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Tom Lemmon is business manager of the Building Trades Council and Carol Kim is its political director. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Local business-friendly groups and politicians, who for decades dominated local politics, have been keeping a close eye on a lawsuit filed by a local hotelier that sought to undercut labor groups’ rising influence.

A federal judge recently dismissed the suit, but the tensions between business groups and developers on one side, and unions on the other, certainly isn’t going away anytime soon.

In a new story, Jesse Marx lays out hotelier Bill Evans’ lawsuit and explains the ongoing tensions at the heart of it: “Evans’ overarching contention is that unions in San Diego reflexively use environmental litigation to challenge any project that doesn’t serve them economically.” 

Marx’s story doubles as a 20-year tale of how labor unions figured out how to collaborate and rise to the top — along with the Democratic Party — of San Diego politics.

Union leaders told Marx that their environmental concerns are sincere, but they also acknowledged that they’ll use any tools at their disposal to get better outcomes for their members.

“We’re leveraging for working people everything we can,” said Carol Kim of the Building Trades Council, “because this particular economy, and the data points to it both nationally and locally, it is not an economy that works for local people.”

Changes at the U-T

The Union-Tribune’s one-time editor of investigations and then digital editor, Ricky Young, abruptly left the paper Monday along with Mark Platte, who edited border and enterprise work. 

Jeff Light alerted staff about the change early Monday. Young was removed from the masthead by Tuesday. Light declined to comment and would not elaborate on whether Young and Platte were removed or quit.

Young once had a significant public presence as head of the Watchdog team and as editor of writers including longtime investigative reporter Jeff McDonald and Morgan Cook, who broke the Duncan Hunter scandal (about which the Union-Tribune is launching a documentary this evening). He used to be extremely active on social media, where he would often tangle with other journalists. He had left the investigations group and Denise Smith Amos took over the role in January 2019. 

Young also declined to comment on what happened. 

Light confirmed that investigations still fell under Smith Amos “as they have been since her arrival.”

Class Is in Session, San Diego

When journalists start working at Voice of San Diego, we give them a primer on the biggest issues, institutions and dynamics that define life in the region.

Eventually, it dawned on us that these types of big-picture explanations of how San Diego works would be useful beyond the walls of our newsroom.

That’s how our new video series, San Diego 101, came to be. Each one breaks down a basic but fundamental part of living in San Diego County, whether it’s how water gets to us or the factors that go into choosing a school for your child. 

Whether you keep close tabs on civic affairs or not, chances are you’ll learn something new by checking them out. 

In Other News

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

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