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East County says it filed paperwork in court Tuesday to begin the legal wrestling of land from the city of San Diego, land that East County needs to build its own wastewater-to-drinking water recycling project.
The board of the East County Advanced Water Project threatened to use eminent domain — power governments can exercise to take property for its use — against the city of San Diego a few months ago. But it held off to allow negotiations over a new agreement between the two parties.
But those talks haven’t produced results fast enough, says Steve Goble, an El Cajon councilman on the board of the East County water recycling project.
Why that matters: In order for East County to build their project, they need a set of pumps in East Mission Gorge owned by the city of San Diego. But San Diego wants East County to build a new pipeline to re-route all their wastewater byproduct to a treatment plant in Point Loma, instead of dumping it into a regional wastewater system San Diego shares with a bunch of other cities.
But now San Diego is delaying the forging of a new agreement between the two parties, Goble said.
“The longer they take to delay, the worse they’re making the problem of their fear of (the pipeline) not being ready,” said Goble.
Chula Vista Strikes Trash Agreement and Opens Up New Complaint
The Union-Tribune reports that Chula Vista and Republic Services have reached an agreement over costs associated with the trash strike around the holidays. Under the agreement, the city will recoup nearly $107,000 in expenses it incurred to help clean streets, and customers will get a 46 percent rebate on their bills.
Elected officials acknowledged that there’d been a push from residents for a full refund, but they argued that their hands were tied. As Jesse Marx reported in January, Chula Vista gave away some of its best leverage in the contract almost a decade ago. It said the company wasn’t at fault in the face of an “uncontrollable circumstance,” including a strike or work stoppage.
The release of the settlement has led to a new complaint.
As the U-T notes, the City Council in March voted 3-1 behind closed doors (with Jill Galvez in opposition and Steve Padilla absent) to give the city manager permission to reach a settlement on terms they agreed to. Chula Vista and Republic Services came to an agreement on June 9 — two days after the primary election — which was signed by the city manager and city attorney on June 13. The city manager reported the terms of the settlement at a public meeting the next day.
About a week later, attorney John Moot sent the city a letter on behalf of a local resident, alleging that officials had violated the California Brown Act by not properly alerting the public to the settlement on its agendas. Moot ran for city attorney in the June primary and his client, Russ Hall, told the U-T that the public should have been allowed an opportunity to speak on it.
City Attorney Glen Googins said he’s still evaluating the letter but believes officials acted in full compliance with the Brown Act.
San Dieguito Union High School District in ‘High’ Financial Risk
A recent evaluation by a state agency found that San Dieguito Union has multiple financial weaknesses that could leave it vulnerable to internal fraud, the Union-Tribune reports.
The report by the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team, which provides financial and management advice to California’s schools, found that the district is “high risk” in its ability to remain financially sustainable.
One of the main issues they identified was the district’s lack of checks and balances when it comes to managing the budget and payroll. Without proper checks and balances, the district is leaving itself open to potential fraud, the agency said.
The evaluators said that, though the issues are serious, they are easily solvable.
Former superintendent Cheryl James-Ward requested the agency’s evaluation in November. She was fired last month after she made comments indicating that Asian students are academically successful because they have wealthy families.
The district’s interim superintendent, Tina Douglas, told the U-T that they have started working on fixing the issues.
Related: San Dieguito Board Trustee Michael Allman has been a polarizing figure over the past few months as news of internal conflicts between he and James-Ward continue to surface following her termination.
But the U-T reports that controversy has followed Allman since he joined the board in 2020. Parents of the district, colleagues and members of the community either love or hate his leadership style, creating a division in the community that is hard to miss.
In Other News
- A new arena is under construction in Oceanside that will house up to 6,000 sports fans and more for concerts and now it has a new name: It will be called Frontwave Arena after the Sockers, the indoor soccer team, and the management of the arena agreed to a new naming rights deal with Frontwave Credit Union.
- The Union-Tribune documented some concerns among parents that San Diego Unified’s new grading policy is lowering the bar for students across the district. San Diego Unified’s new policy is meant to grade students on what they’ve learned, rather than severely penalizing them for turning in assignments late. Back in December, Will Huntsberry wrote about the future of grading and the theory behind a growing movement of educators who want to eliminate averages, as well as zeroes.
- Mayor Todd Gloria announced Tuesday the creation of the city’s new Office of Immigrant Affairs, a new office that focuses on inclusivity and workforce development for the city’s immigrant population. Gloria named Rita Fernandez as its executive director. Fernandez is currently the mayor’s director of global affairs. (KPBS)
- Disciplinary records released by the Sheriff’s Department thanks to a relatively new state law show that a sergeant who recently retired was under investigation for allegedly making inappropriate sexual and racial remarks. His colleagues once gave him a plaque celebrating the 25 times he’d deployed a stun gun. (Union-Tribune)
- The Union-Tribune also reports that more 230 San Diego police officers left the department last fiscal year. About 93 resigned, 76 retired and 62 are working in other law enforcement agencies. Reasons for officers leaving range from vaccine requirements, according to the police union, staffing challenges, higher pay at other departments and the negative narrative surrounding law enforcement.
The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Will Huntsberry, Jesse Marx, Tigist Layne and Scott Lewis. It was edited by Megan Wood and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.