Photo by Sam Hodgson

Last month, Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a rare appearance at a San Diego County Water Authority board meeting to urge the agency to pursue a “fresh start” and begin a “new chapter” in its relationship with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The Water Authority has been locked in a long, intense feud with Metropolitan that has cost tens of millions of dollars.

So, did the board members take Faulconer’s message to heart?

In a new story, VOSD contributor John R. Lamb explains that the Water Authority instead appears ready to do the opposite: It’s doubling down.

Metropolitan offered the Water Agency a settlement agreement in November that could end the long-running legal battle. Metropolitan contends that the deal “provides an economic benefit to SDCWA in excess of $5 billion, most of which SDCWA cannot obtain through litigation, in exchange for SDCWA’s agreement to terminate the pending litigation and disputes with finality,” Lamb reports.

Jim Madaffer, the former city councilman who’s now chairman of the Water Authority board, didn’t have a very rosy assessment of the deal.

“The Water Authority is forging a path to self-sufficiency, and there may be a time in the not-so-distant future that San Diego doesn’t need MWD for most of its water deliveries,” he wrote in a message. “As a result, why would we sign up for a deal that locks us into a fixed price for the next 100+ years?”

Lamb asked Metropolitan’s general manager about his outlook on whether the two agencies could come to a deal before a scheduled mid-June trial.

“I don’t see it happening, frankly,” he said.

Bry Backtracks on Support for Housing Bond

At a mayoral debate over the weekend, VOSD’s Scott Lewis asked candidates Barbara Bry, Scott Sherman and Tasha Williamson whether they plan to support a potential bond measure to fund affordable housing on the November ballot. Williamson said she does; Sherman said he does not. Bry’s response was the most surprising of the three. (Assemblyman Todd Gloria didn’t attend.)

“If Measure C passes, I will not support the housing bond measure because we will have funding from Measure C. If Measure C fails, then I will read very carefully the housing bond measure to decide whether to vote for or against it,” she said at the debate.

Lewis asked whether that marked a shift for Bry.

“No, I have always been that,” she said.

But at VOSD’s Politifest in October, Bry said she supported the measure and even characterized it as a major priority.

“We can reduce chronic homelessness by half,” she said then. “We can cut veterans homelessness down to zero. And that’s why the most important thing to me going into the 2020 election in terms of a ballot measure is the Housing Federation ballot measure. … I will be supporting that measure,” she said.

Climate Change Knows No Borders

The changing climate impacts our neighbors in northern Mexico in many of the same ways it impacts San Diego: rising seas threaten the shores, wine producing in both regions depends on the climate acting a certain way, new species are coming in.

In this week’s Border Report, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan highlights some efforts to get U.S. and Mexican authorities and stakeholders to work together to study and mitigate climate change.

One initiative “initiative between the University of California system and institutions in Mexico identified several areas for cross-border collaboration on climate change adaption,” Srikrishnan reports. “It highlighted air and epidemics, marine resources and fisheries, agriculture, terrestrial biodiversity, the impacts of drought on forests and migration as areas that will be facing changes due to climate change and will require cross-border strategies to adapt.”

South Bay Candidates Say They Were Targets of Political Lawsuits

Andrea Cardenas, a Chula Vista City Council candidate, told the Union-Tribune that she helped a young woman, who has volunteered on her campaign, sue two of Cardenas’ political rivals.

Dafne Ariza filed lawsuits in December alleging that incumbent Mike Diaz and candidate Delfina Gonzalez had misrepresented themselves on their ballot statements. Diaz described himself as a “retired firefighter,” which he is, and Gonzalez cited a Chula Vista Democratic Club endorsement.

A judge quickly dismissed both lawsuits. Diaz said the lawsuit cost him $5,000, which was nearly a third of the money he’d raised for the primary election. Both he and Gonzalez told the U-T that they suspect Cardenas asked Ariza to file the lawsuits on Cardenas’ behalf. Cardenas and Ariza denied it.

But this isn’t the first time the Cardenas family — which runs a consulting firm— has been accused of using young South Bay residents to serve their political ends.

As we reported last March, Democratic activists complained that Jesus Cardenas had split a single political club into 13 so that he could leverage his influence on South Bay races and steer financial resources to his friends and clients. The clubs in question all met at the same place, at the same time, under Andrea Cardenas’ guidance, sending their candidate endorsements to the larger party. 

The California Young Democrats website lists Ariza as the president of the Chula Vista High School Democrats. The U-T reports that she graduated in 2018.

Late last year, the San Diego County Democratic Party stripped 12 of those clubs of their ability to vote on endorsements.

In Other News

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

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