historic trees san diego Maggie McCann Kensignton
Power lines along in alley behind in the Kensington neighborhood on Oct. 19, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego’s new government-run power agency thought it had hired a new chief executive officer. Turned out, it hadn’t. 

Cody Hooven, who is beloved by clean power advocates, already serves as the agency’s chief operating officer. And board members for San Diego Community Power (which is a newly-created agency that will act as a middleman between power companies and consumers) had already decided they wanted to hire her. But, because of quirks in a law intended to prevent corruption, a state ethics board ruled they can’t.

State ethics laws say that public officials cannot participate in writing a contract that they will benefit from. This law is intended to prevent situations like a mayor hiring his own cleaning company to clean City Hall, or worse. 

But the state ethics commission in this case took a broad view of the law. Because Hooven helped create the new agency, and thus draft its bylaws, the ethics commission ruled that she essentially helped draw up a contract that would benefit herself. 

A similar case in Los Altos ended with the person in Hooven’s position being hired. That’s because in that case the bylaws for the power agency did not expressly say that a CEO needed to be hired. 

The board now plans to do a national search to find a new CEO pick. 

“I want to ask why the board is wasting its time and money to do a national search for a CEO when it has a perfectly qualified and capable woman among its staff,” one clean power advocate said. 

Read MacKenzie Elmer’s full story here

Mayor Signs Pension Ordinance Restoring Benefits 

Proposition B is donezo.

The voter-approved ballot measure stripped most city of San Diego employees of their pension plans a decade ago (police got a pass) in favor of 401(k)-style retirement accounts, but the courts struck it down. As KPBS reported earlier this week, employees hired between mid-2012 and mid-2021 now have the option of either sticking with their current plan or buying back into the old one.

The City Council, meanwhile, voted unanimously to restore the guaranteed retirement income of thousands of city workers after striking an agreement with some of the unions. Others are still in negotiations. Mayor Todd Gloria signed the ordinance on Wednesday and called the original ballot measure ill-conceived.

The city must now put up money to make those workers whole.

“In the end, this folly billed as a cost-saving measure will cost taxpayers more than $80 million to correct — and in the meantime has made us a far less competitive employer,” Gloria said in a statement. “I’m pleased San Diego is finally putting this public policy failure behind us.”

In Other News

  • A prominent lobbyist who has met with city officials to try to resolve lawsuits tied to the city’s 101 Ash St. debacle sat for a day-long deposition on Wednesday after a three previous dates had to be rescheduled. Maria Severson, who is representing a taxpayer challenging the city’s 101 Ash lease, said Chris Wahl’s deposition will continue on Thursday. A Superior Court judge last week ordered Wahl’s deposition after roughly four months of tussling between attorneys, a scheduling issue and two last-minute COVID cases.
  • The Union-Tribune raised the question of bid-rigging at the county fair. Two former employees of the 22nd District Agricultural Association have testified under oath that the scores for a potentially lucrative contract were changed to benefit a master carnival operator.
  • San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate says 50 people have left the police department since the enactment of a vaccine mandate and another 37 are transitioning to other local agencies.
  • The Union-Tribune reports officials have broken ground on a new neighborhood park in Otay Mesa after 20 years.
  • Sign of the times: the NFL is funding research in San Diego and elsewhere for treating pain and recovery with cannabis. (City News Service)
  • At least three students in San Diego are refusing to wear their masks in class after photos of Gov. Gavin Newsom surfaced unmasked at a football game. Some have taken the protest so far that they’ve been forced out of school. (NBC 7)

Correction: A previous version of this post stated that Chris Wahl failed to appear for three previous scheduled depositions. It has been updated to clarify that a judge last week ordered the deposition to occur this week after Wahl’s deposition was rescheduled three times over four months.

This Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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