The Vista Detention facility. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

If Paul Parker had known that the law enforcement watchdog group he led would have to dismiss 22 death investigations involving in-custody deaths, he might not have taken the job.

Now that he’s leaving after 14 months for a job in Los Angeles, Parker opened up to our contributor Kelly Davis about frustrations he had as executive director of the county’s Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board, which independently investigates misconduct allegations against Sheriff’s deputies and probation officers.

While those 22 cases were canned – based on a legal opinion from county attorneys that said any investigation not completed in a year must be dismissed – Parker was able to get some things done.

Under his leadership, the  board completed 30 death investigations —  compared with six in 2016 — and issued 15 policy recommendations. Between 2012 and 2016, the board made only 10 policy recommendations.

Still, Parker said he hopes the board reconsiders its approach to the media and that current policies don’t always serve transparency goals.

City Council Votes to Extend Tent Shelter Contracts

The City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to extend contracts with nonprofits running the city’s three tent shelters.

The updated contracts include substantially reduced housing targets for the shelter tents, which have struggled to move clients into permanent housing. The revised contracts set a goal for at least 30 percent of clients to move into longer-term housing, a broader definition that the city’s likely to meet more easily than the 65 percent target set last year.

Before the Tuesday vote, Mayor Kevin Faulconer tried in a Twitter thread and in a speech to the City Council to explain that he sees the shelters as part of a broader strategy to try to address the city’s seemingly intractable homelessness problem.

But multiple City Council members called on Faulconer and the Housing Commission to work on a more detailed, holistic plan before seeking additional contract approvals for the tents. Additional analysis and planning will likely play heavily in future budget decisions about the tents, which have been funded with Housing Commission funds meant to support housing projects.

Centro Cultural de la Raza Is on the Rise

Centro Cultural de la Raza has had a lot of ups and downs since it became one of the leading Chicano arts organizations in the country in the ’80s and ’90s.

But tensions led to a boycott more than a decade ago, and the organization, which is housed in a city-owned building on the edge of Balboa Park, has dealt with financial problems and leadership changes ever since.

The group now says things are on the upswing once again, Kinsee Morlan reports in this week’s Culture Report.

“Board president Tommy Valentino Ramirez said the Centro has also started a fundraising committee and has an ambitious goal of hiring a new executive director and a small paid staff in the next few years. They plan on applying for funding through the city’s Arts and Culture Commission this year, Ramirez said, and they’re working on other new fundraising strategies,” Morlan reports.

Scooter Regulations Are Coming

Bird, the electric scooter company, announced that it would give the city more power to regulate its scooters amid concern that the popular vehicles are a menace. The biggest feature may be “geo-fencing,” which allows the city to create and enforce “no ride” and “no parking” zones using GPS technology. City officials, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s staff, have been looking for ways to regulate the scooters, such as imposing speed limits or forbidding them altogether in certain areas of the city, like boardwalks, where they are likely to endanger pedestrians. Bird, one of three main companies, announced its plan along with Assemblyman Todd Gloria and City Councilman Chris Ward.

In Other News

  • SeaWorld’s former CEO Jim Atchison agreed to pay a $5 million fine to settle charges that he misled investors by hiding information about how the documentary “Blackfish” was hurting business. The documentary exposed how orcas in captivity suffer and how they, in turn, endanger trainers at the amusement park. Outcry following the film forced SeaWorld to phase out the use of orcas. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Valley Roadrunner has an acerbic take on two recent happenings. First, “For months the Valley Center Community Planning Group members have wrangled over whether to put a series of roundabouts for Valley Center Road on a priority list — or ask for a study first.” Of course, the study is happening first, at the cost of over $330,000 in state grant money and county staff time. Second, the ongoing dispute between the community planning group, which opposes a new Rite Aid, and the county, which is on track to approve the new drugstore. The paper said the community group got a “drop dead” letter from the county in response to its concerns.
  • The North County Transit District is considering price increases, citing declining ridership and rising fuel costs. (KPBS)
  • The woman spotted with a gun – later found to be a pellet gun – at this year’s Rock n’ Roll Marathon texted a friend before she was arrested, “Death. By cop.” (NBC San Diego)

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

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