San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

City Attorney Mara Elliott accused Council President Sean Elo-Rivera of trying to silence her Monday, and said the expectations he and other council members expressed for her office had never been applied to her predecessors, who were all men.

The lengthy exchange between the elected officials occurred during Monday’s City Council meeting, after the Council approved a settlement of a lawsuit the city brought against Jim Neil, the broker who was hired to help the Housing Commission purchase hotels for homeless housing, but who made a large financial investment in the corporate owner of a hotel before helping the city buy the same hotel.

Last month, Elliott’s office issued a press release announcing that it had agreed to settle the lawsuit with Neil and Kidder Matthews, his employer. The deal would bring about $1 million back to the city and Housing Commission, covering commissions he had collected in excess of the maximum amount stipulated by his contract, and the city’s legal fees.

Elo-Rivera said during the meeting that he hoped in the future the city attorney’s office would inform the Council about any settlement it agrees to before announcing the settlement publicly. He said it put the Council in a tough spot, left to approve or reject a deal that had already been touted to the public.

Elliott rejected the premise.

“What I’m hearing you say is that I can’t speak to the public without permission from the City Council… I find that the rules that have been applied to me have been very different than any of my predecessors. And I’ll note for the record, I’m the first woman to hold this position. And if I want to say something, I’m going to say something. If there is a privilege that I have to respect, I will speak with the council, but the public expects to hear from me, and I will not be silenced,” Elliott said.

Click here for more on the heated exchange over a settlement of a conflict of interest case we broke last year.

Environment Report: A Drought Conversation with California’s Natural Resources Secretary

A view of the Colorado River as it flows through northern Arizona / Image via Shutterstock

As the battle ground heats up over the Colorado River, one of California’s main drinking and agricultural water sources, Voice of San Diego’s MacKenzie Elmer talked with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Secretary of Natural Resources about the high stakes and what’s the Golden State is doing to help preserve the drought-stressed water body. 

Newsom recently relit a fire under a 2020 plan to accelerate water recycling projects and help build desalination plants to secure more water supplies that don’t come straight from the snowcaps of the Rocky Mountains. The governor dropped it right before the federal government shied-away from telling Western states how to curtail use of the river. 

Crowfoot says a part of that plan might be employing new, customized water budgets at urban water agencies and whether San Diego, in light of its secure supplies, should be doing more to help out.

Read the Environment Report here. 

In Other News

  • The Rosecrans Shelter, a new 150-bed homeless shelter, opened Monday in the Midway District. The shelter also provides meals, showers, laundry facilities, storage and more. Access to behavioral and psychiatric services, including mental health professionals and addiction resources are also available. (NBC 7)
  • SANDAG accepted a $300 million grant last week to put toward its plan to move the train tracks from the Del Mar bluffs and into an underground tunnel. The bluffs have been gradually eroding over the past several years, creating an urgent need for the tracks to be moved. Work on a final design for the project is expected to begin in 2026, with construction beginning in 2028 and wrapping up in 2035. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego has a new chief operating officer. That role now goes to Eric K. Dargan, who is replacing interim COO Jay Goldstone. (KPBS)
  • The Chula Vista City Council will discuss banning flavored tabaco at today’s evening meeting. If it passes, Chula Vista will join four other cities and the county in banning the products. (KPBS)
  • The San Diego State University police chief, Mike Hastings, is retiring from his role amid recent controversy about how the university handled a reported off-campus gang rape that allegedly involved university football players. It was not immediately clear if his retirement is linked to the controversy. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, MacKenzie Elmer and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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2 Comments

  1. “Work on a final design for the project is expected to begin in 2026”
    WHY so long?? is this an emergency or not??
    anyone wanna bet there WILL be a bluff collapse affecting the tracks before then??

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