The editor and publisher of the Union-Tribune, Jeff Light, announced Thursday to staff that he was leaving the paper this week as the company undergoes a dramatic downsizing.
Catch up: Billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family sold the U-T to MediaNews Group, owned by Alden Global Capital. The new owners noted that reductions would be necessary in a note to employees last week.
Light became editor in 2010 when the Copley family sold the U-T to Platinum Equity. He then survived three other ownership changes before this one. MediaNews Group has not announced publicly how many employees it plans to cut from the newspaper but voluntary buyouts continued through Thursday.
The U-T published its own story Thursday on Light’s departure and was also unable to nail down what may be coming next. The paper reported that Friday will be the last day for about a dozen staffers but noted that “still more will leave later, although company officials would not say how many.”
More Names: Immigration and border reporter Kate Morrissey announced she had taken the buyout. Times of San Diego reported that features writer John Wilkens and Merrie Monteagudo, the paper’s “last remaining librarian” are also leaving.
Related: As our Scott Lewis recently wrote, Light believed he could build a bridge to long-term viability for the paper with the support of now-former U-T owner Soon-Shiong. Now both are out and the paper’s future is unclear.
Camping Ban Coming to Poway Next Month
Earlier this week, the Poway City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance banning overnight camping and personal property storage within city limits.
Refresher: The ordinance, which will go into effect in mid-August, was championed by Councilman Brian Pepin after he was approached by parents concerned about people and vehicles gathering on Pomerado Road. In January, the latest point-in-time count revealed a total of two unsheltered residents living in the city. The ordinance requires unsheltered people to either accept shelter or move within 24 hours to avoid being cited by law enforcement.
The Catch: Kathryn Gray reported last month that Poway’s ordinance can only be enforced if a shelter bed is available. There are currently no shelters in Poway.
The city partners with Alliance for Regional Solutions, a group of nonprofits in North County, that run a shelter network. But those beds are hard to come by.
Still, city officials describe the ordinance as a tool to protect public space.
Also in Poway: KPBS reports that a longtime resident was appointed to serve the remainder of a resigning councilman’s District 2 seat.
San Diego Pursues Second Phase of Public Power Study
The city of San Diego plans to continue studying whether it should try and take over its electric grid, despite vocal pushback from union workers.
Multiple labor union leaders called municipalization or a public takeover of the city’s electric grid “union busting” at Thursday’s City Council Environment Committee meeting. In response, Councilman Joe La Cava and chair of the committee told old union workers that he wouldn’t be interested in pursuing a full public power takeover unless the city could replicate the jobs, wages and benefits offered by SDG&E. (SDG&E employs 1,500 union workers.)
In the first phase of the study, the city’s consultant concluded San Diegans could save money if it created a publicly-owned power grid. The study’s second phase, slated to be completed by summer of 2025, would develop a plan for municipalization should the city choose to pursue that route at the end of its 10-year contract with SDG&E, which began in 2021. At that point, the city council has a chance to vote on whether it wants to renew the contract for another decade.
Committee members stressed that they also weren’t interested in creating a new city department to house the potential public electric distribution system, citing past issues with billing at the city’s water department. The consultant would instead look at what it would take to create a special district or another entity that’s “removed from city politics,” according to Mike Bell with BB&A, a utilities and transportation consultant hired for the study.
The committee didn’t need to take any vote to start the next phase of the public power study. As part of the franchise agreement, the city put money aside to fund these studies.
San Diego Congressional Reps Implore Blinken to View Border Sewage
Some of San Diego’s Congressional reps called on the secretary of state to visit a broken sewage plant at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Thursday’s letter to Anthony Blinken from San Diego’s Democratic representatives says the state of the plant jeopardizes a treaty made with Mexico to fix infrastructure on both sides of the border.
The IBWC recently revealed the plant needs around $150 million worth of repairs and is sending polluted water into the Pacific Ocean. That news came as a shock to Rep. Scott Peters and others who have since been calling on President Joe Biden to declare the situation a federal emergency.
The State Department controls the budget of the International Boundary and Water Commission, or IBWC, which owns and operates the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment plant. But Congress is trying to find other ways, like a proposal to the nation’s military spending bill, to find funding.
They also asked Blinken to investigate how the plant fell into such a state of disrepair.
In Other News
- Are you being forced to move or at imminent risk of losing your housing? Voice of San Diego intern Kathryn Gray wants to hear from you about the choices you are being faced with as you look for a new home.
- The Union-Tribune reports that the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday voted to move forward with the police department’s smart streetlight initiative. The plan now heads to the full City Council. Related: The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to hold off on reviewing the city’s surveillance technology for three years. The Union-Tribune reports that more than 300 tools that fall under the city’s new surveillance law and need evaluation.
- San Diego will host the National Women’s Soccer League Championship in November, KPBS reports.
- CBS 8 reveals that San Diego police are using K9s more often during arrests and that they are more frequently released on Black and Latino suspects.
- A new city ambulance deal is expected to give the city an extra $5 million annually to improve services, The Union-Tribune reports.
- The Union-Tribune reports on those illegal Comic-Con building wraps, why owners are still wrapping up anyway and where you can find them.
- City News Service reports that a new audit found that the city’s hiring process is fueling city staff vacancies.
- Don’t get stung: NBC 7 San Diego explains how to do the stingray shuffle.
The Morning Report was written by Scott Lewis, Lisa Halverstadt, Kathryn Gray and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.