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The eyes of San Diego media were watching Judge Eddie Sturgeon’s courtroom Tuesday as police unions representing six local cities, harbor police and San Diego schools argued against the release of officer disciplinary files. Sturgeon agreed to halt the release of those files for at least three and a half weeks.

Voice contributor Kelly Davis reports that it was the latest in a series of legal challenges by police unions throughout California seeking to limit the scope of SB 1421, landmark legislation that gives the public access to records of police shootings and substantiated allegations of sexual assault or lying by on-duty officers.

The police unions argue that the legislation does not clearly state that the law applies retroactively. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2019. However, the author of the bill has stated in writing that lawmakers absolutely intended the law to open up past records, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

Union-Tribune reporter Greg Moran also noted Tuesday that the state attorney general’s office, citing a similar legal order issued in LA, has declined to release records regarding its own investigators.

Still, disciplinary files have begun to trickle out of select police agencies in San Diego County. Both NBC 7 and the U-T last week obtained records showing that a Chula Vista police officer was forced to resign in 2018 after having sex on duty.

Graham Accuser to Do Jail Time

The woman who accused Republican Assembly candidate Phil Graham of sexual misconduct pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a false police report. A judge sentenced Nichole Burgan to 48 hours in prison, the Coast News reported, plus fines, community service and three years’ probation.

As Jesse Marx detailed last month, Burgan’s allegation was picked up and spread by Graham’s opponents — some known, some unknown — in the days before the June primary, even after the Sheriff’s Department had cleared him of wrongdoing. Two Democrats would go on to compete in the 76th Assembly District November election, evidence of a historic blue wave, or so the narrative went.  

In a statement to the court, Graham said the allegation has had “a devastating impact on my reputation and my life. And I believe, more consequentially, interfered with and corrupted an election. In a free and democratic society, this is a reprehensible crime.”

Graham, the stepson of former Gov. Pete Wilson, also put part of the blame on social media and the lasting effects of viral news.

“Simply do a Google search and ugly stories pop right up,” he told the judge. “Yes, there will be stories of Ms. Burgan pleading guilty, but those other stories will always be there, and sadly, even though the evidence of falsification and lying to law enforcement is clear, that alone will never suffice to eradicate doubt.”

Culture Report: Doll-Making as a Cultural Exercise

In this week’s Culture Report, VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans introduces readers to Rizzhel Javier, a teaching artist who has an exhibition at the New Children’s Museum featuring self-portrait dolls produced in workshops from San Ysidro to Vista. The dolls are meant to foster discussions about race, migration and family origin.

Also in this week’s Culture Report: helpful reminders on shows that are closing soon, a rundown of culture events and some very cute puppies(!).

Op-Ed: Nuance Needed in Inclusionary Housing Talks

For more than 15 years, market-rate developers in the city have had a choice: Reserve 10 percent of the units in their projects for low-income renters, or instead pay a fee so the city can help fund affordable-housing projects.

Now city leaders are mulling an update to that policy, including the possibility of axing the fee option altogether.

Former San Diego State planning professor Nico Calavita, who advocated for the so-called inclusionary housing policy now on the books, argues in a new op-ed that the policymakers should consider the efficiencies and outcomes that can sometimes come with fees versus mandatory on-site affordable housing.

Vote on Our Next People’s Reporter Investigation

In recent months, the People’s Reporter has looked into how the city prioritizes city street repairs, why the trolley doesn’t go to the airport and more.

Now it’s your turn to tell us what to dig into next.

Vote here to let us know whether you’d like us to check the status of a city-owned cemetery, water main fixes or the city’s utility pole undergrounding efforts.

And don’t hesitate to send us more questions here.

School District Holding Off on Special Ed Change

San Diego Unified has decided to press pause before implementing a plan that would force some special education teachers to manage more students, KPBS reports.

The district had wanted to change some teachers’ job classifications, which would have the effect of increasing the workloads of teachers who say they are already struggling to keep up.

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan has reported on challenges and safety concerns tied to staff shortages.

In the meantime, the U-T reports that California’s list of lowest performing schools includes 58 across San Diego County, 19 of which are based within San Diego Unified.

News Nuggets

  • KPBS has a new podcast about one of America’s oldest hate groups — which was operating openly on Marine Corp Base Camp Pendleton in the 1970s.
  • The San Diego City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to repeal the city’s vehicle habitation ordinance, which has often been aimed at homeless San Diegans living in cars.
  • A Dodgers baseball fan died after a Padres player’s foul ball hit her in the head during an August game in Los Angeles. (ESPN)
  • Chula Vista has hired a dozen firefighters following a voter-approved sales-tax hike meant to increase public-safety investments. (Union-Tribune)
  • The iconic California Tower in Balboa Park is set to close for at least seven months starting later this month to allow for a retrofit project. (KUSI)
  • Poway Mayor Steve Vaus wants his city to pony up cash to build backyard granny flats. (Union-Tribune)
  • The owner and employee of a La Jolla gallery pleaded guilty in an ivory trafficking case. They were sentenced to pay fines and complete 200 hours of public service at the San Diego Zoo. (Union-Tribune)

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

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