Pacific Beach before tropical storm Hilary makes landfall on Aug. 20, 2023.
Pacific Beach before tropical storm Hilary makes landfall on Aug. 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Tropical Storm Hilary hit San Diego Sunday afternoon.

It caused power outages in North and East cities of the county, flooded roads (we saw this in the usual flood-prone areas), dropped trees and more.

Delayed the first day of school, sort of: San Diego Unified School District delayed the first day of school. Superintendent Lamont Jackson announced that school would start Tuesday. San Diego State University moved to online classes on Monday. (KPBS) ABC 10 News has a full list of the schools that will be closed here.

  • Rare lack of unanimity: Chula Vista Elementary School District announced that it still planned on opening its schools today. “Our families rely heavily on our schools to provide a safe place for students during the work day, therefore we are committed to stay open as long as conditions allow,” district officials wrote in a statement.

Officials declared emergencies: Gov. Gavin Newsom was in town to meet with emergency response officials. Newsom issued a State of Emergency on Saturday. The county also declared an emergency. (KPBS)

One man’s story: Our Lisa Halverstadt was in communication over the weekend with Vic, a 61-year-old unsheltered man who stays in La Jolla. He helped move people staying at the city of San Diego’s safe campsite. She shared his story on Twitter.

Palomar Health Is On A Mission

Palomar Health in Escondido on Oct. 25, 2022.

A couple of months ago, we wrote about Palomar Health’s poor financial performance during its last fiscal year. Now, Palomar’s top staff are responding … kind of. 

The healthcare district, which operates Palomar Medical Centers in Escondido and Poway, took a financial dip in 2023 – a $33 million dip, to be exact.

Palomar has repeatedly declined or ignored our requests for comment.

Its top staff, though, are talking to other news outlets and sending messages to their employees and stakeholders assuring them that Palomar is “in pretty good shape.”

Some background: In the 2023 fiscal year, Palomar Health saw its operations income drop from roughly $42 million in 2022 to $9 million in 2023, according to a June budget report. It also has more than $700 million in outstanding debt. And after paying interest on its revenue bonds, that $9 million in operating income dropped to -$1.3 million.

FYI: Operating income is the difference between a hospital’s total operating revenue and its total operating expenses. 

Palomar’s cash reserves also took a hit. The district’s total cash on hand dropped by about $70 million from 2022 to 2023, according to the report.

Their response: Palomar’s CEO Diane Hansen gave media interviews to the Union-Tribune and the Escondido Times-Advocate since our last story. She also sent a video message to Palomar’s employees that Voice obtained.

Hansen has repeatedly said our article was false and misleading, but admitted to news outlets that Palomar did take a financial dip last year, as seen in its financial reports.

She maintains, though, that Palomar is financially healthy and will see its best financial year ever in 2024 – despite widespread financial declines of hospitals across the U.S.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente just opened its $400 million hospital next door to Palomar’s Escondido campus.

Read the full story here.

Politics Report: The Making of a Leftist Out of Monica Montgomery Steppe

San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe and her mom Patricia Montgomery in the El Cerrito neighborhood on Aug. 15, 2023.

Montgomery Steppe crushed her rivals in the primary race for the county supervisor seat vacated by Nathan Fletcher. If you’re a newcomer to local politics, you may assume that she was a very liberal, union-aligned Democrat, writes our Scott Lewis.

“That’s just not what we have seen the last several years since voters ousted her predecessor on the San Diego City Council. We’ve written at length about how most unions opposed her back then,” Lewis writes.

In the latest Politics Report, he details Montgomery Steppe’s political history.

Read the Politics Report here.

VOSD Podcast: This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Jakob McWhinney and reporter Tigist Layne discuss the county supervisor race. They get into what we might expect as two camps (Montgomery Steppe and Republican Amy Reichert) face off in a heavily Democratic district. Listen to the full episode here.

Want to catch us live? Your favorite podcast crew is going to record at North Park’s Original 40 Brewing on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Our podcast hosts will dish on local politics, chisme and more. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. 

Click here to purchase your ticket.

In Other News 

  • As of 3:20 p.m. Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated San Diego could get anywhere from two to six inches of rain over a five-day period from Hurricane Hilary. The desert and mountain areas would see the most: Four to six inches. (NBC 7)
  • The “Coyote” wildfire near Potrero that broke out Thursday afternoon injured one firefighter as it began to spread, forcing evacuations in the southeastern part of the county. It was only 10 percent contained as of Friday morning. (LA Times)
  • A U.S. Marine died during live-fire training Thursday night at Camp Pendleton. (Fox 5 San Diego)
  • Imperial Beach would lose its lone post office as the U.S. Postal Service plans to move operations to Chula Vista next month. The City Council denounced the move and “will fight it every step of the way,” according to Mayor Paloma Aguirre. (Union-Tribune)

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

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