The Grossmont High School gym / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Frank Foggiano is more than Grossmont High’s basketball coach. He’s also head of a nonprofit that runs basketball tournaments the school hosts and plays in.

That means Foggiano is both requesting and signing off on tournament expenses out of the Grossmont High basketball account, which comes from donations, concessions, ticket sales and student fundraising. 

Ashly McGlone reports that the district defended the arrangement, even though it might violate the district’s own policies. Employees are supposed to refrain from non-school employment that conflicts with their job. Employees are specifically barred from using district facilities or equipment for non-school work.

Foggiano and his wife are the nonprofit’s only officers and IRS tax filings show it’s brought in more than $882,600 in revenue over the years, not including 2019. Some years, Foggiano has reported taking as much as $12,500 in compensation and other years he’s reported nothing. 

According to Grossmont records, the nonprofit owes the district at least $3,400 for missed facility rental payments normally required of third parties. The district allowed the nonprofit to use its facilities anyway. 

Airport Rental Car Fee Is Illegal: Tentative Ruling

A fee charged to San Diego International Airport rental car customers since May 2018 is illegal and unconstitutional, a San Diego Superior Court judge said in a tentative ruling. 

As McGlone explains: “The $3.50 fee imposed by the Port of San Diego on airport rental car customers was supposed to remain in place for decades to pay for a new $40 million parking garage planned along the Chula Vista Bayfront, but rental car companies sued, arguing the fee was actually a tax requiring voter approval.”

What to do about the millions of dollars already collected? It’s not yet clear. The Port is expected to appeal the decision, so refunds may be a long way off. 

It’s also not clear whether the Port’s funding plans for the garage will be derailed without the fee revenue.

The Drop in CalWORKs Enrollment, Explained

A federal program that provides cash assistance to families in need has plummeted in San Diego over the past decade, and county officials say that’s good news. The minimum wage is higher, the economy is better, unemployment is low.

But as Maya Srikrishnan reports, advocates say those factors don’t fully explain the drop

San Diego County, for decades, has been criticized for being overly strict in implementing public benefits programs for the poor. It ranked at or near the bottom in enrolling eligible residents in social welfare programs among California’s 12 major counties and it denied applicants for food stamps and welfare for families at a higher rate than any of its peers. 

An anti-fraud program requiring anyone who applies for cash assistance to agree to an unscheduled home inspection has been challenged in court multiple times since 2000.

For some, the benefits aren’t worth the hassle. One 26-year-old woman who applied for another program — CalFRESH — told Srikrishnan that the application process was complicated. It was a struggle, she said, to get the benefits she qualified for: $16 per month.

Politics Roundup

  • Three of the most influential figures in San Diego’s liberal coalition sent a message to Democrats Friday: After the primary, no more fighting over the county’s District 3 seat. The party is divided, but its leaders have already scheduled a “Unity Breakfast” in March to bring the focus back to incumbent Republican Kristin Gaspar.
  • State lawmakers are back in session and so far this one looks a lot like the last one. Vaccine protesters assembled in the Capitol. Republicans want to undo major legislation passed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. And everyone’s fighting over SB 50.
  • Assemblywoman Shirley Weber also unveiled her plan to fix school funding. Schools with more vulnerable students are supposed to get more money to help address their needs, but it doesn’t always work that way in practice.  The podcast this week explained more,and broke down three of the top March ballot measures.
  • Gonzalez said $2.8 million for audits and investigations will be set aside in the California budget. Last year, Srikrishnan reported that a bill intended to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows to obtain driver’s licenses was actually helping federal authorities find and arrest immigrants with no criminal histories. 
  • U-T columnist Michael Smolens writes that the Hunter family’s downfall in East County is grimly symbolic of the son’s political career. At times he’d expressed ambivalence about it all. He was asked last year why he ran for Congress and he replied, “My dad made me do it.”

The Thomas Jefferson Law School Demise Continues

Thomas Jefferson School of Law has again been stripped of its ability to enroll new students with veterans benefits, such as GI Bill funding.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it took the action in response to the school’s loss of its American Bar Association accreditation, which became effective late last month.

The California VA had suspended Thomas Jefferson from enrolling new students with veterans benefits in late 2017 and removed the school from the GI Bill program all together in 2018. The state acted in response to the San Diego law school being placed on probation by the ABA, but it later reversed course at the direction of the federal VA.

Despite the ABA yanking the school’s accreditation due to financial and academic issues, a spokeswoman for the federal VA said Thursday that currently enrolled students can receive their GI Bill benefits until they complete their law school programs.

Meanwhile, Thomas Jefferson Dean Linda Keller emailed students on Jan. 8 to announce that the school’s plan to teach out its current students was approved by the ABA’s legal education council.

“Recipients of those degrees are considered by the ABA Council to be graduates of an ABA-approved J.D. program,” Keller wrote.

With the loss of its ABA accreditation, Thomas Jefferson plans to become a state-accredited school. Keller wrote in her email that new J.D. students in the state-accredited program will start in either this year’s summer or fall semester.

— Lyle Moran 

In Other News

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

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