Deportees wait for a bus after a plane brought them from the United States to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. / Photo by Melvin Cubas

It’s easy to over-simplify the reasons why people decide to leave their country for another. It’s because of poverty or violence, people often reason. 

But at the individual level, people deciding to migrate are often making complex decisions, weighing all sorts of factors involving to the dangers they face, the resources available to them and the experiences of others they know.

In her latest dispatch from her reporting trip to Honduras, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan talks to several Hondurans who are deciding what the future holds for them – and whether that future is in Honduras, the United States or Mexico.

Each person Srikrishnan spoke with grappled with different situations that helped them determine whether they should stay or go.

For one man, who faces retribution for helping law enforcement find the man who murdered his sister, a decision to stay came out of concern for his nieces and nephews and how his own past might harm their future in the United States. For another, fear of deportation to Honduras has kept him in Mexico, rather than going to the United States. For one single mother, the economic struggles are just too grave in Honduras to stay.

District Elections Have Increased Diversity in Some Cities, But Not Everywhere

Since 2012, all but five cities in San Diego County have switched to district elections for their city councils to try and increase diversity and comply with California’s Voting Rights Act. KPBS did an analysis of the cities that switched, and found that in some, district elections didn’t seem to change anything. But others did see boosts in Latino representation.

After last year’s November election, VOSD’s Jesse Marx took a look at the cities in North County that switched to district elections, and found the shift didn’t mean wins for more Latino candidates across the board. There were some notable wins, however, like in Escondido and Oceanside.

For years, advocates have pushed the San Diego Unified School District school board to switch to subdistrict-only elections. Right now, candidates run within a subdistrict in the primary, then run districtwide during the general election. 

The San Diego City Council could weigh in to change the way the board’s elections happen, but if it doesn’t Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would force the change. The district is also in the midst of a lawsuit over the way it conducts elections.

Jacob Urges State to Probe Fire Insurance Cancellations

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob urged state insurance regulators to take “immediate action” to protect rural homeowners from losing their fire insurance.

As we recently reported, rural and small-town homeowners are scrambling to find insurance because insurers worry about more catastrophic fires. 

Jacob, who represents much of the rural eastern part of the county, said companies have been denying people coverage based on a “heavy-handed, blanket approach.” She called the matter a “crisis.”

A recent report by a state commission looking at wildfire costs said there is “strain” in the market but not yet a crisis. But the commission found an increasing number of people are getting cancelled by their existing insurers – and that data is from before the 2017 and 2018 fire years – and paying 50 percent more than people living in lower risk areas.

Jacob’s concerns, though, don’t lead to an easy solution: If insurance companies hold prices low for people in the riskiest areas, they risk financial insolvency or forcing everyone living in safer areas to subsidize people living in fire-prone areas of the state.

  •         CALmatters takes a damning look at the “fire mitigation plans” from the state’s three major utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric. It concludes that “the plans provide scant details, and little evidence to support the companies’ claims that indiscriminately clear-cutting millions of trees and replacing hundreds of thousands of wooden utility poles with steel ones will actually reduce the risk of wildfires.” It also quotes a professor who questions whether hardening of utility poles is getting ratepayers much bang for their buck. State regulators gave SDG&E the green light a few years ago to spend over $400 million replacing wood poles with steel poles. But Don Russell, an electrical engineer at Texas A&M University who researches utility-caused fires,  told CALmatters “If you were to ask me, ‘Are replacing utility poles the best place to spend your money to cut down the risk of fire?’ the answer would be, ‘No.’ Poles falling over and taking lines down with them is not a huge factor in wildfires. In fact, it seldom happens.”

(Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president for government affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

In Other News

Correction

Thursday’s Morning Report mischaracterized a Board of Supervisors vote that took place this week. The board voted for a $23.8 million expansion of mental health services.

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

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