companies, over a new fee to a parking garage that’s central to Chula Vista’s bayfront development plans.

In the meantime, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is done playing nice. After news of the Airport’s decision to join the lawsuit broke, Gonzalez re-upped her a proposal to fold the Airport into the Port.

San Diego International Airport / Photo by Dustin Michelson

There’s more: inewsource reports that the Airport may have violated the state’s open meeting law because its board did not take a formal vote on the lawsuit and did not tell the public about its legal actions.

What to Watch for This Week

From Scott Lewis: This is the last week for things to get on the San Diego County ballot for November. We should probably hear whether the measure to raise the hotel-room tax and use it to pay for an expansion of the Convention Center, homeless services and road repair got enough signatures. If it did, the City Council will have to race to put it on the ballot.

If it somehow didn’t, it would be a stunning flub. Everything needs to get turned in by Aug. 10. But Council begins its annual recess after Tuesday.

Similarly, a measure put forward by Councilman David Alvarez, with a much different plan for hotel taxes, is pending as well. Alvarez’s plan would raise the hotel room tax by 1 percent, much less than the mayor’s preferred plan. But it not earmark where the money would go.

Also up, the big SDSU football lease: The City Council today will be considering the new lease proposed for SDSU football to continue playing at SDCCU Stadium after this year, for two more years. The City Council committee on Smart Growh and Land Use did not recommend supporting or opposing the lease. The committee punted it to the full City Council. (Get it? Sportsball humor).

The committee did ask city staff to negotiate some more. But they’ve been negotiating for two years so it’s hard to see what could have happened in just more than a week. And it doesn’t look like anything did.

The city’s independent budget analyst has a good analysis of the decision.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and edited by Sara Libby.

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