Inside of the North City Pure Water Facility / Photo by Megan Wood

Since the drought a few years ago, there’s been widespread support for the city of San Diego’s ambitious plans to get a third of its drinking water from recycled sewage.

And yet, we live in San Diego. So, of course, the project, known was Pure Water, is nonetheless tied up in court. Construction on the whole project is up in the air, at least briefly, and delays will cost $4 million a month.

What happened? The City Council wants union-friendly contractors to have the leg up in getting large chunks of the project.

An association representing contractors, including union and non-union companies, took the city to court, arguing the union-friendly language violates a 2012 ballot measure.

Ry Rivard explains what is happening and how the Pure Water litigation could affect other major projects across the region. 

College President: Sorry (Sort of) Over Record Request of Student Journalists

The California Public Records Act is an important tool for journalists and other members of the public. It allows us to keep an eye on the inner workings of government by securing access to certain documents. 

Last month, Southwestern College attempted to turn that law on its head by demanding that the student-run newspaper provide the school with an unpublished video of a contentious student government meeting that was under investigation. One administrator argued that The Sun was an extension of the college — a public agency — and therefore its records should be subject to disclosure. 

The Sun declined. It cited other California laws that protect journalists from disclosing their sources, and eventually the college backed down. 

College President Kindred Murillo told the U-T that she’d apologized to The Sun for the “tone” of the exchange and formally withdrew the request. But she stood by the decision to send The Sun newspaper a PRA in the first place, arguing the video would still be useful to administrators. 

The college and its student journalists have long been at odds. 

In 2010, then college president Raj Chopra ordered The Sun to stop printing just as it was preparing to publish a story about a pay-to-play scandal involving administrators, board members and contractors. The college then targeted the newspaper with an audit and hired a lawyer to investigate its student advisor, cutting his pay.  

Politics Roundup

Hueso, Gonzalez Split on Reining in Payday Lenders

State Sen. Ben Hueso has been openly critical of a bill — co-written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez — to cap the interest rate on payday lender loans. He’s argued that AB 539 would drive the lending industry, especially in poorer communities, underground. That same industry just so happened to donate nearly $24,000 to his 2018 re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, two audits proposed by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath are in the works. One will investigate California State University’s secret hoarding of $1.5 billion and the other will take a closer look at the campuses involved in the nationwide college admissions scandal. NBC 7 reports that a Solana Beach man wrapped up in the case has pleaded guilty. 

Discrimination in the Housing Market

The U-T reports that sexual harassment in housing is gaining more visilbility in the #MeToo era, and points to a new federal lawsuit. A Spring Valley landlord has been accused of subjecting numerous tenants to unwanted advances, preying on a fear of eviction to coerce sex. 

Even getting into an apartment can cause its own problems. In a new VOSD op-ed, Maria Hernandez, a Poway resident and housing advocate, argues that Section 8 vouchers should open doors, not close them. She was fortunate enough to find an affordable housing operator willing to accept her, but members of her own family still struggle. 

“More than 300,000 California families receive housing vouchers, and although we hear about California’s housing crisis every day, many of those vouchers go unused because landlords won’t consider applicants with them,” she writes. 

In Other News

  • Climate change will cause larger and more damaging fires than in the past, but insurance companies aren’t permitted to take this “new normal” into account, meaning more people living in rural San Diego County end up being denied coverage. We tackled this conundrum on the podcast
  • NBC San Diego has more details on the toddler who died after contracting E. coli at the San Diego County Fair.
  • There’s another rabbit in the case involving Rep. Duncan Hunter and it’s name is Cadburry. (Times of San Diego)

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

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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