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Kelvin Barrios, a candidate for the City Council, failed to disclose at least $10,000 worth of income before taking a job at City Hall.
In the months before he started working in Councilwoman Georgette Gómez’s office, Barrios provided consulting to various political campaigns around San Diego. By law, he should have documented those payments on his statement of economic interest in late 2016, but didn’t.
After VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and Jesse Marx contacted him about the disclosures, campaign spokesman Tony Manolatos said Barrios would be voluntarily amending his financial forms.
The San Diego Ethics Commission doesn’t look kindly on officials who fail to reveal sources of income that might affect their judgment. But it’s also likely that Barrios won’t be fined because he’s self-correcting (after reporters began sniffing around) and because the payments appear in other documents filed by the various campaigns he worked for.
“Collectively, the money might not be significant,” Keatts and Marx write. “But the form 700 omissions are only the latest example of Barrios playing loose with rules intended to keep political operatives honest.”
The district attorney’s office is investigating an allegation that Barrios embezzled money out of a Democratic club. In a recent statement, he claimed to have reimbursed the money and said: “I have nothing to hide. I should have been more diligent in my roles.”
Last week, Gómez distanced herself from the Barrios campaign.
Schools Lose the Reopening Battle – Again
Some businesses across San Diego were allowed to reopen indoor dining and other activities Monday, thanks to a surprising recent decision from Gov. Gavin Newsom and county officials’ approval.
In a new column, VOSD Editor in Chief Scott Lewis parses the decision and slams officials for refusing to prioritize the physical reopening of schools.
The decision was shocking for members of the local scientific community too: Lewis reveals that a contingent of UC San Diego experts sent a letter to county officials urging them to prioritize schools.
“It is so irrational, it physically hurts. It’s the same thing that happened this summer when after months of sacrifice, they wasted it with bumbling reopenings they later reversed,” Lewis writes.
- SDSU, meanwhile, has reported 13 new coronavirus cases. (NBC San Diego)
- NBC 7 San Diego is reporting that Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Karen Janney has been fired by a 4-1 vote of the district’s board.
The Next D1 Supe’s Big Challenge
Whoever wins the District 1 race for county supervisor won’t have much time to revel in becoming the first Democrat and the first Latino to represent the district in decades.
The district, which includes many South Bay communities, has been battered harder by the coronavirus than San Diego County as a whole, and the next supervisor will have his or her hands full helping ensure those communities recover, Maya Srikrishnan writes in a new story.
Though they’re engaged in a heated battle for the seat, Nora Vargas and state Sen. Ben Hueso agree on a lot when it comes to the issues that exacerbated the impact of the pandemic in their community and some of the steps that might alleviate residents’ burdens.
Both said the crisis has underscored the region’s dire housing needs, as well as the need to improve public transportation, which many frontline workers rely on to get to work.
Separated Families Are Still Dealing With the Trauma
Late last year, a federal judge ordered the U.S. government to begin providing mental health treatment to the families it had separated at the border.
Tracking those families down and ensuring they can access treatment has been difficult, Maya Srikrishnan writes in the latest Border Report, and the pandemic certainly hasn’t made things easier.
One nonprofit trying to track down families eligible for treatment has said it tried to contact more than 2,200 families, but so far has only been able to locate and connect with 337. The government has provided limited information, and sometimes a family’s last known address is … a detention center.
What is there, though, is need.
“The experiences are different, but the symptoms are from mild to severe,” one nonprofit worker told VOSD. “Nightmares, anxiety, depression, panic attacks. The symptoms are all over the place. And the symptoms can come later. They might seem OK right now, but in the future will experience symptoms.”
Monday marked the last day for the state Legislature to pass bills and send them on to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his approval or veto. Even on a schedule massively abridged as a result of the pandemic, lawmakers scrambled to weigh hundreds of bills right down to the wire.
A few notable bills that crossed the finish line:
- Seniors in the class of 2020 will get a reprieve from graduation requirements and be allowed to collect diplomas, if Newsom signs a bill passed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
- A bill passed by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber would create a task force to study reparations.
The Legislature also paid tribute to some of its outgoing lawmakers, including Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who’s running for mayor. One of his colleagues praised Gloria’s “smizing face.”
In Other News
- Traffic is ticking back up, but still isn’t at pre-pandemic levels. (KPBS)
- San Diego is pushing back parking enforcement again. (Union-Tribune)
- President Donald Trump’s new pandemic adviser is urging a controversial “herd immunity” strategy in which … well, lots of people would catch the virus, the Washington Post reports. If that approach sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also been publicized by San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who invited that same adviser, Scott Atlas, onto his podcast.
The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Jesse Marx, and edited by Scott Lewis.