Godwin Higa, SDUSD board candidate sits in his home in San Diego, CA. / Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego
Godwin Higa, SDUSD board candidate sits in his home in San Diego, CA. / Brittany Cruz-Fejeran for Voice of San Diego

Godwin Higa, a candidate for SDUSD’s District B board seat, hasn’t run a typical board campaign. He’s only raised $5,000 – nearly $100,000 less than his opponent in the race – and has chosen to spend his time waving campaign signs on the sides of roads in District B’s bounds rather than sending out mailers, hiring consultants or actively pursuing the endorsements of local officials. His grassroots approach is a fitting entry point into the progressive ideals of the longtime educator and former principal, whose implementation of trauma-informed strategies at the last elementary school he oversaw, Cherokee Point, presaged a larger emphasis on such tactics at SDUSD. 

Armed with research about the prevalence of trauma in society and its negative effects on developing brains, Higa advocates for educating parents about those effects, “teaching to the whole child” and the benefits of restorative justice rather than punitive discipline. But even as his ideas have caught on, he’s been frustrated by what he sees as a fizzling out of the commitment to implementing the strategies he’s devoted much of his time in recent years to spreading both in California and Hawaii, where he was born.

But ultimately for Higa, even if he loses he’s content if his message about the power of trauma-informed approaches gets out there.

Read the rest of Jakob McWhinney’s profile on Higa here.

‘Fat Leonard’ on the Lam

Union-Tribune: “The military contractor known as ‘Fat Leonard,’ the mastermind behind the worst public corruption scandal in U.S. Navy history, who was three weeks away from being sentenced in the case, is on the run.” Click here to read the story

For nine years, the story of ‘Fat Leonard’ and his bribes of U.S. Navy officers and others has enthralled military leaders and local observers. He was set to be sentenced almost seven years since his original conviction on conspiracy and bribery charges. But according to the paper, he cut off his ankle bracelet and disappeared. 

His story became a major podcast series that itself became mired in a legal battle

City Setting the Stage to Make Old Central Library a Homeless Shelter

Lines of tents occupied the sidewalks alongisde the old Central Library early Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, as city crews continued work on the building that has been shuttered since 2013. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The city is quietly preparing to turn part of the long-vacant old Central Library into a homeless shelter. 

For nine years, the former downtown library has sat empty. For much of that time, advocates have questioned whether the building often surrounded by homeless camps could become a shelter.  

The city is now setting the stage to make that happen at Mayor Todd Gloria’s direction, our Lisa Halverstadt reports.

Gloria last year directed city officials to assess several city buildings including the old library to see if they could shelter homeless residents. This March, city attorneys filed a court action to try to clear an 1899 deed restriction that previously complicated plans to redevelop the library.

Now Gloria has decided to begin initial work on the building so the city can quickly offer shelter there if it gets a favorable ruling.

Read more here.

In Other Homelessness News: The Downtown San Diego Partnership’s latest monthly census shows a dramatic spike in street homelessness downtown. The business group tallied more than 1,600 people downtown and areas just outside it during its Aug. 25 count. The Partnership took the rare step of issuing a press release about the results released late Friday describing regional efforts to seek state and federal funds to aid unsheltered homeless residents and a city plan to step up outreach downtown later this month, among other planned responses.

  • The Union-Tribune reports that the city’s new downtown library in East Village, for years caught at the center of San Diego’s mental health and homelessness crises, has brought on a social worker to help homeless residents who now make up the majority of patrons visiting the library.

SANDAG Board Members Push Back on Director

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata told state regulators last month that they did not need to worry about the directive from his board that the agency remove its plan to charge drivers for driving from the long-term transportation plan the regulators were then reviewing.

Instead of following their direction to strike the driving fee from then plan, he said, the agency would simply exclude the fee from the next plan it put together, due in 2025.

But now, leadership from the board is pushing back on Ikhrata yet again. Listening to them is not negotiable, wrote the three top officials on the board, including Mayor Todd Gloria, in a letter to Ikhrata last week.

That scoop was in this weekend’s Politics Report, which you can read here if you’re a Voice of San Diego member.

VOSD Podcast World

This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts discuss whatever happened to … that SANDAG driving fee, San Diego’s food waste recycling program and the downtown homeless services hub.

The pair broke down our theme week “Whatever Happened To…” — a look back on stories that were once front page news but have since shirked the public eye.

BTW: If there’s a story you think matches the series, tell us about it here.

Listen to the podcast here.

In Other News

  • The city has announced that it will be implementing its long-awaited vacation rental regulations in May 2023.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill originally introduced by former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that creates a fast food sector council to establish minimum pay and working conditions across the industry.
  • In a Labor Day op-ed, Brigette Browning and Carol Kim took on a fundamental math problem facing the region: San Diego is as unaffordable as anywhere in the country, even though it is less expensive than some other cities, because the wages here are so low. The answer, they argue, is increased union organizing that would combat those low wages, especially in low-wage sectors like tourism and hospitality.
  • The opening of Snapdragon Stadium did not go as planned, and not just because SDSU lost its first game of the season. Fans said there was nowhere to escape the sun, forcing many to leave the game early or seek shade throughout the facility because of the heat wave crushing the region right now. (KPBS)
  • The Union-Tribune broke down how San Diego Unified spent COVID relief money, finding that most of it went to payroll. While $8.2 million went to hiring new teachers, $17.4 million went to substitute teachers and a much larger $122 million went to payroll expenses that the paper said was harder to determine whether it was for direct COVID-19 impact, or combatting subsequent learning loss.

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Scott Lewis, Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafana.

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