The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System recently ended its contract with a company it had signed on to rebuild a dilapidated 70-mile stretch of railroad track between Campo and Plaster City. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

A cross-border project aimed at connecting factories in Baja California to the United States rail system has hit another snag.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System ended its contract with a company responsible for rebuilding a dilapidated stretch of track between Campo and Plaster City. According to the agency, the company stopped making its agreed-upon payments in 2020.

VOSD contributor Sandra Dibble reports that supporters of the project see it as an opportunity for the binational region to generate development and revenue while reducing the costly waits and emissions of trucks stalled at commercial border crossings.

The news isn’t entirely surprising, given its history.

The Desert Line has been in the works for more than a century. Its history stretches back to industrialist John D. Spreckel. It got delayed at various points by Mexican revolutionaries, fires, heavy rains, landslides and lawsuits. All of which earned it the nickname, the “Impossible Railroad.”

The border is opening: Starting today, the ports of entry to the United States will be open to non-citizens who can legally enter if they provide proof of vaccination. The ports of entry have been closed to non-essential travel.

Politics Report

The San Diego Housing Commission’s audit committee isn’t typically hot with breaking news.

But after Housing Commission staff briefed the committee on its annual financial audit, the agency’s chief financial officer made an announcement: She and the commission’s other top financial staffer were both leaving.

Tracey McDermott, the chief financial officer, and Marie Lalas, the director of audit and reporting, had both just attended their last audit committee meeting, McDermott said.

“There has never been any question about the integrity of the accounting, and that is just such a comfort for management,” said Roberta Spoon, the committee chair, thanking McDermott and Lalas for their service. “Of all the issues management has to deal with, finance was never one.”

Win for Republicans in La Mesa: Republicans nationwide celebrated this week with wins in New Jersey and Virginia. But they got a W in San Diego, too, claiming the Council seat in La Mesa. Laura Lothian will take over that seat. Democrats had won a series of races in the east county city.

You’ll find that in the Politics Report by Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts. The weekly politics roundup is available to Voice of San Diego members. Sign up today.

More politics: U-T columnist Michael Smolens writes about how “parents’ rights” are becoming a driving force for GOP politics not just in the Virginia governor’s race but locally. 

Over on the pod: San Diego’s Air Pollution Control District is trying to force industries to lower the amount of toxins they pump into the air and reduce the long-term cancer risk to residents. It’s a bit complicated, so environmental report MacKenzie Elmer joined our weekly podcast to explain. Our hosts also sat down to discuss the history of local nonprofit that claimed to be rescuing victims of human trafficking and even won funds from the county but has been losing supporters among closer scrutiny.

A loss: Greg Block, who served as a spokesman and operative for many San Diego institutions and political leaders, died Saturday. He had been battling Multiple Myeloma for many years. He leaves behind his wife Rachel Laing, a prominent political strategist and lobbyist, and two kids. There were multiple tributes on Twitter, a platform he adapted to earlier than most.

In Other News

The U-T answered some basic questions about the easing of travel restrictions at the border starting today. 

The San Diego City Council voted to extend its negotiating deadline with the Padres over the future of Tailgate Park. The Padres development team will have until Jan. 31. (Union-Tribune) 

CBS 8 spoke to a San Diego resident who attended the Tavis Scott concert Friday night where eight people died and several were injured.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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