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The once-a-decade process by which San Diegans determine the basis of their political representation is going to be significantly affected by the pandemic.
Redistricting, the process of redrawing political boundaries to ensure equal voter representation, begins in the new year. Some local jurisdictions will be, for the first time, relying on independent commissions to do so. But everyone will now be forced to handle community outreach via Zoom, as they decide where to place the boundaries for school, fire, water and city council districts.
On top of that, the collection of Census data this year, the basis of redistricting decisions, was already chaotic enough to throw more confusion into the mix.
“The big question mark is when we’ll get the census data,” Doug Johnson, president of National Demographics Corp., told our Maya Srikrishnan in a new story.
That data isn’t expected by its end-of-March deadline. Instead, local jurisdictions aren’t expecting to have useful information until May. That’ll give them much less time to complete the normal decision-making process, and California is seeking to push its deadline to deliver completed boundaries until mid-December.
But Evan McLaughlin, vice president of redistricting partners, said the data delays don’t need to impact the public outreach process.
“You don’t need census data to be able to get community input that this community should be together because of cultural or socioeconomic reasons,” he said.
Guv Pushes Elementary Schools to Open in February
Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled $2 billion in financial incentives to help schools reopen for in-person classes as early as February, but it is not at all clear that schools will actually reopen any time soon as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state. Most local students have not been on campuses this school year but many school districts and private schools have been operating in person. The governor’s own kids have been going to in-person instruction.
“As a parent of very young children, in-person instruction, there’s just no substitute for it,” Newsom said, according to Politico.
San Diego Unified School District immediately emailed parents after the governor’s announcement.
“San Diego Unified will continue to put the health and safety of our students, staff and their families first, following the science and working collaboratively with our elected employee representatives,” the district said.
This Year in Straight Talk
Women didn’t hold back, a school district leader certainly had a take on the state of the district, the mayor reversed himself, newspapers apologized and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez displayed her characteristic candidness.
We had a lot to talk about in 2020. Randy Dotinga has gone through the year’s stories to collect the best quotes, tongue lashings and verbal gymnastics. Check them out.
- A 30-year-old San Diego man with no travel history has tested positive for the new UK strain of COVID-19. The new strain is believed to be more contagious than other strains. (CBS 8)
- The county reported 2,448 new infections Wednesday, the 30th consecutive day cases clocked in above 1,000. (KPBS)
- California set a record for COVID-19 deaths Wednesday. (Associated Press)
- A day after the state extended the regional stay-at-home order and the same day California recorded a record for COVID-19 deaths, Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order pledging increased enforcement for violations of the state and county health orders. The mayor has instructed SDPD and the city attorney to pursue $1,000 fines and potentially other penalties against those who disobey the restrictions. (City News Service)
- Some casinos in the county are promoting New Year’s Eve celebrations, despite the ongoing pandemic. (NBC 7 San Diego)
- Ralph Dotinga, a retired teacher from Chula Vista, received an outpouring of fond memories from former students this week, when news of his untimely death from COVID-19 reached social media, as reported in an obituary from the Union-Tribune. That some of those memories came from people who were his elementary school students in 1960 didn’t surprise his son, though.
“He was an extremely friendly, warm guy,” said Randy Dotinga, a longtime colleague and friend to all of us at Voice of San Diego, Morning Report readers especially. “He had a lot of health problems in his later years, but it never seemed to get him down. He was as warm and friendly as always.”
In Other News
- Mayor Todd Gloria this week released a report card on the city’s progress cutting greenhouse gasses with the help of the city’s Climate Action Plan, but as Union-Tribune reporter Joshua Emerson Smith details, the city’s claim of dramatic emissions reductions relies on faulty data. The city measures itself against a 2010 baseline, but that baseline was itself projected before the 2008 recession, and so included increases in travel that never actually occurred. In fact, the city would have met its emissions reduction targets for 2020 before it even adopted the Climate Action Plan in 2015, due to the reliance on outdated projections.
- Assemblywoman Shirley Weber joined KPBS Wednesday to discuss her priorities as California’s next secretary of state.
- Joe Stuyvesant, the executive director of the Navy Region of the Southwest, has been selected as the new CEO of the San Diego Unified Port District, the agency that acts as a landlord to public tidelands in the county. He’ll collect a $325,000 salary. (Union-Tribune)
- The Union-Tribune editorial board argued Mayor Kevin Faulconer left a mixed legacy in San Diego, as he pursues the governor’s office.
- The San Diego City Council approved a five-month extension of the city’s agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric to pay the city for the right to provide energy and electricity to city residents, after the mayor and city attorney previously determined the utility’s bid for a new, long-term agreement did not meet the city’s minimum requirements. The Council approved the extension unanimously, but Council members had harsh words for SDG&E over playing hardball with the city when it attempted to negotiate a full-year extension, and expressed skepticism the city could solicit and select a new, long-term deal in just five months.
The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and edited by Scott Lewis.