File photo of San Diego City Hall / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

Jesus Cardenas, chief of staff to San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, has left the job, following a scandal surrounding his political consulting firm.

His last day was Monday, Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx confirmed.

While working on the city’s payroll, Cardenas was also continuing to run a political consulting firm, which many saw as a conflict of interest. Whitburn publicly gave Cardenas an ultimatum to shut down the consulting firm or stay with City Hall. 

“I made the decision to step down from my position in order to pursue new opportunities,” Cardenas said in a text. “Given the recent political climate, I want to put all of my energy and effort into electing Democrats and supporting issues that uplift our community and address the complex challenges facing our region.” 

Read more about Cardenas’ resignation here.

North County’s Only Sobering Center Is No More

Unhoused people staying in front of vacated Oceanside Sobering Services Center on March 14, 2023.
Unhoused people staying in front of vacated Oceanside Sobering Services Center on March 14, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A sobering center in Oceanside failed after just two years. The city says it was underutilized, but other factors may have led to its closure.

In December 2020, Oceanside opened a Sobering Services Center to provide a place for inebriated people, most of them homeless, to sober up and receive counseling and referrals to other services.

It was the first of its kind in North County and the second in San Diego County.

In a region that is in desperate need of sobering centers and detox beds, the center was a step in the right direction. But less than two years after it opened, the city said it was underutilized and decided to shut it down.

Though the center did have low client numbers, Tigist Layne reports that it had some limitations that may have contributed to its underutilization.

Read the full story here.

County Supes Haven’t Decided How to Fill Fletcher’s Seat Yet

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who was accused in a lawsuit last week of sexual harassment and assault, didn’t attend Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, but his presence hung over the entire proceeding. 

Fletcher has said he would resign effective May 15, but many at Tuesday’s meeting said that wasn’t good enough. Countless commenters wanted him off the payroll immediately, as did Supervisor Jim Desmond, who called for his immediate resignation  in a video posted by KUSI. 

Fletcher — since leading the county’s response to Covid-19 — has been the subject of much ire from anti-vaxxers. Many of them gloated over his downfall Tuesday, but continued to focus on his pro-vaccine and liberal politics as the real problem.

A commenter at Tuesday’s meeting called on Fletcher to resign immediately.

Chairwoman Nora Vargas has said she and her colleagues will wait until May 2 to decide how to fill Fletcher’s seat, which encompasses much of the central part of the county. 

Supervisor Joel Anderson, a Republican, has indicated he’s leaning toward a special election. Anderson said his constituents don’t like it when someone else decides what’s best for them and he assumes Fletcher’s constituents feel the same. 

With Fletcher the board is split 2-2 between Republicans and Democrats. As KPBS reported, while Democrats enjoy a strong majority in Fletcher’s district, Republicans tend to overperform in low-turnout special elections. 

The board could appoint a new replacement to fill Fletcher’s seat (which would require Republicans and Democrats to agree to a compromise candidate,) or hold a special election. It could also combine those two approaches and appoint someone to fill the seat until a special election could be held. 

Lost in the fracas: the county’s 2022 military equipment report, a disclosure intended to shed light on the transfer of military weapons to the local agencies, a historically secretive process. 

San Diego County agencies already have used military equipment such as armored personnel vehicles, .50 caliber rifles, sound cannons, and a chemical agent launching platform. The report says the sheriff also plans to purchase more drones that can fly indoors, a “legged robot,” and more. The supes approved the report on consent without any discussion. 

Not lost in the fracas: The board authorized the procurement of a Live Well on Wheels vehicle to support homeless outreach activities across the county, and gave staff the authority to seek more funding for mobile homeless outreach services. 

  • Supervisors also voted unanimously to allow now-retired Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to serve as interim county CAO for 180 days to help maintain stability at the county while the search for a new top county bureaucrat continues. Vargas said Tuesday that the search for Robbins-Meyer’s replacement will conclude soon.

In Other News 

  • The Union-Tribune reports that the CEO of quasi-governmental nonprofit San Diego Workforce Partnership will depart the agency following a civil lawsuit and amid an ongoing county investigation following discrimination allegations.
  • City News Service reports that the city will receive a $1.2 million settlement after suing a company it alleged overcharged for portable shower trailers at the Convention Center shelter.
  • Local, state and federal officials on Tuesday cheered the completion of the long-awaited Mission Bay Drive bridge replacement, 10 News reports.
  • The Union-Tribune reveals that county school enrollment fell again this year, but the drop wasn’t as dramatic as it was the first two years of the pandemic.
  • County health officials issued a warning Tuesday that clients, volunteers and staff at Father Joe’s Villages programs including its inclement weather shelter, Neil Good Day Center and health center may have been exposed to tuberculosis between mid-January and early March.

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Will Huntsberry, Lisa Halverstadt and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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