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A volunteer for the Armed Sevices YMCA San Diego gets ready to give out bags of groceries military families at a food distribution in Murphy Canyon on Oct. 28, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Plenty of San Diego families lack healthy food options.

A growing body of research, though, suggests food insecurity specifically affects members of the military, which has one of the biggest budgets in the United States. 

The reasons vary and both housing and childcare costs play a role. But service members, as Julia Woock reports, face additional barriers that the general population does not, given the nature of military life. 

The families relocate frequently, which makes it harder for spouses to get stable work. The pay the families get, especially for service members with only a few years experience, isn’t structured in a way to support an entire household, according to one group. 

Advocates also point out that military families are effectively prevented from getting food stamps because the housing allowance they get are counted as income when applying for federal subsidies or CalFresh. 

It’s considered an open secret in military circles, but families aren’t always willing to speak publicly on the topic. Some cite a culture of self-reliance. The Armed Services YMCA has seen an increase in families over the pandemic at its biweekly distribution events. 

Click here to read the rest of the story. 

Politics Report: A Busy Week at City Hall

Last week started with Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and his Council colleagues ousting Councilwoman Jen Campbell as the body’s leader. It ended with Mayor Todd Gloria pulling the rug out from under SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata’s two-year campaign to set the region on a course to begin charging drivers for every mile they drove.

It wasn’t, in other words, a tough week for Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts to pull together a Politics Report.

They did learn, though, what committee assignments Elo-Rivera gave his colleagues after taking over as Council president. Councilman Chris Cate, who voted for Campbell last year but supported Elo-Rivera this year, retained his chairmanship of the city’s budget review committee. Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe retained her position leading the public safety committee. Campbell is the only member not leading any committee, though she’s a co-chair of the pandemic recovery committee.

Click here to read the full Politics Report.

In other political(ish) news… The podcast hit the road this week, metaphorically speaking. Hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña take a trip down some of the big stories of the week. They talked about public bathrooms, a proposal to charge drivers per mile and the surprise ousting of Jen Campbell as Council president. 

  • UT columnist Michael Smolens also writes that scientists are researching ways to make cows and livestock in general more environmentally sound to slow climate change. Americans show no sign of giving up on meat and the demand is increasing in developing nations. 

Reports Shed Light on Federal Unit That Targeted Journalists and Others

Yahoo News dropped an incredible story this weekend about a secret unit within U.S. Customs and Border Protection that operates with no rules and used the tools of surveillance to target journalists and their families — as well as congressional staffers — to investigate leakers.

San Diego plays a role in the story, because the agent who once ran the unit now runs a coffee shop in Barrio Logan in his free time. Fliers have started appearing in the mostly Latino neighborhood calling him, among other things, a racist, according to an NBC7 report last month.

He’s been portrayed publicly as a rogue agent of the state, but a U.S. Department of Homeland Security inspector general report — also obtained by AP — suggests that his actions were known and authorized by his supervisor. The border agent was accused of attempting to blackmail a reporter with the goal of planting stories useful to the federal government. Prosecutors declined to press charges. 

There are so many stunning details in the story, but the unit’s very existence is the primary scandal. It was “designed,” Yahoo News reported, “as a bridge between law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community that prided itself on taking ‘out of the box’ approaches.” 

From the vault: NBC 7 reported in 2019 that federal immigration authorities were tracking journalists and immigration advocates through a secret database. The line between domestic law enforcement and intelligence has become increasingly blurred in the post-9/11 era thanks to technology. 

To give just two examples, Jesse Marx reported earlier this year that Chula Vista was creating a real-time crime and that local cops from across the region have access to data-analytics software from a company that got seed money from the CIA’s venture capital fund. 

Elsewhere In the Empire

  • Carlsbad police and a prosecutor bugged a courtroom in Vista to get evidence against defendants in a murder case. The District Attorney defended the tactics as legal but will now be prohibited under a new policy. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The U-T also took a closer look at the conspiracy charges filed recently against a group of anti-fascists. Prosecutors are pointing to black clothing and the sharing/liking of social media posts as evidence that the individuals agreed ahead of time to commit violence at a protest.  
  • A former La Mesa police officer was found not guilty of lying in a police report that stemmed from a controversial arrest of a Black man near a trolley station in 2020. Meanwhile, another San Diego County inmate has died from drinking too much water, the third in a decade. (Union-Tribune) 

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Andrew Keatts.

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