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A San Diego Fire-Rescue officer fills up a needle with the COVID-19 vaccine. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Californians know much better than most that vaccine mandates tend to meet some resistance.

Before the pandemic, the California Legislature was shut down because an unhinged vaccine mandate opponent threw menstrual blood at lawmakers. Rob Schneider initiated a bizarre feud with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez over them.

But those lawmakers, to their credit, were resolute: You don’t have a right to endanger other people’s lives. You might have a right to refuse a vaccine, but you don’t have a right to attend public school or utilize other services if you do. That was a case they were willing to make before this deadly virus that has stolen the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans settled in.

Now, though, with the evidence and the urgency pulsating, governments seem wary of implementing them, particularly if it might annoy members of any public-sector union, like teachers or police officers.

The San Diego Education Association said last year it would lobby to keep teachers employed who declined to get vaccinated. (This, despite also lobbying that teachers should have premier access to the vaccine before it was available to the masses.) San Francisco Unified and Sweetwater Union High School District have already said they won’t impose mandates.

Police officers, who similarly (and rightly!) lobbied for early access, are now also fighting any requirements that they be vaccinated.

The deputy sheriff’s union in San Francisco said members would quit in large numbers if faced with a vaccine mandate. Public safety workers in Richmond expressed their dismay, among others.

Though unions have always publicly prioritized their workers’ health and safety, they’re now fighting for their right to be unprotected, and to jeopardize the health of the communities they serve.

Do you trust someone to uphold the law who won’t uphold science? Do you trust an educator to put your children first when they are willing to walk into a classroom already having put them second?

San Diego isn’t always a place where forceful leadership shines through. But the city of San Diego, to its absolute credit, is not allowing employees to opt out of vaccines by submitting to weekly testing. The other government entities in the region, and the unions that represent their workers, should follow suit.

What VOSD Learned This Week

A whole lot of Democrats jumped to endorse a longtime Republican-turned-Dem for sheriff. Few would not talk about whether they vetted her in any way, but Rep. Juan Vargas sure did talk.

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For a long time, the city didn’t know where $14 million in its deal to acquire 101 Ash St. went. Well, in a surprise to no one, it mostly went to the company serving as the landlord that until now had declined to open its books.

And because real estate debacles in this town tend to come in multiples … Following a possibly corrupt deal to buy a Mission Valley hotel revealed by VOSD’s Andrew Keatts, the city is exploring changes to the Housing Commission.

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When Cal State San Marcos defended its decision not to fire a professor who harassed students, it cited the long, costly, uncertain process involved. Kayla Jimenez delved in and detailed just what that process entails, and how it might be improved.

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An appellate court ruled San Diego County can keep its COVID-19 outbreak data secret, based solely on Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten saying it should be so. First Amendment experts are troubled by the case.

Speaking of government agencies keeping things secret, the Water Authority won’t say what some of its consulting contracts are for – and in some cases it’s even keeping that information away from its own board of directors.

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Kevin Faulconer’s record on homelessness during his time as mayor is under attack by his GOP rivals. Lisa Halverstadt delved into all of their claims to sort out what’s true. And as the city tries to prevent more people from falling its homelessness, it’s approved more rental relief funds – but the Housing Commission is still having trouble getting the money out.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures of me stabbing people, just to emphasize that I think it’s fine. That’s what we’re trying to litigate here, right? Whether I think my behavior is fine? Not how comfortable anyone else is when I do it, or the effect that I have had on others?” – Boy, that was a strange reaction.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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