After more than a decade of sky-high deaths in San Diego County jails, Attorney General Rob Bonta said Saturday that he’s not yet ready to pursue legal remedies.
First, Bonta said, he wanted to give newly-elected Sheriff Kelly Martinez the opportunity to fix the problem. Bonta shared this during Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2023 live podcast recording. Watch the full interview here.
Bonta said he was aware of the issue and that he’d recently had a meeting with Martinez to talk about the “disturbing number of in-custody deaths.” At that meeting, Bonta said Martinez assured him she was working to solve the problem. But, Bonta continued, if death rates in San Diego jails don’t come down, he could pursue multiple legal remedies.
Officials for the Sheriff’s Department also say they’ve taken numerous steps to decrease the striking number of deaths. But the Sheriff’s Department isn’t the only entity working to change the grim situation. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed multiple bills authored by San Diego lawmakers aimed at tamping down jail deaths.
Port Board Moves to Censure Commissioner Sandy Naranjo
Port of San Diego Commissioners voted Tuesday to censure Vice Chair Commissioner Sandy Naranjo. And after much deliberation, they also voted to release the findings of an investigation into the allegations against Naranjo today.
Naranjo, an environmental justice advocate, was appointed to the board by National City. She will remain a commissioner, but will no longer hold a leadership position on the board.
The Port board hired an outside attorney, Sonia Carvalho of Best Best & Krieger, to investigate allegations over the commissioner’s behavior. A report prepared for by the firm’s attorney’s alleges that Naranjo “retaliated” against an employee whose job it was to collect financial disclosure information.
At the meeting, Board Chair Rafael Castellanos described his reactions to the findings as a feeling of shock and outrage over the “egregiousness of the conduct.”
Naranjo’s supporters filled the port’s meeting room to demand transparency over the allegations and investigation. National City residents defended her character and dedication to their community.
National City also weighed in: Councilman Jose Rodriguez requested that the board give the City Council time to review the findings at its Thursday closed session.
Mayor Celebrates Guv’s Signature on Conservatorship Bill
Mayor Todd Gloria cheered Gov. Gavin Newsom’s early Tuesday signing of legislation that will make more Californians eligible for forced behavioral health treatment.
Senate Bill 43 expands the definition of grave disability and allows mandated care for people with severe substance use disorders.
The most significant impact: Luke Bergmann, the county’s behavioral health services director, told Voice of San Diego he doesn’t expect a dramatic wave of long-term substance use disorder-related conservatorships under SB 43.
Bergmann said he does expect more temporary holds instigated by law enforcement, which would mean more people struggling with addiction end up in emergency rooms. Bergmann sees those holds for evaluation which can last up to 72 hours to present opportunities to connect those people with care – if the system can deliver it.
San Diego Unified May Soon Pay Student Board Members
Amidst a flurry of legislative signings and vetoes, Gov. Gavin Newsom greenlit a bill that allows local education agencies to pay student board members.
The bill, introduced by San Diego Assemblyman Chris Ward, amends California’s education code to allow school districts to compensate elected student board members financially, with course credit or both.
San Diego Unified board member Richard Barrera said hopes the change will bring more equity to the position and allow students who hadn’t considered running to do so.
What’s next: The law goes into effect at the beginning of next year, but it doesn’t instantly make the student board member position a paid one. Educational organizations have to approve the change. Barrera said he expects Superintendent Lamont Jackson to bring the issue up for a vote in the coming months and is confident it will pass.
Song of the Week
When I press play on a Nite Lapse song, I instantly feel transported to a world of dark sunglasses and neon-lit nights. The band’s slick, chromed out blend of funk, pop and R&B is as smooth as it is seductive. It’s a sound that, like the band, which hails from both Tijuana and Chula Vista, seems to thrive in a sort of cosmic borderland that, despite its allure, carries an aura of danger.
Nite Lapse, “Nonchalant”: Nite Lapse’s 2022 single, “Nonchalant,” makes good on its name. It’s an effortless and delicate display of groove that feels impossible not to move to. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Martinez’s hushed falsetto floats above the bouncing bass and precise guitar stabs like smoke.
Like what you hear? Catch Nite Lapse at Soda Bar on Friday.
Do you have a “Song of the Week” suggestion? Shoot us an email and a sentence or two about why you’ve been bumping this song lately. Friendly reminder: all songs should be by local artists!
In Other News
- County supervisors voted Tuesday to deploy $3 million to aid organizations responding to a local surge in asylum-seekers. (CBS 8)
- Odor sensors will soon be installed near the Tijuana River Valley to monitor sewage-related air pollution. (CBS 8)
- San Diego County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer, who originally planned to retire in March, will stay in the position as the Board of Supervisors restarts a search for her replacement. (Union-Tribune)
- Following the death of Senator Dianne Feinstein, former All Star Padres first baseman Steve Garvey has launched a bid for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. (Orange County Register)
- San Diego officials have begun to craft laws regulating the storage and disposal of lithium-ion batteries due to safety concerns. (Union-Tribune)
- UC San Diego has signed a preliminary purchase agreement to buy Alvarado Hospital. (Union-Tribune)
- The union that represents San Diego’s deputy city attorneys has come out in opposition to proposed changes to the City Attorney position. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Lisa Halverstadt and Hannah Ramirez. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.