Kris Michell / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Former city Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell is set to testify under oath next week following a subpoena from attorneys representing the city and allegations by the City Attorney’s Office that she ordered that city records be destroyed.

Attorneys for both the city and former city real estate adviser Jason Hughes are now scheduled to depose Michell on July 21. Attorneys for the city have also requested that Michell provide any documents in her possession related to 101 Ash, Civic Center Plaza and payments Hughes received for his work on city lease deals.

The deposition comes about two months after Elliott’s office accused Michell of ordering the deletion of records about the city’s acquisition and handling of 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza in her final days at City Hall. The letter followed the revelation that Michell had given city documents about 101 Ash to former city real estate chief Cybele Thompson. Thompson arrived at an April deposition with documents that attorneys for Hughes at the time said they had not received in response to their discovery requests of the city.  

Pamela Naughton, an attorney representing Michell, has noted that her client was not working at the city when it acquired 101 Ash St., a building that has sat vacant for all but a few weeks since the city began leasing it in 2017.

101 Ash St. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Naughton declined to address the substance of the allegations raised against Michell on Tuesday, deferring to next week’s deposition.

“She’s fully complied with the law,” Naughton said. “She will appear for the deposition.”

Attorneys for Hughes also separately sent a subpoena to the city late last month for a deposition with a yet-to-be-named official who could provide details on the accusations raised in a May 11 letter to Michell and related city actions. An attorney for city landlord Cisterra Development also issued a request the day after Voice of San Diego broke the news on the letter.

Elliott spokeswoman Leslie Wolf Branscomb told Voice earlier this week that the city is still working to determine who will testify on the city’s behalf and when the deposition will occur.

Catch up on all of our coverage of 101 Ash St. here.

In other 101 Ash St. news… The City Council is for now set to vote on a proposed settlement with its 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza landlord and lenders who backed both lease deals on July 26. Mayor Todd Gloria, who late last month abruptly postponed a planned City Council vote on the controversial deal, promoted a web page with links to various city documents related to the settlement pitch on Tuesday.

On a related note: The Union-Tribune’s Jeff McDonald explained the city’s plan to help finance its buyout of the 101 Ash lease by dipping into cash previously budgeted for street repairs and other projects.

Felony Murder Hearing Rescheduled for Fall

A San Diego case that’s testing the limits of a statewide criminal justice reform was postponed, yet again, on Tuesday.

As Jesse Marx reported in March, Brian Mason has been serving a sentence of life without parole since 2000 for his role in a motel room robbery that ended in a fatality, even though he didn’t pull the trigger. Mason was given a chance to re-open the case and request a lesser sentence after California lawmakers scaled back the definition of a felony murder.

He’s been entitled to this new evidentiary hearing since 2019, but it’ll have to wait another three months. Participants in the courtroom on Tuesday learned that part of the George Bailey Detention Facility, where Mason is being temporarily housed, is in lockdown for a couple days after someone may have tested positive for COVID.

Frustrated by the timeline of the case, attorneys for both the defense and the district attorney offered to reschedule the hearing for Wednesday — so long as Mason could produce a negative test — but the court considered the request “extraordinary.”

Judge David Berry said he appreciated the defense’s “zealous advocacy” to get moving but needed to find another date. Because of scheduling conflicts, the court is now expected to hear the case on October 5. 

In Other News 

  • San Diego officials announced Tuesday the beginning of its “Parks After Dark” program, which aims to transform three parks in the city of San Diego into evening community festivals. The program starts on July 14 and goes through Aug. 27 at recreation centers in City Heights, Linda Vista and Skyline Hills. (KPBS) 
  • The Union-Tribune compiled a list of tips from experts that residents can follow to save a few bucks on their next energy bill. (Need help understanding your bill? Our brilliant environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer put together this handy gas and electric bill breakdown back in March.)  
  • The leader of a big cat sanctuary in Alpine is calling on Mexican authorities to transport more than 200 exotic animals seized in Mexico City to the sanctuary’s care. The animals exhibit signs of malnutrition and have serious injuries, one expert told the Associated Press. (NBC 7, AP) 
  • Voice contributor Kelly Davis chronicled the story of a San Diego man who has been arrested more than 160 times in the last 28 years and offered a window into a justice system ill-suited to help people struggling with addiction and mental health challenges. (The Appeal)
  • City of San Diego data shows arrests don’t follow most non-fatal shootings. (CBS 8)
  • Comic-Con attendees will be required to mask up for next week’s convention. (10 News)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. It was edited by Megan Wood.  

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1 Comment

  1. Hmm. $200 million dollar coverup on the Ash Street scheme, another $150 million taxpayer beating on the illegal Prob. B initiative. No indictments? DeMaio, Faulconer, Goldsmith, Michel, and Sanders are experts at lying and denying, shifting blame, then making counter accusations. Elected Officials never held accountable!

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