Oceanside City Hall / Photo by Megan Wood

There’s a new twist in the Oceanside treasury saga.

Oceanside Treasury Manager Steve Hodges, who recently accused City Treasurer Victor Roy of several misdeeds, was previously convicted of felony burglary, Voice of San Diego discovered.

As a teen employee at Home Depot, Hodges stole an Oceanside city credit card and used it to steal thousands of dollars from Home Depot as part of a gift card scam.

It also turns out Hodges has rocked the boat at former public agency employers before, and sometimes received hefty settlements upon his departure.

Hodges is the day-to-day overseer of the city’s $500 million investment portfolio. He is still employed by the city, but plans to retire later this year. Roy is under investigation by the city, but Hodges’ complaint that Roy lost the city millions of dollars is more complicated than it seems, as VOSD previously reported.

Read the full story here.

‘Big City Energy’

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced Monday that he has chosen to recommend the Midway Rising team to redevelop the nearly 50 acres of land the city owns on Sports Arena Boulevard. His recommendation is only that. The City Council is hosting a special meeting of its Land Use and Housing Committee Sept. 8 and the full City Council could consider approving the recommendation or something different the next week. Two other teams – Midway Village + and HometownSD – would not advance if the mayor gets his way. 

Has been theirs to lose: Midway Rising got into pole position in this race from the beginning when the team, led by the developer Zephyr and Chelsea Investment Corp., promised to build the most number of homes where rents will be restricted to remain affordable to families with lower incomes. The city staff immediately pushed the Zephyr and Chelsea led team as the preferred option with the other two available only if the numbers didn’t add up. 

Because the city must follow the state’s newly modified Surplus Lands Act, it had to prioritize the bidder that could deliver the most affordable housing. But they also prioritized building a new arena and rivals questioned whether Zephyr could deliver the number of affordable units promised. And, if it could deliver those homes without cannibalizing city housing funds that would deliver units elsewhere. 

The City Council hired a firm, JLL, to analyze their promises and the mayor’s announcement would indicate JLL signed off on the team’s plans. Though they have not released the analysis and promise to by Aug. 26. 

“This project represents big city energy and I look forward to getting this done for the Midway community and our city,” Gloria wrote in a prepared press release. 

Notes: Midway Rising promises the largest arena of the three. Also, the plan would be illegal right now. In the 1970s, voters passed a 30-foot height limit on construction west of Interstate 5. Voters approved an exemption in 2020 for the Midway area but a lawsuit successfully threw that out. Now, voters will again consider the issue as Measure C on the November ballot. The mayor and his allies want the development team solidified in September so that it can help fund the campaign to approve Measure C. 

The Art of Political Consulting 

The Union-Tribune reported over the weekend that Jesus Cardenas, chief of staff to San Diego Councilman Stephen Whittburn, runs a political consulting business on the side.

Cardenas earns more than $10,000 a month working for the city and $100,000 from the business, Grassroots Resources Corp, according to the U-T. 

Cardenas told the paper that there is no conflict between his work for the city and the private business, saying he no longer manages operations, seeks clients or is engaged in the day-to-day activities. He added that he has turned to the city’s ethics commission for advice. The office has not produced a formal written opinion. 

Cardenas’ sister Andrea Cardenas, a Chula Vista councilwoman, was also questioned about her involvement in the business. The U-T reported that she lists herself as a salaried employee at the consulting firm who earns between $10,001 and $100,000. We asked her back in June about how she balances her work and setting policy on the council.

Here’s what she said then: “It’s simple: There are boundaries,” she said. “Really, for me, if it’s anything that’s going to compromise my values and my path, I just don’t touch it. It’s very simple, my job is community organizations, and communications, and really talking a lot more with folks about how to engage not only people of color and immigrants and Spanish-speaking folks and young people, and when that is at the helm of what I’m doing, there is no conflict of interest.”

Border Report: A Reflection on the Vehicle Fires in Baja California 

On Friday, Aug. 12, criminals set fire to vehicles in Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate and Rosarito Beach. The organized fires instilled fear among residents, stirred up a political firestorm and forced people to question, who is really in charge?

Voice of San Diego contributor Sandra Dibble reflects on the aftermath in the latest Border Report. The battle for control of the Tijuana plaza, on a major drug route to the U.S., has been playing out for decades, she writes, but the orchestrated burning of vehicles that took place earlier this month was something unseen in the region. 

Dibble writes that more than a week later, while sitting at her favorite coffee shop in Tijuana, she watched as life returned to normal. But there are many questions that linger from the events: Why were the fires set, what message were they meant to send, and more importantly, what’s to prevent this from happening again? 

Read Dibble’s latest Border Report here. 

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Scott Lewis and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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