Construction of San Diego State University's Aztec Stadium in Mission Valley is underway. / Photo by Noelani Sapla, The Daily Aztec

San Diego labor leaders escalated their public campaign against San Diego State University on Wednesday with a press conference downtown.

They contend that SDSU President Adele de la Torre has reneged on a promise in 2018 to preserve union jobs at the Mission Valley stadium and to create new union jobs on the construction side. Voters authorized the sale of property to the university that same year as part of Measure G.

Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts laid out the dispute in our latest Politics Report, noting that it was spilling into city government. San Diego officials have been unwilling to finalize the sale of a couple acres of land left over from the university’s purchase last year.

At the press conference Wednesday, labor leaders and workers outlined their sense of betrayal, calling on SDSU to put its past commitments in writing and on the California State University to make good on them.

“I’m personally so deeply disappointed that this has not come to fruition, that instead we’re facing a situation that sees the same old people who have always profited from and enriched themselves off the public’s resources while leaving large swaths of our communities struggling to survive in an increasingly unaffordable region,” said Carol Kim, business manager at the San Diego Building & Construction Trades Council.

In a statement, the university said the labor leaders were mischaracterizing its plans, commitments and integrity: “Our promises remain unchanged. We have already awarded $450 million in subcontracts on the stadium and site construction, of which 96% have gone to union subcontractors.” The university also said it offered dozens of former employees of the previous stadium the “opportunity to work in the highest paid positions in the suites, clubs and full bars at all events in the stadium.”

Part of the dispute rests on concessions and culinary work. Brigette Browning, the executive secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, has accused the university of rebuffing her demands that extend not only to the new stadium but all the kitchen and related work.

Jack McGrory, a CSU trustee and the architect behind Measure G, the land sale and current development, previously told us that he and the university want a portion of the jobs to remain open to students trying to work their way through school.

Binational Hip-Hop Group Tulengua Looks to Blockchain for Economic Freedom

Tulengua / Photo courtesy of Tulengua

Tulengua is a hip-hop group with roots in San Diego and Tijuana. 

The group “has been anything but predictable,” writes Roberto Camacho. “Tulengua’s music features live instrumentation and sampling from a variety of genres such as hip-hop, psychedelic, progressive rock, soul, Spanish-language music and even obscure movie soundtracks. Their lyrics are bilingual and often carry a strong social commentary by regularly touching on topics of immigration, racism and the struggles of undocumented immigrants.”

Now the group is pushing its experimentation into realms beyond music. Rather than making money simply through album sales or concerts, the group wants to turn itself into a digitally tradable asset by utilizing blockchain technology. Fans would essentially be able to invest in the band, by buying tokens which could then be traded or resold. 

Read the full story here. 

Supes Back Zoning Tweaks to Facilitate More County-Funded Shelter Options

County supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved zoning changes that will allow the county to pursue a broader array of homeless shelter options in unincorporated areas and lessen the bureaucratic red tape needed to move forward.

The new county-backed projects could include safe parking lots where homeless people living in vehicles can stay, safe camping sites, day centers and other facilities — services that the county has not traditionally backed.

The Wednesday vote follows direction from supervisors that county officials identify locations and propose new services. The county has since gathered input from residents in multiple East County communities. County officials are expected to return to supervisors with more details on potential locations and services in coming weeks.

  • The Union-Tribune reports that the Vista City Council on Tuesday voted to have city staff explore possible sites for a safe parking or camp site and to proceed with a request for proposals for a city-funded homeless shelter. We previously rounded up details on multiple shelter concepts being eyed by cities across the county.

Feds Get Closer to Locating Cross-Border Sewage Clog

Sewage from Tijuana is still flowing into the U.S. untreated since officials first noticed a problem with the cross-border wastewater system on Jan. 7, but officials are getting closer to figuring out what’s gone wrong. 

The International Boundary and Water Commission — or IBWC, a binational agency that works on border water treaties — is checking a new portion of the system on the U.S. side for a potential blockage that’s causing water to back up and spill into the Tijuana River watershed. Something might be clogging the system between a previously troubled border valve and the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Diego. 

“Additional investigations are underway to determine if there are any other obstructions in the 96-inch pipeline,” the IBWC wrote in an update released Wednesday. 

The IBWC didn’t find anything clogging that border valve, according to the report. And, Mexican officials from the state of Baja California’s water department reportedly found no clog or obstruction in their system.

Finding a clog in a binational sewer system is a process of elimination, officials have said. 

Maria-Elena Giner, the newly-appointed head of IBWC, said engineers from both sides of the border are working together to address the emergency.

“I commend them for implementing some short-term measures while we come up with a plan for a longer-term solution,” Giner wrote in a statement Monday. 

IBWC also suspected sewage escaped a rupture in a Mexican pipe called the International Collector, which officials there had previously denied. Both the U.S. and Mexican sections of the IBWC determined sewage had been overflowing from a “deteriorated” portion of that pipe, according to Monday’s statement. 

Meanwhile at least half of the 25 million gallons of raw sewage from Tijuana per day that should be reaching the treatment plant before discharge to the Pacific Ocean is bypassing that system and spilling into the river untreated. IBWC is trying to pump some of that water from a border drain (where that water isn’t supposed to go) back through the treatment plant in the meantime. 

In Other News

  • The Union-Tribune reports that Republic Services is the target of a federal class-action lawsuit in the wake of the recent sanitation strike. It accuses the company of breaching its contract and unjustly enriching itself after collecting fees but not picking up trash. In the meantime, some residents in Carlsbad are lobbying officials to back out of a new contract with the company, citing the labor dispute.
  • We’re a little biased, but this Reader article about the post-pandemic press — “where self-publishing and sponsorships, experts and advertisers, and journalists and citizens are birthing new forms of reportage” — is interesting. It takes stock of the incentives and pressures that local print media, in particular, are facing.
  • Two county supervisors say Sheriff’s Department applications have decreased 36 percent between 2018 and 2021 and 25 percent during the past year. They’ve asked county staff to come back with recommendations to stop potential shortages.
  • Santa Ana winds are expected to blast Escondido and Alpine between now and Saturday. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Chula Vista City Council earlier this week rejected a proposed 120-bed psychiatric facility in Eastlake. (CBS 8)

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Will Huntsberry, Lisa Halverstadt and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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