A meeting of the San Diego Unified school board / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

When the City Council considered reforming the San Diego Unified school board election process in 2017, Democrats on the Council said it wasn’t their place.

“We got out of the business of governing school boards 50 years ago,” Councilman Chris Ward said at the time.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry called the district’s election process “a matter that is quite frankly not our business.”

Yet Bry, Ward and Council President Georgette Gómez all voted last week to advance a measure that would do more or less the same thing: Let voters weigh in on changing the district’s election process to a subdistrict-only format.

Local Dems have shifted dramatically on the issue in just a couple years’ time.

Gómez, for her part, said her hesitation in 2017 was because she’d hoped the school board would make the change itself. 

“They didn’t. And so this time around, I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got to do it,’” Gómez said.

Democrats at the state level are also pushing the change. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said last week it’s “past time” Democrats supported the changes; Assemblywoman Shirley Weber has written a bill that would reform San Diego Unified elections if the City Council doesn’t act.

Still No Regulations on Police Use of Streetlight Cameras

Four months after Jesse Marx reported that San Diego police were accessing footage captured by the city’s “smart streetlights” without the complete knowledge of the City Council, there is still no meaningful oversight in place. 

As police ramp up their use of the cameras to help solve crimes, the mayor’s office tells the Union-Tribune that it is still working on regulations. In the absence of such a policy, SDPD has essentially written its own rules governing when and how they can tap into devices. 

Some of those devices have audio capabilities, but city officials say the microphones would need public approval before being turned on. The devices could also employ facial-recognition technology in the future, provided that the City Council consents. 

An SDPD lieutenant has assured elected officials that while some of the streetlight footage has been shared with federal agents involved in local task forces, he was confident the footage hasn’t been used to enforce immigration laws. 

The ACLU has problems with local law enforcement’s “just trust us” approach to surveillance. It and other watchdogs have warned that the system is vulnerable to internal abuse and hacking. 

Cliff Collapses Are Hard to Predict

The cliff collapse last week in Encinitas that killed three people drew new attention to an old problem. The deaths left people scrambling to figure out if the collapse could have been prevented or foreseen. Unfortunately, it seems that such collapses are hard to predict and their causes are many, though it mostly comes down to wind and water. Ry Rivard talked with one of the region’s top erosion experts and looks at what we know and do not.

DeMaio Jumps in 50th District Race

Talk radio host Carl DeMaio announced Monday that he plans to challenge Rep. Duncan Hunter in the 50th Congressional District in 2020 (or run in a special election to replace Hunter in the event the congressman resigns before then).

“We are going to use this campaign as the model for how Republicans can fight back in California and WIN,” DeMaio wrote in an email to supporters following the announcement. Republicans, though, wouldn’t be fighting back in the 50th so much has maintaining the status quo. Hunter won re-election in 2018 even after being indicted on federal criminal charges, and in the governor’s race last year, voters in the district preferred Republican John Cox over Gov. Gavin Newsom 60 percent to 40 percent.

DeMaio ran for Congress in the 52nd District in 2014, where he lost to Rep. Scott Peters. 

In 2018, DeMaio notched one win and one loss as he rallied voters against the state’s gas tax increase. He successfully led the recall of Orange County Sen. Josh Newman, who voted for the increase, but his ballot referendum that would have overturned the increase failed in November.

I asked DeMaio’s campaign strategist, Dave McCulloch, whether he actually lives in the 50th District, which includes portions of East County like Alpine and Escondido.

McCulloch wrote in an email that DeMaio’s residence is “not an issue.” “Carl is probably the most well-known candidate with the biggest name ID, and recent polling in the district shows he’s clearly the leading candidate,” McCulloch wrote.

The Constitution only requires that candidates for Congress reside in the state they’ll be representing – not necessarily the district itself. 

The other candidates: DeMaio’s claim is that only he can beat Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat running in the district. That’s a shot at the other Republicans running, apart from Hunter. Those include El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Larry Wilske, a retired Navy SEAL from Descanso. Wilske raised nine times as much money as Wells in the last cycle but has less money available when you factor in how much he owes people. Campa-Najjar has more money available to spend than all the other candidates combined.

In Other News

  • If you need some light summer reading, the draft environmental impact report for San Diego State University’s development of the Mission Valley stadium site is out. The comment period for it will close Oct. 3. Let us know if you see anything juicy in it.
  • Sports radio host Darren Smith and his producer Marty Caswell have landed at XTRA 1360. They’ll be doing the noon-3 p.m. show. That leaves Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith as the only top hosts at the defunct Mighty 1090 not to find another home on traditional radio. 
  • Roger Showley rounded up major new projects across the region and existing spaces that are being reimagined, like Horton Plaza and the former Qualcomm Stadium site. (Architect’s Newspaper)
  • A San Diego police officer accused of soliciting sex from a minor missed his arraignment and was found dead at his home from what police say was an apparent suicide. (NBC San Diego)
  • District Attorney Summer Stephan talked with San Diego Magazine about her career and priorities

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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