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Southwestern College / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Southwestern College has for years been grappling with accusations of anti-Black racism, and its previous president launched several initiatives aimed at making the school’s community more inclusive.

The process to replace that president, as contributor Gustavo Solis outlines in a new story, was itself fraught with diversity concerns and complaints that the school’s Governing Board shut the hiring committee out.

“Black members of the committee also accused then-Governing Board President Nora Vargas, now a county supervisor, of using her influence to boost Sanchez instead of a Black woman who was considered a leading candidate.”

“Although the number one candidate scored upwards of 70 points (possibly more, I wouldn’t know because President Vargas chose to withhold the final scores from the committee) above the second chosen candidate, there were no discussions held on members’ thoughts on her interview or performance,” one member of the hiring committee wrote to the Governing Board, according to emails obtained by VOSD.

Vargas and the college’s new president, Mark Sanchez, declined to discuss the process. But Vargas said in a statement she’s proud of her tenure at the college.

Happy COVID-19 Is Over Day

We kid. 

But Tuesday does mark a big day in the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, as California lifts a number of restrictions.

Gyms can ditch capacity limitations. Petco Park returns to full capacity beginning Thursday. Individual businesses can still impose their own restrictions, including mask-wearing. The Union-Tribune has a wide-ranging roundup of what is allowed beginning Tuesday.

As CalMatters notes, the state isn’t close to herd immunity yet, which experts believe requires vaccinating about 75 percent to 80 percent of the total population. Only Marin County has hit 75 percent, and that’s only among eligible populations. San Diego County has fully vaccinated about 62 percent of those eligible. More than 75 percent have gotten at least one shot. Lassen County, meanwhile, is sitting at 22 percent.

I reached out to some infectious disease experts at UC San Diego to see if they had any perspective to share for the big reopening.

Nancy Binkin, a professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, noted that though San Diego has been doing a good job keeping the virus contained, the region is open to people beyond our own residents: “San Diego is an important tourist destination, and people are coming from other states and countries with higher case rates and lower vaccination rates.  We need to exercise caution when we are visiting indoor venues where we may be exposed to others who may be infected,” she wrote in an email.

What’s in the Budget

The City Council on Monday voted to unanimously approve a $4.6 billion budget for the year that begins in July.

Mayor Todd Gloria and other city officials began the budget process facing the prospect of a massive deficit and the need for cuts to match. Federal relief funds helped the city avoid the worst-case scenarios and the city is now set to make new investments to combat homelessness, crumbling streets and climate change.

After blowback from the City Council and constituents, Gloria also pulled back his initial proposal to cut library hours.

What didn’t change:  A plan to increase police spending.

The Council rejected a motion by Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe that would have included a $10 million cut to police overtime.

The budget approved by the Council also includes money to study a full public takeover of the city’s power system, as MacKenzie Elmer lays out in this week’s Environment Report. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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