Demonstrators in Oakland urge voters to support Prop. 15. / Image via Shutterstock

Last week, state Sen. Ben Hueso made clear the difficulties local Democratic candidates were having weighing in on Prop. 15, the so-called split roll tax that would ultimately hike taxes for big businesses, raising money for local schools and governments. Hueso initially told KUSI he was against the measure; soon after he flipped his stance.

The many debates and panels we held at Politifest over the last week showed Hueso is far from the only local Democrat having a hard time with the measure

As Scott Lewis writes in a new story, even the Democrats with strong support from public employee unions, like mayoral candidate Todd Gloria, just can’t get on board with the measure.

We have posted several Politifest discussions online:

New Special Ed Form Is Putting Parents on Edge

Distance learning has spurred all kinds of new challenges for families, particularly among historically disadvantaged groups within the school system.

In a new story, Will Huntsberry delves into one of those dilemmas: San Diego Unified has asked parents of special education students to sign a special waiver consenting to take part in telehealth services.

The 12-point form has made many families nervous, and special education attorneys Huntsberry spoke with said there is some cause for concern.

One said parents should press the district on whether they’ll still receive services if they don’t sign the form. (A San Diego Unified spokesman didn’t immediately respond to clarify.)

Another said he believes one bullet point “indicates [the district] may not be responsible for progress they should be responsible for.” 

Wooing the Smarty-Pants Off Another City

The El Cajon City Council heard pitches last month from two companies that really, really want to test out their technologies in public rights of way. And in the process, they laid it on pretty thick.

A representative from Qualcomm said, according to the Union-Tribune: “We want to do a global PR, all over the world, to put the city of El Cajon on the map as the 5G Smart City and make a fantastic use case of this.”

That could include cameras equipped with artificial intelligence in parks. The company, however, is promising not to turn on any features that the city isn’t “comfortable with.”

Cox Smart Communities, in the meantime, wants to use the streetlights to push out notifications and collect information on vehicles and people so that “you can really tailor it down to the type of people that you want to attract,” the U-T reported.

We haven’t reviewed the pitches ourselves, but it all sounds vague and not at all how public planning is supposed to work — i.e. identifying a problem that requires a technological solution and not the other way around. Indeed, the Cox representative was quoted as saying: “We’d like to (help you) understand what your needs are…”

Since 2016, General Electric and other companies (some fueled by private equity) have made similarly sunny pitches to San Diego about using smart streetlights to save energy, count cars and democratize urban life. 

None of that panned out. The system evolved into a tool for police — until it got defunded and shut down while the City Council works on a surveillance ordinance. 

Too Many Cooks in the Tijuana River

A new law signed last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom aims to help solve a sort-of “too many cooks” problem when it comes to the cross-border sewage issue.

The law, written by state Sen. Ben Hueso, “seeks to address the complicated nature of multiple agencies and governments working together by creating a framework and a mitigation program they can all agree to, addressing their common problems, like sewage runoffs in Tijuana,” Maya Srikrishnan writes in this week’s Border Report.

On top of the actual cross-border sewage flow issue itself, who’s in charge of what has been an ongoing related headache. In August, Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted in a VOSD op-ed that “one of the biggest issues is that no one agency is in charge of the problem. A whole range of agencies – the EPA, International Boundary and Water Commission, State Department, Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department, not to mention state and local agencies – all have jurisdiction or interest in this international issue.”

In Other News

  • ESPN examined San Diego Loyal’s decision to walk off the field following an anti-gay slur directed at one of its players. 
  • In an op-ed, architect Jack Carpenter argues the Midway district won’t fulfill its potential as a vibrant neighborhood unless voters approve Measure E to raise the area’s height limit.
  • Both the Union-Tribune and KPBS recently published big-picture overviews of the race for San Diego mayor.

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

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