The Morning Report
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SDPD takes up a third of the city’s general fund budget, and the city has been sending the department more and more money over the last decade.
After the City Council’s decision last week to approve a budget that sends tens of millions more to SDPD rather than less (or even no) money as many protesters demanded, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone delved into the numbers to answer some basic questions about how much money SDPD gets and how it spends it.
“Out of $539 million in total general fund police expenses, more than $271 million went to police wages and nearly $201 million went to benefits in 2020. Combined, those line items account for nearly 86 percent of the budget, city budget records show,” McGlone reports. “Cutting anything close to $100 million would require cutting police employees.”
And while Council President Georgette Gomez suggested on the VOSD Podcast last week that she and her colleagues are just getting started looking for potential cuts to the agency, further cuts to this particular budget must be initiated by the mayor himself, who has shown no interest.
“And even if a majority or all Council members wanted to make changes sooner, the mayor would need to be on board and driving the change, to some extent,” McGlone reports. “That’s because the city charter says the mayor is responsible for amending the budget.”
San Diego Unified to Present Reopening Plan
The San Diego Unified School District staff will present its reopening plan to the Board of Education on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
But you can’t go and you can’t chime in during it. If you want to weigh in on the plan, you have to do so before 9 a.m. You can email up to 150 words to email@example.com.
There’s only one thing missing: a plan to weigh in on. There are no drafts and no documents on the district’s agenda.
The unusual meeting and prep materials emphasized just how unusual this time is for school districts across the region, writes Scott Lewis. He argues that the future of public education is in the balance. They face very difficult considerations. On the one hand, if they decide not to reopen campuses, parents may flock to other homeschool platforms. If they do open, parents may not feel comfortable sending kids or they may not like the major modifications schools have to implement.
And they don’t have the money to implement all those modifications.
Parents are … interested: Our story on Cajon Valley’s plan to reopen was shared by thousands on Facebook and it generated an engrossing and not terrible discussion. Megan Wood collected some of the best comments.
Climate Updates Make the Budget
For a while there it looked like coronavirus-related budget strains might prevent the city from updating its Climate Action Plan as scheduled.
But, as VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer reports in the latest Environment Report, the version of the budget OK’d last week does include money for the updates after all.
Speaking of the budget and the intense interest it’s suddenly generated thanks to the public’s interest in defunding the police, the city still has a long way to go when it comes to environmental justice issues.
“Non-white San Diegans are at the greatest risk from flooding and fires exacerbated by climate change; they live the closest to waste sites, pesticide use and drinking water contaminants; they have the highest asthma and cancer rates, and the lowest birth weights; they’re surrounded by fewer trees and thus are more exposed to extreme heat, which likely has an impact on mental health,” Elmer writes.
County Lands on Wrong Side of Two Court Decisions
On climate: Speaking of climate action plans, the Environment Report also notes that an appellate court just told San Diego County is must rewrite its climate plan, which has been tied up in lawsuits for years, because of the plan’s reliance on carbon offsets.
“Appellate justices essentially said hinging county development on non-local offset projects is not an enforceable form of greenhouse gas mitigation under California’s Environmental Quality Act,” Elmer writes in the Environment Report.
On immigration enforcement: The Supreme Court decided to pass on hearing the Trump administration’s case against the so-called “sanctuary” state laws that passed in California after Trump took office.
The laws limited how local law enforcement and federal immigration official can interact, prohibited private employers from granting Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to worksites or documents without a judicial warrant and created a state inspection system for immigration detention facilities located in California.
In April 2018, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to back the Trump administration’s lawsuit challenging these laws, an action led by Supervisor Kristin Gaspar.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who was not in office when the supervisors voted to support the office, cheered the ruling: “I was proud to see the Supreme Court reject the anti-immigrant efforts of President Donald Trump and Supervisor Kristin Gaspar who sought to abolish California’s protections for immigrants.”
Sally Ride > Random Woman Getting Forcefully Kissed
The removal last week of a statue of Christopher Columbus from a Chula Vista park has reignited the discussion around who shouldn’t be celebrated in public spaces.
In a new op-ed piece, VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga makes the case for who should: more women. San Diego has more than 70 statues celebrating something from history only one of them is a woman.
“The most urgent need is for women to be represented, real ones with names and histories and impact. Woman sculptors are key to making this happen,” Dotinga writes.
He argues the best place to start is with astronaut Sally Ride, “the first woman in space, an LGBT icon and a longtime San Diegan. She was also quietly but firmly fierce.”
“We all deserve to be able to look up at a public park, see a statue of someone like ourselves and know that we belong here,” Dotinga writes.
In Other News
- Cities like National City that depend on large amounts of sales tax revenue to keep their budgets afloat are having an especially hard time. (KPBS)
- San Diego spent $220 million over nearly a decade as a result of lawsuits and claims against the city, an audit found. (Union-Tribune)
- The University of California system voted Monday to support an effort being led by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to overturn the state’s ban on affirmative action. Weber talked to VOSD about the push, which must be approved by voters statewide. (NBC San Diego)
The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Scott Lewis.