The Chula Vista City Council
A meeting of the Chula Vista City Council / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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Chula Vista spent nearly $16,000 last year investigating a complaint by Councilman John McCann against Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. McCann accused the mayor of discrimination and harassment because she called him a “gringo” during a brief conversation at a local restaurant. 

The city turned to an outside law firm to find out if the use of the word violated the city’s equal employment opportunity policy. 

But, as Julia Woock reports, the investigation concluded it didn’t. 

“Here the use of the word ‘Gringo’ on one occasion in this informal setting and to describe a person’s attribute of not being able to eat spicy food does not rise to the level of unreasonably interfering with someone’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, as required to find a violation of law,” according to the investigation. 

The probe set the city back $15,838.50. It’s a small amount for a city, but one Council member felt McCann’s request was a waste of tax dollars. McCann told Woock that he felt the investigation was appropriate and fair. 

This isn’t the first time McCann has been at the center of a complaint involving his fellow elected officials. Shortly after the law frim completed the report, several of the Councilmembers, including Salas, made an accusation against him for misuse of public funds, Woock writes. 

Read Woock’s full story here. 

New Superintendent Will Have to Wait

Christopher Rice-Wilson, the chair of a committee advising San Diego Unified on its new superintendent, announced Friday that the selection process and all related public events are on pause for the month of January. 

One of those events on Monday, the Union-Tribune noted, would have allowed the public to meet and ask questions of the two superintendent finalists. The State of the District Address was also scheduled for Thursday but it’s being postponed. 

“Dealing with this current COVID-19 surge should be the number one priority of school and district staff,” Rice-Wilson said in a statement. “There is no need to rush this search process and endanger our school community and stakeholders.”

The district’s Board of Education had been expected to pick a replacement this week for Cindy Marten, who was appointed to the No. 2 spot at the U.S. Department of Education. Locally, the two finalists are current interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson and Susan Enfield, superintendent at Highline Public Schools near Seattle.

Father Joe’s Villages Paul Mirabile Center shelter at its St. Vincent de Paul campus in East Village. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

More COVID Cases at City Shelters

Nearly 50 residents at city-funded shelters tested positive for coronavirus during the latest round of testing last week. 

The Housing Commission confirmed Friday that 25 people tested positive at Alpha Project shelters, 22 at Father Joe’s shelters and two at PATH’s downtown shelter. 

The positive results came a week after homeless service providers and Housing Commission officials scrambled to isolate 50 shelter residents who tested positive just before New Year’s Eve. As our Lisa Halverstadt reported last week, a shortage of county-backed hotel rooms set up for isolation purposes led providers to house homeless residents who had tested positive in party tents.

The county last week added 40 hotel rooms and spokespeople for the Housing Commission and county said late Friday that 17 shelter residents who tested positive or were exposed had moved into county hotel rooms. That was up from just two as of last Wednesday morning. Others who tested positive last week were isolating in the tents that Alpha Project and Father Joe’s have turned into isolation spaces. 

A county spokeswoman said the county hoped to move more people who had tested positive into hotels in coming days.

Politics Report: Who Will Replace Lorena Gonzalez?

Lorena Gonzalez stepped down as a member of the state assembly last week and that’s left us with a lot of questions about who might replace her, and what that race will look like. 

In the latest Politics Report, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts highlight some important observations about the two people who have announced that they will be running for the seat — former Councilmembers Georgette Gómez and David Alvarez.  

Lewis and Keatts write that the race will be fascinating, because of their personal history, and to see how each of them builds a campaign to revive their political careers.

Read the Politics Report here. The weekly politics roundup is available to Voice of San Diego members. Support our work here

More politics … Over on the podcast, our hosts Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña review how local public services — schools, hospitals and governments — are fairing under the wrath of omicron. They also talked about the Assembly District 80 race, where two former San Diego City Councilmembers and well-known allies are competing to replace Gonzalez. 

In Other News

  • A former sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting a man in the back who escaped from a patrol car downtown. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego’s annual pension payment has fallen by nearly $31 million and reduced the city’s pension debt to below $3 billion because of strong investment returns primarily in the stock market. (Union-Tribune)
  • KPBS reported over the weekend that there are some 1,100 city of San Diego workers requesting to be exempt from the city’s vaccine mandate. About 525 of those requests are from San Diego Police officers.
  • The Chula Vista City Council plans to discuss the ongoing trash strike that’s impacting businesses and homes on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Mayor Mary Casillas Salas expressed frustration over the strike on social media. She mentioned that trash collectors deserve a fair contract. (Fox 5)

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Lisa Halverstadt and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

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