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San Diego City College / Photo by Megan Wood

A City College employee who was investigated for $10,000 in timecard fraud and nepotism is now in charge of the college’s entire $68 million budget.

Roxann Solis has overseen City College’s budget for the past 18 months as acting vice president of administrative services. But prior to that questions swirled around Solis’s behavior at work, reports Ashly McGlone. 

An internal investigation found that Solis did indeed commit time card fraud and improperly supervised relatives. Solis and her supervisor at the time vigorously denied the charges and claimed that she was retaliated against. But Solis ultimately settled and agreed to a 10-day suspension. 

Just two months later, she was placed in charge of the college’s entire budget. 

“The college’s about-face on Solis raises questions about whether the person who put her in charge of the budget was aware of the 2017 investigation and discipline,” writes McGlone. A college spokesperson declined to answer questions regarding whether the officials who promoted Solis were aware of the prior investigation, which had recommended terminating her. 

Hundreds of Illegal Entry Convictions Will Be Overturned

Thanks to a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, hundreds of people convicted in San Diego of illegally entering the country will have their cases overturned, and thousands more will have the chance to appeal.

Maya Srikrishnan reports that since the federal government’s zero tolerance policy began in April 2018, prosecutors in San Diego mostly charged people with illegal entry who they said had eluded examination or inspection by immigration officers.

The Federal Defenders of San Diego argued that a Mexican man who’d been found in bushes outside Tecate couldn’t be charged with that crime because he hadn’t actually entered the United States, and the judges agreed. 

The federal government tried to enlist the entire 9th Circuit to take up the case. The court declined, leaving the decision in place.

Organizations Associated With A3 Charter Scandal Denied Public Funds

A judge ruled on Monday that several outside education organizations will not be able to receive funds they were owed by A3 Education, a charter school company accused of scamming California taxpayers out of $80 million, reports the Union-Tribune.  

Several of the companies acted as schools on behalf of A3, prosecutors say. A3 essentially acted as a middle man. It contracted with learning centers — such as religious schools, private schools and tutoring centers — to educate students. A3 would get money from the state for each student enrolled in the institutions. It would pay the learning centers a portion of the money and pocket the rest, prosecutors say. 

San Diego Superior Court Judge Frederick Link agreed with the prosecutors and found that the outside companies were responsible for knowing that A3 was acting outside the law. Link also accused the state Department of Education of being “asleep at the wheel.” 

Will Huntsberry previously showed how the A3 case exposed loopholes in the state’s regulation of funding as well as flaws in its auditing process. Also, check out our definitive narrative on some of the key players in the alleged scam and how it worked.  

Common Sense Voters Say They Were Duped

There’s an effort under way in California to create another political party, and it’s aimed at moderates who are skeptical of both Democrats and Republicans.

About 5,000 people in San Diego County have registered to vote as members of the Common Sense Party, but KPBS reports that signature gatherers in San Diego have been duping people into joining.

Claire Trageser found 31 people who said they had no idea they’d signed up for the Common Sense Party. Most said signature gatherers had initially approached them on a college campus or outside a grocery store with a petition to “lower rent in California.”

The local firm behind the petition effort insisted its practices were above board. 

Mayor and HUD Secretary ‘Shred the Reg’

Ben Carson’s magical mystery bus tour rolled into town Wednesday. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary is also chair of President Donald Trump’s Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. 

Carson and Mayor Kevin Faulconer visited a couple affordable housing complexes and hosted a roundtable Wednesday. The two men then proceeded to shred “a regulation inhibiting the development of affordable housing,” according to a HUD press release.

It was a symbolic gesture. We think. 

“As we continue to shred excessive regulatory barriers, like we did here today in San Diego, we will see an increase in affordable housing choices available to residents across the country,” Carson said in a statement. 

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visit an affordable housing complex in San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

For real, the gap between affordable housing production and demand is huge. Lisa Halverstadt laid out some of the numbers last month. From 2010 through 2018, San Diego County and cities across the region permitted just 13 percent of affordable homes that the state had called for the region to produce by 2020. Residents on the list for Section 8 housing aid wait about 10 years for a voucher.

Elsewhere Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to streamline the discretionary building permit process to speed up new housing production. Among other things, it allows a self-certification process for engineers. 

Palomar College President Resigns

Palomar College President Joi Lin Blake resigned following intense faculty scrutiny about her leadership and handling of the college’s finances. The district’s governing board had placed Blake on administrative leave in December pending the outcome of an investigation.

College faculty and staff scrutinized Blake’s leadership and gave her a vote of “no confidence” at a November board meeting following a state agency’s declaration the school is in financial turmoil. They questioned whether certain decisions by Blake made things even worse financially – including opening two new campus centers in Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook, and Blake’s own $1 million office suite inside the college’s new library.

Her resignation will take effect on June 30, 2020, according to a press release from the college.

In the meantime, Jack Kahn, who previously served as Palomar’s vice president of instruction, will continue as acting superintendent and president of the community college district.  

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Will Huntsberry and Kayla Jimenez, and edited by Sara Libby.

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