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The Chula Vista City Council
A meeting of the Chula Vista City Council / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Politicians in Chula Vista are routinely blowing past the city’s flimsy campaign finance limitations, Jesse Marx reports in a new story

The common behavior – practiced by Republicans, Democrats, Council members and the mayor in multiple recent election cycles – owes at least in part, Marx found, to vague rules that none of the elected officials who benefited from them seem too anxious to rectify, that allow campaigns to take out loans exceeding individual donation limits, with plans to pay them back after the election, effectively skirting the limitation entirely.

Mayor Mary Salas called the rules complex and vague and acknowledged they could use specific clarification, so it was clear how candidates should treat debt after their campaign is over. Chula Vista City Attorney Glen Googins said he can’t recall any complaint ever being filed about the practice, and it doesn’t appear any politician has ever been cited for it (violations are punishable as misdemeanors).

Jim Sutton, an election law attorney, said the city should defer to state rules, as long as its own regulations are unclear. Those state rules would mean unpaid debts become subject to campaign donation limits after 45 days. Bill Baber, a member of the San Diego Ethics Commission who served as a treasurer to a Chula Vista campaign in 2014, said it’s time to not only fix the city’s debt loophole, but to re-write the law wholecloth. 

Gloria Warns Homelessness Will Be ‘More Visible’

New data from the Downtown San Diego Partnership revealed a large spike in homelessness last month, and Mayor Todd Gloria predicts it could get even worse before it gets better.

The group counted 1,157 homeless residents downtown in May — up from 875 in April and 721 in March. In a written statement, Gloria said a more compassionate approach to homelessness could make the issue more visible. He said the city is rapidly expanding its leadership ranks on the issue and partnering with the county.

Meanwhile, in National City, Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis is struggling with encampments. She said cleanups aren’t the solution, but that’s what the city was forced to do after a recent fire by the 16th Street overpass on the 805. 

“We need to have housing first and mental health and substance abuse programs,” she said. “But it came to a head because of that fire. Homelessness is not illegal but the activities that take place in those communities is what is illegal.”

Note: This reporting was originally featured in the Politics Report, which is now available only to people who have donated to Voice of San Diego within the last year. Consider becoming a member today so you don’t miss out.

County Announces San Pasqual Academy Deal

Facing pressure from San Pasqual Academy supporters, county officials announced an agreement with the state to keep the boarding school for foster youth in Escondido open until next summer.

The deal extends the facility’s future, but the county has agreed to stop sending new foster kids there, and to assist in transitioning students out of the school and into permanent placements, hopefully with families.

The school’s fate has been in flux since the state and federal governments passed laws aiming to transition away from group and congregate facilities for foster youth.

The county’s decision means that the kids and alumni who currently live there have a guaranteed home and school at San Pasqual until the end of next June. 

“I don’t know what the next phase of this movement holds,” Shane Harris, a local activist and San Pasqual Academy alum, said at a press conference Wednesday. “However, whatever the future holds tomorrow, our fight will continue. But today we can say that the young people on that campus were not moved off the campus.”

San Pasqual’s supporters have argued that the site is a crucial part of San Diego’s foster system because it provides a support space for marginalized youth who don’t fit into foster families, or who find more support in a community-based living situation, they previously told Voice of San Diego.

In Other News

  • Interfaith Community Services is the leading candidate to operate a 50-bed homeless shelter in Oceanside. (Union-Tribune)
  • The county will hold more than 100 mobile COVID-19 vaccination events this month to help reach its goal of vaccinating 75 percent of eligible residents. (City News Service)
  • And lastly, if you need a laugh, here’s a photo our Adriana Heldiz captured Wednesday of a giant, inflatable Monopoly man attacking environmentalists at their own press conference.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, Kayla Jimenez and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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