101 Ash St.
101 Ash St. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

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The city’s former real estate chief recently testified under oath that she directly asked the city’s 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza landlord at least twice if the company was paying the city’s purportedly volunteer real estate adviser.

On two occasions, ex-city real estate director Cybele Thompson recalled during an April 28 deposition, Cisterra principal Jason Wood said no.

As it turns out, Cisterra would years later admit that it paid Hughes $9.4 million for his work on the city’s 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza lease-to-own deals.

In a new story, our Lisa Halverstadt details Thompson’s recollections of her conversations with Cisterra, why she never confronted Hughes with the same question and more.

A spokesman for Cisterra disputed Thompson’s recollection, saying Wood never told anyone at the city that then-city adviser Jason Hughes wasn’t being paid.

Read more about Thompson’s deposition here.

City Attorney’s Office Still Waiting to Hear from Ex-COO

City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office says former Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell has yet to formally respond to its May 11 letter accusing the ex-city bureaucrat of directing the city’s Information Technology Department to purge records tied to 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza before her abrupt resignation.

Elliott’s office said late Monday Michell had not reached out despite its request for the city’s former top unelected official to contact the City Attorney’s Office by Monday to “begin the process of identifying and recovering all city records.”

It’s unclear what steps the City Attorney’s Office will take next, but lawyers opposing the city in lawsuits tied to its 101 Ash and Civic Center deals are eager to pounce.

Attorney Michael Riney, who represents city landlord Cisterra Development, on Friday formally sought a deposition with “the person most knowledgeable” about the accusations and city actions surrounding Michell’s alleged order to delete phone and computer records. Riney has also requested related records.

And attorney Michael Attanasio, who is representing the ex-“volunteer” city real estate adviser Cisterra paid millions for work two city leases, told Voice he plans to subpoena Michell to sit for a deposition.

Michell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Chula Vista City Council Is Set to Consider Ban on Evictions 

Following in the footsteps of their neighbors to the north, the Chula Vista City Council is set to consider a ban on evictions at today’s meeting. 

Up for consideration are two options to address no-fault evictions. Such evictions are those related to when a property owner wants to remove a unit from the rental market for a variety of reasons not related to non-payment.

Option one is a permanent ordinance and option two is an emergency ordinance that would stay in effect until Sept. 30, and give city staff time to continue working toward a more permanent solution. 

Tenant protection groups have been outspoken about the need for such protections, but landlords, especially people with a handful of rental properties, are concerned the proposed rules go too far and will make it impossible for them to continue renting their properties. 

Watch the meeting here today at 5 p.m. 

Judge Rules Atkins’ Bill Requiring Women on Corporate Boards Is Illegal

State Sen. Toni Atkins speaks at a press conference / Photo by Megan Wood

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled last week a 2018 state law, authored by San Diego-based State Senate leader Toni Atkins, that required corporate boards to have three female representatives this year was unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause, as the Associated Press reported Monday.

That ruling wasn’t entirely surprising; former Gov. Jerry Brown, when he signed the bill in fall 2018, signaled this could be its fate. “There have been numerous objections to this bill, and serious legal concerns have been raised,” he said, as reported by the LA Times. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. — and beyond — make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.” He signed the bill while Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was before the full Senate.

Those questions, though, didn’t halt early progress on the issue in the state after its passage. As Sara Libby reported for us in 2020, more than a dozen San Diego companies added women to their board in the year since the law went into effect. 

In Other News 

  • The pandemic policy that reduced certain misdemeanor offenses to zero bail throughout the San Diego County jail system has ended as of Sunday. The zero-bail policy was meant to reduce the overall jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said the change will likely increase population numbers in county jails. (CBS 8)
  • The Commission on Police Practices, San Diego’s police oversight commission, sent a memo to the San Diego Police Department with several recommendations including changes to the department’s discipline process and body-worn camera protocols. The commission reviews investigations into complaints against officers, shootings by police officers and deaths of people in-custody.(Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego Humane Society is extending its promotion to waive adoption fees for small animals and adult dogs seven months and older through Thursday. (NBC-7)
  • The San Diego District Attorney’s Office dropped murder charges against Jane Dorotik 22 years after a Vista jury had convicted her of killing her husband near their Valley Center home. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Andrew Keatts, Andrea Lopez-Villafana and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Megan Wood. 

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