The city of San Diego is one of many employers wrestling with hiring woes during the pandemic.
What makes the city’s problem different from local businesses facing the same predicament? The volume of city openings — more than 1,900 positions with standard hours as of earlier this month — and longstanding challenges that further complicate its hiring push.
Our Lisa Halverstadt reports that the city is trying to dig itself out of a hole created by past policy calls, such as a 2012 reform measure that for years halted across-the-board raises and pensions for new workers.
On Tuesday, the City Council voted to approve the city’s first-ever compensation philosophy to guide the city to try to pay its employees more competitive wages in the years to come. Months earlier, Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council also signed off on a budget that includes wage hikes for city employees. Gloria and council members have also pledged to make the city a more competitive employer.
And as Halverstadt writes, the city is taking more focused steps to try to make some of its openings more appealing.
For example, city sanitation drivers can now get sign-on bonuses and the city nixed hourly library assistant positions in favor of part-time positions eligible for city benefits.
101 Ash Lobbyist Fails to Show for Third Deposition
Attorneys in one of the city’s 101 Ash St. lawsuits are headed to court Thursday after a lobbyist working for the city’s landlord failed to appear for a third scheduled deposition.
Lobbyist Chris Wahl, who is serving as a consultant to Cisterra Development’s attorney, had been set to be deposed Tuesday morning until Cisterra attorney Michael Riney revealed he had tested positive for COVID. Riney, who attached a photo of a positive rapid test to a 7:40 a.m. email obtained by Voice of San Diego, told other lawyers the deposition should be postponed.
Attorney Maria Severson, who is representing taxpayer John Gordon in a case challenging the city’s 101 Ash acquisition, replied that the deposition should go on as scheduled — with Riney participating remotely.
But the deposition didn’t happen. Severson and former City Attorney Mike Aguirre are now set to appear before Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil on Thursday to seek an order forcing Wahl to submit to a deposition.
Wahl’s attorney Neal Panish told VOSD his client had been prepared to attend Tuesday until he learned a “necessary party” could not attend. Panish said Wahl has since agreed to three potential deposition dates next week to “so that it may proceed in a safe and prompt manner.”
Riney told VOSD he is also trying to work with other attorneys to reschedule the deposition next week. Riney said he has decided he “needs to be there in-person to protect (his) client’s interest” because Wahl is a consultant engaged by Cisterra.
Tuesday’s missed deposition follows the cancellation of another deposition that had been scheduled for Jan. 6 until Wahl tested positive for COVID and a November deposition that Panish said could not go forward because he was tied up with a trial in Orange County.
Severson and Aguirre have argued that attorneys for Wahl and Cisterra are stringing them along.
“This is the type of game-playing that we need to bring before the judge,” Severson said.
Wohlfeil in late November decided against ordering Wahl to appear for a deposition, but scheduled a follow-up hearing where attorneys could hash out issues if they weren’t resolved.
The Union-Tribune has previously reported that Wahl has met with city officials to try to resolve lawsuits tied to the debacle surrounding the 101 Ash high-rise that the city has sunk more than $60 million into despite it largely sitting empty since the 2017 acquisition.
Must Read: Dispute Between SDSU and Labor Goes Public
In the Politics Report this weekend, we covered the unfolding feud between San Diego State University and the region’s labor movement over the deal they had hammered out for SDSU West, before voters approved it on the 2018 ballot.
The Politics Report is an exclusive member’s benefit, but given the newsworthiness of the dispute, we wanted to make sure all our readers got a chance to see it, so we’ve pulled it out from behind the paywall.
But if you want more details on how San Diego’s political system is unfolding delivered to your inbox every Saturday morning, be sure to become a member by clicking here.
In Other News
- Erin Hogeboom, director of policy and strategy for San Diego for Every Child, argues in a new op-ed that it’s time to make substantial investments to assist working families with child care. “When it comes to child care in San Diego County, the system is crumbling around us,” she writes. Click here to read her argument.
- The Union-Tribune reports that the Metropolitan Transit System has a new team of security officers patrolling its trolleys and bus stations. Halverstadt and VOSD’s Jesse Marx have previously reported on the track record of the transit system’s new security contractor and on a push for reforms to the agency’s enforcement approach.
- County supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to continue to provide foster care services at the San Pasqual Academy. (Times of San Diego)
- Construction of the 2.3-mile Pershing Bikeway project began Tuesday. Following two deaths last year, the separated lanes are intended to provide a safer route for bicyclists and pedestrians traveling through Balboa Park between North Park and downtown. (NBC 7)
- Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila announced that a special prosecutor will investigate the recent deaths of two Tijuana journalists. (Union-Tribune)
- A federal appeals court panel ruled earlier this week that National City police did not use excessive force when they forcibly removed activist and former San Diego mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson from a protest during a City Council meeting, giving officers qualified immunity. (Times of San Diego)
- A San Diego business owner represented by two former city attorneys is suing the National Football League and its team owners over the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles five years ago. (Union-Tribune)
- The San Diego Lunar New Year Festival is back this weekend in City Heights. (Pacific)
This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts.