The San Diego Union-Tribune building in downtown San Diego on July 10, 2023.
The San Diego Union-Tribune building in downtown San Diego on July 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in a city replete with rich people, promised the San Diego Union-Tribune stability when he purchased the paper along with the LA Times. 

Here’s the promise: He would help the 150-year-old newspaper build a bridge over the looming fiscal cliff many news organizations face created by declining ad revenue and the need to transition to an online model. 

But despite adoptive father Soon-Shiong’s assurances that the U-T wouldn’t end up an ignored stepchild, that’s precisely what seemed to happen, writes Scott Lewis in a new column. 

Soon-Shiong presided over significant new hires at the LA Times, while rarely mentioning its sibling to the south. He just didn’t seem to care about our provincial Southern California hamlet.

Catch up: On Monday, news broke that he sold the U-T to a media conglomerate feared by journalists nationwide for its sharp scissors and its propensity to use them to cut newsrooms to the bone. So much for stability, and so much for a bridge. And what’s more, the cliff is still looming.

Read Lewis’ column here. 

National City’s ‘Most Ambitious’ Budget Ruffled Some Feathers

The entrance of National City Hall on Dec. 1.
The entrance of National City Hall on Dec. 1, 2022. / Photo by Gabriel Schneider

At a press conference Wednesday, National City leaders gathered to promote the city’s recently passed 2024 budget, which is heavily focused on public safety and community improvements. 

Why now: The city’s management has been going through a lot. It parted ways with its city manager in May. Then last month the longtime employee picked to fill the role passed away. 

Key investments include:

  • $498,037 to hire two police officers and two dispatchers
  • $139,313 to hire three new firefighters which will ensure that at least one fire engine is fully staffed at all times
  • $175,000 to increase affordable after school programming
  • $330,000 to support councilmembers (this is split by council offices) 

Councilman Jose Rodriguez who championed the budget said it’s the most ambitious in years. The budget vote was split, though, with a 3-2 vote. 

Awkward moments: Not everyone in attendance on Wednesday was on board, most notably Mayor Ron Morrison. His issue? The $330,000 allocated to council members. He said councilmembers, who work part-time, should not be given the same budget as the mayor or vice mayor.

“It is not transparent enough,” Morrison said. “Where is this money really going? This part of the budget is the poison pill.”

Councilman Rodriguez disagreed. He described the budget as historic and one that will help improve life for National City residents. Additional funds for councilmembers to hire staff that can focus on policy and community outreach, he said, is key to making this happen.

“We’re moving forward in spite of the mayor,” Rodriguez said. “Everything we present to him is always a ‘no.’”

In Other News 

  • Carlsbad’s decision to take up a flag policy has incited a culture war debate about which flags should be allowed to fly at city hall. The city council punted the issue, leaving Pride flags as the sole commemorative flag authorized to hang. (ABC 10)
  • Assemblyman David Alvarez celebrated the passage of a law that exempts land Chula Vista has saved for a potential university from the Surplus Land Act.
  • A draft of a La Mesa ordinance would require guns to be disabled or stored in locked safe when not carried by the authorized owner. (City News Service)

The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney and Kathryn Gray. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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