101 Ash St. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

Nearly two years ago, the city’s 101 Ash St. scandal metastasized with the revelation that a former city real estate adviser known publicly as a volunteer was paid $9.4 million by the city’s 101 Ash landlord for his work on two city lease deals.

Now the City Council has called a special meeting at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday to vote on a proposed settlement requiring commercial real estate guru Jason Hughes to pay the city $9.4 million in exchange for an end to two civil conflict-of-interest cases filed by the city.

Our Lisa Halverstadt reports that the proposed settlement followed orders from Superior Court judges overseeing civil and criminal cases surrounding the debacle. A spokesman for District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office, which has an ongoing criminal investigation surrounding the matter, said Stephan’s office will have more information to share on the investigation following the Wednesday City Council vote.

City Attorney Mara Elliott, Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera issued statements cheering the expected $9.4 million deal while Hughes’ attorney declined to comment.

Elliott’s office previously described the city’s case against Hughes as a textbook conflict-of-interest case while Hughes’ legal team has argued he is not covered by state conflict-of-interest law and emphasized that he told multiple city officials he wanted to be paid by someone other than the city for his work on the city deals. The city and Hughes had been set to go to trial in late April.

Read the full story here.

Balboa Park Orgs Pushing Back on Possible Safe Camp

View of parking lot at Balboa Park's Inspiration Point on Feb. 3, 2023.
View of parking lot at Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point on Feb. 3, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The city is eyeing an often-forgotten parking lot in Balboa Park as a potential campsite for unsheltered residents as part of an initiative to crack down on homeless camps elsewhere in the city.

While the city has yet to officially settle on Inspiration Point or any other location, our Lisa Halverstadt reports that Balboa Park institutions have expressed their displeasure.

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, made up of about 25 park institutions, recently informed City Councilman Stephen Whitburn – who represents the park and has championed the two-pronged initiative – that they oppose a potential safe camp at Inspiration Point.

Whitburn, meanwhile, says he’d fight to ensure that the safe camp respects its surroundings if the city proceeds with the project there. If the city does move forward, Mayor Todd Gloria’s chief of staff says the city expects to set up 200 to 300 camp sites rather than also set up a large tent shelter that Whitburn also once envisioned.

As the city assesses its options, some who support the safe campground concept are pushing back amid the likelihood that the proposed ordinance that will sharply limit the locations where unhoused people can set up camp will proceed first.

Read the full story here. 

For more details on Whitburn and Gloria’s broader proposal to crack down on homeless camps, read Halverstadt’s recent coverage.

The rate of deaths inside San Diego County jails outpace all other counties in the state. A trove of documents that could shed light on the deaths are currently under seal in a courthouse. They can’t be viewed by the public. 

Voice has joined a legal action – along with the San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 News and Prison Legal News – to unseal the documents, which could expose the practices that have led to an unusually high death rate in San Diego jails. 

The documents surfaced, or almost surfaced, as part of a lawsuit against the county by a man who was badly injured inside a local jail. Frankie Greer was prone to seizures and prescribed medicine to help control them. But local deputies did not give Greer his medicine and placed him in a top bunk, Greer says. Greer had a seizure and fell from his place on the top bunk. Greer now has trouble with speech, memory and cognitive function. 

Greer sued. As part of his suit, his attorneys requested access to multiple reports about previous jail deaths. Greer’s attorneys eventually got access to those documents, but only under seal. Then Greer settled his lawsuit for nearly $8 million, as the Union-Tribune reported. The documents remain under seal today. 

The legal action by Voice and the other media outlets seeks to make the documents available to the public. 

In Other News 

  • San Diego State University will play number one seated Alabama on Friday in the NCAA tournament. Derek Togerson argues that the magic number that will determine the outcome of the game is 70. Togerson laid out some convincing stats that showed State may have a good chance to beat Alabama if they can hold the team to less than 70 points. (NBC 7)
  • The rain may seem heavy, but it’s not the heaviest. This is the eleventh rainiest winter on record in San Diego. The region has experienced 45 days of rain, but in the winter of 1951-52 rain fell on 53 different days. (National Weather Service)
  • A Mexican logistics company operating in San Diego was ordered to pay $1 million in backwages. The company was allegedly paying some Mexican workers in its U.S.-based warehouses as little as $3.24 an hour. (U-T)

Correction: A section in the Tuesday, March 21 Morning Report, “Maienschein Launches City Attorney Run,” incorrectly stated that San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott endorsed Heather Ferbert, a chief deputy in her office. Elliott has not endorsed a candidate in the 2024 race for her seat. Click here to view the updated post. 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Will Huntsberry. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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1 Comment

  1. Voice of San Diego Joins Legal Action to Unseal Documents Related to Jail Deaths

    The Medical Examiner recently rule a jail death a murder because the inmate died of starvation. Has anyone been charged in that death? Is the Sheriff ever going to be held accountable for killing people in her jails?

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