101 Ash St. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Back in May, the City Attorney’s Office delivered a bombshell letter alleging that the city’s former chief operating officer ordered city Information Technology Department staff to delete 101 Ash St. records.

Yet the city’s top IT official testified under oath last week that he couldn’t confirm that his staff had been ordered to purge records, according to a draft transcript obtained by Voice of San Diego.

Our Lisa Halverstadt reports that Jonathan Behnke, the city’s chief information officer, said instead that he believes former top city bureaucrat Kris Michell’s request that her assistant have her city-issued cell phone wiped as she prepared to depart City Hall in 2020 inspired the letter.

City Attorney Mara Elliott argued this week that Behnke’s testimony didn’t refute her office’s essential allegation that Michell purged records and said her office’s specific allegation about the order to IT staff was based on a San Diego police briefing that Behnke wasn’t in on.

Michell testified under oath in July that she didn’t order IT to erase anything and handed over her phone with a suggestion to reset it so it could be reused by another city worker. She also acknowledged that she had ordered some draft copies of outside law firms analyses of the 101 Ash St. debacle to be shredded to minimize clutter and confusion.

As Halverstadt has previously reported, Michell also revealed that she leaked one of those purportedly confidential analyses of the Ash deal to Cory Briggs, Elliott’s legal nemesis and then opponent in the city attorney’s race, as she considered becoming a whistleblower.

Read the story here.

San Diego Is Exploring Guaranteed Income Programs. Here’s How They Work 

Khea Pollard, director of San Diego for Every Child, moderated an Aug. 25 panel about the Black Women’s Resiliency Project. / Photo by Jesse Marx

Advocates in San Diego are piloting a new kind of assistance that gives 150 families living in impoverished zip codes a monthly benefit to use on whatever they want.

If you paid attention to the 2020 presidential election, chances are you heard talk of universal basic income. This program is different. It’s known as guaranteed income, focused on getting $500 into the hands of select households every month on the belief that they know best how to use it.

In his Fine City column, Jesse Marx explains how it all works and how it’s expanding to include more and more communities.

The first pilot got off the ground in the spring under the sponsorship of Jewish Family Service and just last week the County Board of Supervisors set aside $7.5 million in federal stimulus funds for a second. A third program, focused specifically on the economic security of Black women, is also in the works.

The goal of the pilots is two-fold: to make welfare, which is often invasive and humiliating, governed by strict rules, more accessible and to compile data showing how a little material support can improve the wellbeing of a home.

There are now dozens of similar programs being tested across the United States. But whether such programs will ever be brought to any significant scale by governments remains an open question.

Read the column in its entirety here.

More Weird and Dangerous Weather Headed for San Diego

San Diego weather forecasters are keeping close track of a hurricane making its way northward from the Baja California peninsula toward southern California.

By Friday the edge of the tropical cyclone called Hurricane Kay will clip just west of Ensenada, then weaken by veering further west into the Pacific Ocean over the weekend. But that won’t spare San Diego from more extreme weather.

The National Weather Service predicts strong winds for southern California and the southwestern edge of Arizona Friday. Peak wind gusts of up to 50 miles an hour could hit the coastline with speeds reaching up to 85 miles per hour near Alpine. 

Greater San Diego could get up to a half-inch of rain while the mountain areas stretching into the desert could see anywhere from one to even five inches of rain. That’s particularly dangerous for those desert areas as such intense rains over a short period tend to produce flash floods. Flood watches are in effect through Saturday evening in San Diego County valleys through San Bernardino and Riverside County. San Diego County has free sandbags for residents in unincorporated areas to help protect property from potential flooding

While it didn’t make landfall, the tropical cyclone called Hurricane Kay brought 100 mile-an-hour winds to Cabo San Lucas on Wednesday. Around this same time in 2015, Hurricane Linda swept the coast of Baja California and brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to southern California with some mountain-areas experiencing quarter-size hail. 

In Other News 

  • A San Diego City Council committee approved Thursday the mayor’s selection of a team for the redevelopment of 50 acres surrounding the Sports Arena, but CBS 8 reported earlier in the day that the developer behind the proposal has been the subject of a series of lawsuits that it did not disclose when asked within the city’s formal bidding process.
  • A nursing home in EL Cajon has racked up 628 overall complaints since 2019, including three of sexual assualt that were substantiated by the California Department of Public Health, yet continues to operate. Overall, that’s four times the state average for a facility of its size, and advocates for nursing home reform tell KPBS that the Avocado Post Acute nursing home is an unsafe place for residents.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx, MacKenzie Elmer and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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