San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee meeting. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego is on its way to repealing a law designed a century ago to make the citizenry more patriotic by policing speech.

Earlier this month, Kate Nucci reported that cops since 2013 had issued at least 83 tickets for seditious language. Shortly after the story ran, the City Attorney’s office confirmed that it was drafting an ordinance to officially do away with Municipal Code 56.30. 

A spokesman for Police Chief Dave Nisleit said he’s instructed officers, in the meantime, to stop writing seditious language tickets.

Seditious language is generally understood as speech advocating to overthrow the government, but the stories we’ve been collecting don’t, um, point to some mass movement of insurrection. One man said he was ticketed for drunkenly reciting rap lyrics after leaving work in the middle of the night.

A ticket of this nature is likely to fail a constitutional challenge, but because police have been issuing the tickets as infractions, rather than misdemeanors, they’re handled administratively, not criminally. That means lawyers aren’t typically involved in the process. 

Interestingly, though, a spokeswoman for the city attorney’s office told Nucci that there’ve been efforts to repeal the law in the past and she shared a few examples. Those efforts, however, never got very far. 

If you want more on the origins of the law, VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga laid out the history in a separate story two weeks ago.  

Why We’re Suing for Coronavirus Records

It’s been five months (five months!) since governments issued shelter-in-place orders and there’s still a lot we don’t know about how the novel coronavirus is spreading and how officials responded. 

San Diego County, which is leading the regional response, provides only the most basic information about where outbreaks of COVID-19 are occurring. In April, we asked for copies of epidemiological reports and death certificates and were told we couldn’t get those documents until the pandemic ended. Whenever that is. 

With an assist from our boy Felix Tinkov, a public records attorney, VOSD has filed four lawsuits in recent days to not only get COVID-related data out of the county and other public institutions but to dismantle bad record-keeping policies. 

Solana Beach has revealed itself to be especially hostile to transparency during the pandemic. An attorney for the city acknowledged last month that officials deleted emails after we’d requested them. 

Those living outside San Diego, take note: We’re also suing the Regents of University of California because UCSD is arguing that administrative emails are private and not even searchable without the consent of every individual employee — many thousands of them. 

If that lawsuit is successful, no UC school could use its internal definition of privacy as a justification for defying the California Public Records Act in the future. 

Politics Roundup

SANDAG Exec Also Donated to Gloria, Gómez, Ward

We wrote last week about the Board of Supervisors’ race in District 3 and how it’ll affect the SANDAG’s push for long-term investments in transit. But the San Diego mayor’s race, as the Union-Tribune recently reported, could also be pivotal. 

Assemblyman Todd Gloria has been openly supportive of the idea for a year now. Councilwoman Barbara Bry, however, has put some distance between herself and SANDAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata’s proposal to make alternative forms of transportation just as competitive as driving. 

She called it “another rush deal during the pandemic.” 

We checked this weekend and it turns out Ikhrata didn’t just donate $850 to Terra Lawson-Remer’s county campaign. He donated $600 to Gloria’s mayoral campaign over Bry’s last year. 

Campaign finance records also show Ikhrata gave Georgette Gómez’s congressional campaign $4,200 over the last year and Chris Ward’s Assembly campaign $250 in June.

In Other News

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

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