A military police officer walks past a Border Patrol vehicle next to the secondary U.S.-Mexico border fence. / Photo by David Maung

Federal law enforcement agencies often tout the big arrests they make along the border.

But some high-profile cases are quietly falling apart, leaving people to deal with the fallout of charges against them that didn’t amount to much but nonetheless upended their lives in America, writes Sara Libby.

For instance, a jury recently found a Marine veteran and a Los Angeles Police Department officer not guilty after U.S. Border Patrol arrested him for human smuggling at a border checkpoint in southeastern San Diego last year. His career is in jeopardy and his faith in the legal system is now shaken, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 2017, video of Border Patrol agents arrested a mother on a public street as her daughters looked on in horror sparked widespread outrage, the agency responded by saying the mother was “a human smuggling facilitator.”

Yet they never presented a criminal human smuggling case against her, as we reported last year. Instead, they simply moved to deport her.

That’s That: City Council Ends Civic San Diego’s Role Downtown

So ends Civic San Diego.

The former redevelopment agency has handled the city’s responsibilities for planning, permitting and parking management downtown since 1992, when it was still called Centre City Development Corp. When the state ended the tax-funded redevelopment program in 2012, the city rechristened the organization Civic San Diego and let it continue its downtown role, which the development community largely credited for steering downtown’s revitalization.

But a former board member for the agency sued the group in 2015, alleging that the city’s delegation of those functions to it was illegal. The city has now settled that lawsuit, which included stripping the agency of its government-like powers and making it a fully independent nonprofit.

The City Council voted Tuesday to finalize that deal, making way for the city to hire nine staffers to handle Civic San Diego’s old jobs, as a standalone city department that will report to one of the city’s deputy chief operating officers. The city’s head planner said he hoped Civic’s existing staff would take those positions.

Civic supporters praised the agency for its streamlined process of approving big projects downtown. But the agency’s critics said it was insufficiently responsive to public input and that its decisions should have been made by elected officials. Hotel, grocery, construction and white-collar municipal unions had all organized against Civic in its latter years, and eventually led to its defeat (the former board member who brought the lawsuit against Civic works with the local council of construction unions).

But the agency itself had spurred plenty of non-union criticisms in recent years, leading to the ouster of its former director a year ago. And the agencies from which it was formed had their own long, storied histories of corruption.

Now, city employees will handle the jobs it used to do, and staff for Republican mayor – who has long been a Civic supporter – said the handover of responsibilities would be seamless and nothing would be lost. Civic staff and board members themselves came to the hearing to welcome the transition.

But not everyone on the City Council was happy to see the end of an organization that for better or worse has played an integral role in recent San Diego history.

“Civic was created to keep politics out of land-use decisions,” said Councilman Scott Sherman after announcing he’d vote against the decision. “We can tell by the people here supporting this, they’re all either political operatives or union operatives. It tells me politics is behind this, and not common sense.”

Council President Georgette Gomez said it was time to end Civic’s role as a quasi-government.

“Politics are always going to be in the mix no matter what, but land use is one of the core issues we’re elected to be responsible of,” she said.

Find Vaccination Rates by School

NBC 7 has created a new tool for parents wanting to know the vaccination rates at their child’s school in San Diego County.

California considers schools with a 95 percent vaccination rate to be “safe” from a disease outbreak. The reporters found that three quarters of kindergartners met that vaccination rate and 85 percent of seven graders in the region.

There remain, however, pockets of students at risk of outbreaks of disease, one public health official said. Many of those students attend small charter schools where they can study at home and do not need to be vaccinated.

In March, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry reported that a single doctor in South Park was responsible for a third of all medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego. Lawmakers in the Senate responded with a bill that would transfer the ability to dole out those exemptions from individual doctors to the state. That bill still needs to clear the Assembly.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not said whether he’ll sign or veto the bill, but suggested last weekend that he was hesitant to create an immunization bureaucracy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Tree Biology + Garage Door Parts = New Art

Move over, Rembrandt. We’ve got a new favorite at the Timken Museum.

San Diego sculptor Roman de Salvo’s sculpture-in-progress merges tree biology and garage door mechanisms, and Julia Dixon Evans has more about its inspiration.

The Balboa Park museum doesn’t often exhibit contemporary works, but its new residency program seeks to change that by melding its historic collection with new, architecturally minded works by living artists.

Need to break the June Gloom? The Culture Report also includes a list of theater happenings around town.

Local Tech Exec to Lay Off Employees — For Their Own Good

In a totally unhinged blog post announcing layoffs of about 40 people, the co-founder of a San Diego technology company called XYO talks about how he is unable to take care of his three cats. When he gets around to mentioning the people who may be unemployed, he says, “In the short-term, of course, they’d prefer to probably have a job, but it’s unfair for us to keep them in a role that really doesn’t fit the top priority and vision of our organization.”

The Union-Tribune reports the company, known by various names since it started in 2012, “has raised nearly $16 million by selling its crypto tokens online to both accredited and unaccredited investors, the latter of which was made possible by an exemption allowed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Reg A+ pathway, part of the JOBS Act passed by Congress in 2012, allows businesses to raise $50 million each year from ordinary people rather than accredited investors.”

In Other News

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

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