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Johnnie Perkins discusses plans to improve the water department at a press conference. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The food was terrible, and such small portions. That old joke about a bad restaurant is similar to the situation at San Diego’s city water department. Some of its employees are not performing well, but there also may not be enough of them.

That’s Ry Rivard’s takeaway from several recent audits of the Public Utilities Department.

Mostly the audits focus on employee mistakes supervisors not paying attention, low-level workers slacking off. But the audits also suggest some workers may have impossible tasks. There are eight people who are supposed to make 11,000 repairs each year. There are fewer than 40 employees who are supposed to read more than a quarter million meters once every two months.

To their credit, some employees know things are amiss. In a recent survey, only about a third of water department employees said the department dealt well with poorly performing employees. Now the question is: Can the department find enough good people to fix itself and regain customers’ trust?

San Ysidro Youth Struggle to Find Jobs

Business in San Diego’s southernmost neighborhood thrive off the thousands of people who pass through the Port of Entry every day, but job opportunities for young residents just entering the workplace there are scarce.

Voice’s Adriana Heldiz reports that nearly 27 percent of adults between 20 and 24 years old are unemployed, according to Census data. That’s almost 10 percent higher than adults of the same age living in neighboring Chula Vista.

In response, a San Ysidro-based nonprofit has created a 10-week paid program to help young residents get a barista license. But even that has its limits: There are virtually no coffee shops in San Ysidro to hire baristas.

Opinion: Jerry Sanders Didn’t Need to Meet With Unions

In a new op-ed, former San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith argues that nothing in state law required San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to keep quiet on pension reform because he didn’t meet with labor unions first. The California Supreme Court ruled otherwise, throwing a successful 2012 ballot measure known as Proposition B into question.

The decision by the state’s highest court will likely lead to an unimaginably complex series of negotiations and changes to city employee benefits. Supporters of Prop. B want the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Goldsmith said he agreed with San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, who’s asking for a new hearing on First Amendment grounds. “There was nothing in the law that conditioned Sanders’ right to free speech on labor negotiations,” Goldsmith writes.

The Union-Tribune editorial board also wrote Wednesday that Elliott’s appeal was a long-shot, but necessary, considering that Proposition B was passed by voters.

National City Death Investigation Is Ongoing

The district attorney will continue to investigate what happened to Earl McNeil, a black man whose hospitalization and subsequent death while in the custody of National City police has sparked outrage. McNeil was an informant for local law enforcement, but the California attorney general’s office doesn’t believe his past relationship with prosecutors rises to the level of a conflict, according to KPBS.

Claire Trageser dug up court records suggesting that the DA’s office paid almost $30,000 in expenses to McNeil and his family over two years. McNeil was a witness in a high-profile murder case in 2009.

An autopsy report for McNeil was completed last month, but it’s being withheld at the request of the Sheriff’s Department. The U-T reports that officials are worried the autopsy could taint witness statements if the agency requires follow-up interviews.

In the meantime, residents and activists continue to call for an overhaul of the National City police review board. In a separate report, the U-T notes that complaints against officers have piled up, sometimes for years, because vacancies on the board made it difficult to convene a quorum.

In Other News

  • President Barack Obama is coming to Southern California this weekend to campaign for Democrats running in competitive House districts. That includes Mike Levin, who’s competing for the seat being vacated by Rep. Darrell Issa, which stretches from Del Mar to Orange County mostly along the coast. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Amazon announced the opening of a new 85,000 square-foot office building in San Diego’s University City, with the promise of creating of more than 300 new tech jobs in the area. (NBC 7)
  • A $20 bill issued more than a century ago by a long-departed San Diego bank is expected to sell for six figures. (Union-Tribune)
  • A New York investment management firm has committed $65 million to a UC San Diego project seeking to speed up development of new drugs. (Union-Tribune)
  • A migrant activist who led the high-profile asylum caravans was arrested in Mexico. (KPBS)
  • The state of California joined a list of public and private agencies that have sued the federal government over persistent renegade sewage flows in the Tijuana River Valley. (KPBS)
  • A Clairemont pizza shop is being investigated after a mysterious SDG&E surcharge appeared on receipts. An SDG&E spokesperson said the company is not asking businesses to do that. (10News)

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

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