The Morning Report
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Pedicabs are a familiar sight in the Gaslamp. But San Ysidro used to have a burgeoning pedicab industry of its own, and state and local officials are now hoping to revive it.
Pedicabs that get a boost from electricity emerged less than a decade ago as a mobility solution for the thousands of people who crossed into San Ysidro every day, often on foot and uphill.
However, the industry came to a halt around 2016 after the permitting process changed hands. It went from the city’s Transportation and Stormwater Departments to the police, who interpreted regulations in a different way. There were also fees that led some businesses to stop service.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said she hopes a clarification in state law will settle the issue locally and clear up similar issues in other cities. An expansion of electric-assisted pedicabs could better connect people who cross the border on foot to transit and nearby businesses without cars.
Republicans Banking on AB 5 Opposition
A clearer picture of the efforts to tweak AB 5, the state law written by Gonzalez that limits the use of independent contractors, is starting to emerge in the California Legislature.
Republicans have offered a bunch of measures in recent days that would either repeal or amend the law. We highlighted several of them in the Sacramento Report this week, including one, written by state Sen. Pat Bates, that would exempt freelance journalists from annual publishing caps.
Republicans also hoping to use anti-AB 5 sentiment to their advantage in Gonzalez’s district. John Vogel, an IT analyst from Chula Vista, has made a “full and immediate” repeal of AB 5 the centerpiece of his campaign. Considering that Gonzalez won her last election with 75 percent of the vote, Vogel is a long shot.
But his entry into the race is having one immediate effect — on the other Republican challenging Gonzlez. Because Lincoln Pickard is a member of the local GOP central committee and because Vogel got the GOP endorsement, Pickard is unable to campaign on his own behalf. He literally can’t tell people to vote for him.
- On the podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby analyze the state of two high-profile races ahead of the March election: San Diego mayor and the 50th Congressional District. A few interesting polls have appeared in the mayor’s race. They show Todd Gloria is in the lead, but there are still a lot of undecided voters.
- The Politics Report this week has cash-on-hand totals for the candidates in local races, so you can see for yourself who’s about to start bombarding your mailbox and TV with ads. Huge thanks to Mason Herron, a political consultant and president of Edgewater Strategies, for putting the totals together.
- Republican state Sen. Brian Jones of Santee got a gun-rights bill through the Democrat-controlled Legislature recently. U-T columnist Michael Smolens considers the very narrow intersection of criminal justice reform and Second Amendment devotion that gave Jones’ bill so much support.
Former San Diego Border Patrol Chief Tapped to Lead Entire Agency
The Trump administration has tapped former chief of San Diego’s Border Patrol sector, Rodney Scott, to oversee the larger Border Patrol effort, the Associated Press reports.
Scott was chief of the San Diego sector up until roughly a year ago when he was transferred to Washington, D.C. Before coming to San Diego, Scott was chief of the El Centro sector. While in San Diego, he oversaw some of the administration’s most controversial moments.
In 2018, he led President Donald Trump and other Department of Homeland Security officials to tour the border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, telling the officials about the en masse border crossings that happened in the 1990s, before the first border fencing was put in place, the Union-Tribune reported at the time.
Scott was also in charge in San Diego when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to try to prosecute every adult who crossed the border illegally, which led to a surge in family separations and brought Operation Streamline, the separate court system for illegal entry misdemeanors, to San Diego’s federal government.
He was chief when the large migrant caravans of 2018 came to Tijuana, and he defended the Border Patrol agents who fired tear gas into Mexico because agents, he said, were being assaulted with “a hail of rocks,” the Associated Press reported.
Scott also made the controversial decision in November 2018 to change rules at Friendship Park, where families split by the border could come to converse and “pinky kiss” through a metal fence and even hug during periodic “door openings.” In November, the U-T reported, a surprise wedding ceremony between a Mexican woman and a U.S. man who turned out to have a drug smuggling conviction called Border Patrol’s background checks into question.
In Other News
- The replanting of a Friendship Park garden this weekend was the latest twist in a sometimes-adversarial, sometimes-conciliatory relationship between border agents and activists. (Associated Press)
- After a student died, San Diego State University is putting limits on how, when and where fraternities and sororities can recruit and socialize. (Union-Tribune)
- County Supervisor Greg Cox is shooting back at Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos for his claims that the county government should be doing more to combat the border sewage crisis. In a response to Castellanos, Cox argues that “the county is the only local agency that has proposed real-world solutions to fix this problem.”
- The eight-year project to dismantle the San Onofre nuclear plant is about to begin. (Union-Tribune)
- The federal government filed a lawsuit against California Friday in San Diego federal court over the state’s recently enacted law banning the operation of private detention facilities. We looked at the impacts the state bill would have on facilities in San Diego County in October. (Fox 5)
- As attendance declines, the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds is searching for new ways to make money. That’ll likely mean fewer gun shows and horse races, and more music festivals. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.