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San Diegans for Justice holds a press conference addressing the city’s proposed ordinance establishing the Commission on Police Practices. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
San Diegans for Justice holds a press conference addressing the city’s proposed ordinance establishing the Commission on Police Practices. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city attorney is in charge of turning Measure B, last year’s voter-approved initiative to strengthen oversight of city police, into a law, even though one of the chief selling points of the measure was distancing the city attorney from police oversight.

Now, advocates pushing the city to adopt an ordinance that reflects the spirit of Measure B, approved by nearly 75 percent of voters, are wondering why.

The measure had three primary planks. The new, empowered oversight agency would have the right to conduct its own independent investigations, it would be able to subpoena documents and witnesses as part of that investigation, and it would have its own, independent legal counsel. That last part was important to advocates because the city attorney represents SDPD officers who might be the subjects of the commission’s investigations, so independent legal counsel was meant to address any conflicts of interest.

As Kelly Davis covers in a new story on the increasingly contentious attempts to implement the voter-approved measure, advocates are asking if it makes sense to have the city attorney write the ordinance if the measure itself is trying to distance the commission from the city attorney.

“Measure B provides for independent legal counsel” for the commission, Kate Yavenditti, a lawyer and member of Women Occupy San Diego who’s been part of the years-long effort to strengthen police oversight in San Diego, told Davis. “Why are we still using the city attorney’s office?”

City Attorney Mara Elliott, for her part, told us in an interview last year that reforms were “absolutely necessary.”

I believe that they should have their own independent counsel,” she said. “I’ve long advocated for that. It’s not a legal conflict of interest, but the public looks at it and says, ‘This doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t look right.’ And as a law enforcement officer, we have to listen to the public and respond accordingly. And I want them to trust in the system. Since I took over as city attorney, we’ve always arranged for them to have outside counsel.”

Teachers Union at War With Board Members in San Dieguito

San Dieguito Union High School District in North County is catching media attention, and not the good kind. 

Both the Union-Tribune and the Coast News detailed tensions in the district that could ultimately lead to the removal of a majority of the district’s five-person board. 

The main source of tension is between the local teacher’s union and several board members. The union has already had one board member removed – he was an interim appointee, but the union successfully pushed for a special election – and is threatening to push two others out. 

Union officials say one of the board members doesn’t live in her actual district. The other, they say, has made inflammatory and hostile comments to board members and local citizens. But the board members who are being threatened with removal say the union wants them out because they won’t kowtow to its demands. 

In order to prove one board member didn’t live where she claimed – the board member denies this – the union hired a private investigator to track her movements, the Times of San Diego revealed.

San Dieguito serves roughly 13,000 students from Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and other North County cities.  

Solving the Tijuana River Pollution Problem

Environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer hosted a kickass panel Tuesday exploring what it might take for Mexico and the United States to finally solve the seemingly intractable problem of cross-border pollution. Elmer and Tijuana Press journalist Vicente Calderón spoke to experts from both sides of the border about what makes the problem so perennial and if it can be fixed. You can watch it here

In Other News

  • San Diego’s scientific community is mourning the deaths of two local scientists who were killed on consecutive days last month when they were riding bicycles on county streets and drivers struck them with their cars. Allen Hunter II was killed in Solana Beach on June 22 and Swati Tyagi was killed in La Jolla on June 23. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego County has launched a website that helps people navigate subsidies for electric cars, maps vehicle charging stations and demonstrates how to install in-home charging stations. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego County total property taxes hit an all-time high over the last year, as property values climbed despite the pandemic. The $627.25 billion in assessed value was 3.7 percent above last year’s level. (Times of San Diego)

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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