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The seal of the Executive Office for Immigration Review / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

As a young gay man caught between gangs in El Salvador, Vladimir Cortez didn’t have a chance. So he left the country within hours of a serious threat being made on his life.

Gang harassment and violence are common experiences among asylum-seekers, but Cortez’s story has a different ending. He’s one of the few Central Americans who’s successfully won asylum here.

Very often in the United States, Maya Srikrishnan reports, immigration judges turn people away knowing that they’ll likely be killed if they return. The likelihood of death is not in itself a basis of asylum.

Cortez was able to successfully prove in court that he’s gay and that he was being persecuted for his sexual orientation, revealing publicly some of the most intimate moments of his personal life in the process.

To determine whether Cortez was telling the truth, the judge asked him about specific sexual positions.

The Great Bambino Once Clashed With San Diego Labor Laws

The World Series might be over, but here’s another baseball story for you.

Babe Ruth spent a week in San Diego in 1927, appearing at the old Pantages Theater with vaudeville acts and charming the press at the Hotel Del Coronado. He also got arrested, but not for the boozy reasons you might think.

Randy Dotinga writes that the baseball great violated labor laws at the time for allowing an 8-year-old child movie actress to recite a poem at one of his performances without a permit. He was back on the road when he learned that he’d been indicted. A new biography says he “turned himself in at the Long Beach Police Station in stage makeup and smelling of fish.”

Politics Roundup

  • Sometimes we can’t tell coastal candidates apart, and that’s not for a lack of knowledge. Often, they agree on the most controversial topics, like height limits and vacation rentals. As part of our series of election podcasts, Scott Lewis, Andy Keatts and Sara Libby consider District 2, where City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf and challenger Jen Campbell land on the same side of many contentious issues.
  • Labor groups and the Republican mayor of San Diego are working (separately) to help re-elect the Democratic City Council president over her progressive challenger, Monica Montgomery, who finished first in the primary. Still, Montgomery’s got a powerful force on her side: a grassroots coalition of District 4 residents.
  • Proposition 64 was supposed to bring transparency to the marijuana industry, but it’s not always clear who’s financing a neighborhood dispensary or growhouse. By broadening the definitions of who runs a marijuana business, state regulators are attempting to bring silent investors into the light. One such investor in San Diego outed himself this summer.
  • Proposition 10 is among the most contentious statewide ballot propositions this year, and the U-T lays out some of the arguments for and against rent control on the local level. We also talked rent control on the podcast a few weeks back and have reported on the wedge that Prop. 10 is driving into the Democratic Party.
  • In the 50th Congressional District, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is outraising Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and just got the support of a former Navy secretary who served under President Bill Clinton. Hunter’s campaign spokesman said the leading military official had been “complicit in the deterioration of our Navy” in the ‘90s. (Union-Tribune)

Hep A Reviews Continue

From Lisa Halverstadt: The after-action reviews of San Diego’s handling of the hepatitis A crisis continue a year after city and county leaders scrambled to respond to the deadly outbreak.

state audit of local governments’ response is ongoing.

And Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office last week delivered a response to a critical San Diego County Grand Jury report that concluded a lack of coordination between the city and the county delayed responses that might have stemmed the spread of the deadly outbreak.

In response, the city said it “partially disagreed” with the report’s finding that the lack of early collaboration between the city and the county resulted in unnecessary delays to responses including the installation of handwashing stations meant to help combat the outbreak.

Yet, as the outbreak surged, we documented the bureaucratic fumbling over plans to install those handwashing stations and revealed how the city and county often took weeks to move forward with seemingly simple tasks in the early months of the outbreak.

A city spokeswoman acknowledged Friday that the public health crisis posed challenges for local governments and that a simplified city permitting process and an eventual formal directive from the county that came around the time of VOSD’s reporting helped the city step up its response.

In Other News

  • San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s announcement last week that he would pursue a public energy program as a way to achieve the city’s 100 percent renewable energy goals overshadowed this depressing news: We failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 compared with the previous year. Nevertheless, the mayor’s office says San Diego is still on track to meet its 2020 goal of reducing emissions by 15 percent. (KPBS)
  • The number of deaths in San Diego County due to prescription drugs and synthetic opioids increased in 2017. Although doctors are writing fewer prescriptions, users are turning to illicit markets for relief and finding more potent substitutes. (KUSI, Union-Tribune)
  • Thanks in part to research at the San Diego Zoo, the worldwide panda population is booming. (Union-Tribune)
  • Illegal pot shop owners are getting creative. One is operating in a Chula Vista strip mall with a sign that says “Thrift Store.” (NBC 7)

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

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