The Morning Report
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The pension funds of city and county workers took hard hits back when the pandemic struck in March. Neither fund recovered all of its pandemic losses, but both bounced back considerably after the first few months of the economic shutdown, reports VOSD’s Ashly McGlone.
Some initially feared that pension funds could suffer losses on a scale similar to the Great Recession, but by year’s end pension funds did not sustain losses on nearly such a scale. It’s possible, however, that negative impacts of the pandemic could continue to affect the stock market in the coming year.
Pension funds need to grow a certain amount each year. When they don’t, governments and taxpayers often pick up the tab. The city fund, for instance, needs to grow 6.5 percent each year to stay on track.
Rather than grow, the city fund decreased by .01 percent, year-over-year. The county fund increased by .43 percent. The previous year it grew by 5.34 percent.
Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested on Molestation Charges
A San Diego Sheriff’s deputy was arrested for alleged molestation and luring a child into a sex act, the Union-Tribune reports.
Jayden Devon Fleer, 27, is being held in San Diego Central jail on 15 charges. He has been under investigation for months, the U-T reports.
Fleer is hardly the first sheriff’s employee to be implicated in sexual misconduct. The U-T story details four other incidents in recent years involving harassment, groping and the sexual assault of a homeless woman.
Back in November, we partnered with news outlets from across the state, on our “Criminal Cops” series. The series detailed many examples of officers who had committed crimes but managed to stay on the job.
- More in cops news: KPBS dug into overtime spending in the San Diego Police Department (not the Sheriff’s Office) during the last decade. The department has gone over budget on overtime spending by $61 million dollars during that time.
City-Owned Former Skydiving Center to Finally Get Outside Review
The shuttered indoor skydiving center that the city last year converted into a homeless service hub will soon get an independent appraisal at a federal housing agency’s request.
More than two years after the city rushed to purchase the building with federal funds and decided against seeking a third-party analysis of the property, the Union-Tribune reports that the city agreed to the appraisal at the urging of Housing and Urban Development officials who are investigating whether the city properly used community development block grant funds on the project.
The U-T’s Jeff McDonald also revealed that the state Department of Real Estate also is probing the city’s purchase of the former skydiving facility.
The investigations are the latest controversy surrounding the city’s rapid purchase of the failed skydiving facility still outfitted with two 30-foot tall wind tunnels. Homeless advocates have questioned whether the East Village facility can deliver what city officials have promised and real estate insiders questioned whether the city had paid too much for the building. The involvement of a real estate financier who is a prominent supporter of the mayor only added to the intrigue.
MTS Gets New Use of Force Policy, Upcoming Review
Metropolitan Transit System officials on Thursday unveiled a new use of force policy for officers and contract security and shared plans to have a national transit organization quickly produce a comprehensive review of the agency’s enforcement approach.
At MTS’s public security committee meeting, board members were briefed on both the planned review and updates to the use of force policy including mandates that officers intervene when others use excessive force, warn riders before they use force and use de-escalation tactics whenever policy. The new policy also lays out guidelines for deadly force and firearms carried by contract security officers.
There are likely additional policy updates to come. MTS staff said they hope to hire Washington D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association to assemble a team of law enforcement and transit experts to analyze MTS’s enforcement policies and practices and recommend potential changes.
MTS CEO Sharon Cooney said the agency hopes the review can be completed within the next few months.
“We’re trying to get something in an immediate fashion that will direct us toward anything that’s glaringly in need of change,” Cooney said.
City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, who chairs the security committee, urged MTS to include its body camera policies in that review in the wake of a VOSD story highlighting how gaps in the agency’s policy led MTS to delete footage of a homeless man being cited before his defense attorney could access it. Montgomery also urged officials to ensure footage filmed by MTS contract officers is also publicly available since the existing contract with Allied Universal exempts that video from public records requests.
MTS officials had previously committed to have the outside consultant review the agency’s body camera policy and MTS general counsel Karen Landers said Thursday that MTS can revisit the issue of access to its contractors’ footage during the upcoming security procurement.
More Docs Show City Missed Red Flags on Ash Street
San Diego officials are preparing to release the findings of an internal audit explaining what went wrong inside 101 Ash St., a city-leased building that was evacuated in January because of asbestos. It’s expected as soon as next week.
Ahead of the release, NBC 7 recapped much of its coverage of the building and cites new documents suggesting the city plowed ahead with the project despite red flags. In March 2017, for instance, an engineering firm hired to assess the building concluded, according to NBC 7, the power system, HVAC system and fire prevention system were all in need of complete overhauls.
Similar allegations have appeared in legal claims in recent months from contractors who said city managers rushed through the building’s major renovations, triggering the attention of county air regulators.
But when city officials originally pitched the project to the Council in early 2016, they said the building would only require a power wash before employees could move in.
- “Not having Comic-Con this year feels for many like a glitch in the matrix.” (Los Angeles Times)
- A new study predicts the 49th Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Mike Levin, could be on the chopping block in the latest round of redistricting. (LAist)
- A new poll – commissioned by the U-T and 10News – shows that 53 percent of San Diego County residents agree with Gov. Newsom’s decision to keep schools closed in the fall. (U-T)
Wednesday’s Morning Report incorrectly noted that officials were reviewing the legality of using parking revenue to fund the smart streetlights program. The city attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that it is not. City Council members simply removed the streetlights from the Community Parking District budget after some raised questions about its legality.
The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry, Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Sara Libby.