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Morning Report: Chula Vista PD Officers Spent Work Time on Private Fundraiser

The Chula Vista Police Department. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

The Chula Vista Police Department has acknowledged it has a difficult time responding quickly to life-and-death emergencies – but department officials apparently had no trouble spending many hours of the business day, over a period of months, planning for a private police fundraising gala, VOSD’s Ry Rivard reports.

Police Chief Roxana Kennedy and other top police traded emails during the first half of 2018 over seating arrangements, printing brochures, renting sound equipment, arranging rides and selecting an event host. The city paid out $10,526 in overtime to officers who worked the gala on June 30.

Kennedy and the others also spent considerable time emailing wealthy individuals and private companies seeking donations. Some of those companies, including developer Baldwin & Sons, have business with the city.

Thousands of pages of emails obtained by Voice of San Diego reveal that officials considered how their influence and sway might help maximize donations.

Kennedy suggested in one email that between herself, the mayor and the city’s economic development director, they ought to be able to “get some traction” with Baldwin & Sons.

Baldwin & Sons went on to donate $2,500 to the police foundation, a $1,000 increase from their donation the previous year.

In an opinion piece for the Union-Tribune in May, Kennedy lamented Chula Vista’s understaffed police department and noted “officers are so busy responding to crimes that they have little time to proactively prevent them.”

Other non-profit police foundations, dedicated to raising money, often have their own staff. Chula Vista’s foundation does not, but is reportedly now considering hiring its own paid staff.

The Real History of the Newest Political Football, Migrant Caravans

Migrant caravans may be one of the newest weapons in President Donald Trump’s culture war arsenal, but they have actually existed as a means of travel for Central American migrants for close to 10 years.

The caravans started as a way for Central American mothers, whose sons died traveling north, to draw attention to the dangers of the journey. Others began to join caravans as a way to stay safe from rape, extortion and other criminal activity along the way.

The size of caravans has increased in recent years for several reasons: Hondurans, and other Central Americans, face increasingly desperate circumstances in their home countries and apps like Facebook and WhatsApp have made organizing easier, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan reports.

Even though the current caravan is the largest yet, only a fraction of those who begin the journey north make it to the U.S. border. Many stay in Mexico along the way.

Though immigration occupies a large place in the spotlight, overall immigration appears to be down. Apprehension levels, which officials use as a proxy for overall immigration, at the U.S. border are historically low.

Stadium Talk

It wouldn’t be a San Diego election without a major decision on a sports stadium of some kind.

If you’re still undecided between the two options on this year’s ballot — Measure E and Measure G — we’ve just posted the video from our debate on the options from Politifest earlier this month.

Measure E is the SoccerCity initiative, which would let a private company redevelop the former Chargers stadium property into a dense urban area situated around a river park and a new stadium for a Major League Soccer team. Measure G is the SDSU West initiative, which would let the city sell the land to SDSU to build a river park and a new football stadium, and accomodate a university expansion in the future. The debate also featured urban designer Howard Blackson, arguing to vote no on both measures.

City Councilman Scott Sherman argues in a new op-ed that one of the architects behind Measure G can’t be trusted to properly handle the deal. Sherman, who supports Measure E, writes that as San Diego city manager in the 1990s Jack McGrory helped underfund pensions and took part in an embarrassing deal for the city to buy up to 60,000 unbought Chargers tickets each game day.   

The Culture Report Is Back

After a brief break, the Culture Report is back in action, with local writer Julia Dixon Evans at the helm. Appropriately, she’s been featured in a past Culture Report.

Evans digs in to a major arts grant for UCSD and tackles an obvious question: Where do arts fit in at a science-centric institution?

UCSD’s arts and humanities dean says they can teach each other a lot: “The arts and humanities have a lot to offer the sciences. We need more humanists.”

And in a separate op-ed, writer and “artivista” Igor Goldkind makes an argument that’s being trumpeted more and more in San Diego: Without affordable spaces for artists to make and sell their work, San Diego won’t be the kind of major arts destination the way cities like New York and Los Angeles are.

New City Power Agency Seems Likely

From Ry Rivard: San Diego Gas & Electric, the city’s longtime energy provider, sent a breakup letter of sorts to the city on Monday, the surest sign yet city officials will try to compete with the company by forming their own government-run agency to buy and sell power.

For several years, the city has been studying whether to form a “community choice aggregator,” or CCA. These mini-utilities buy and sell power to customers, but SDG&E still owns and operates the power lines.

The city seems likely to announce soon that it will form its CCA, joining other local governments across California who have their own.

In the letter, SDG&E’s vice president of energy supply Kendall Helm said “we will be your partner to empower that” choice, which SDG&E and its parent company have previously fought. Though the letter is positive, it amounts to SDG&E saying “it’s not me, it’s you; but let’s be friends” to a long-time partner by asserting that the city sought terms from the company that the company could not meet.

What’s next? Mayor Kevin Faulconer may soon announce his intentions to form a CCA, a policy the City Council will then vote on.

Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president for government affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.

Council Declares Its Support for Supportive Housing

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted to back a resolution to support at least 140 new supportive housing units for homeless San Diegans in each the city’s nine Council districts by 2021. As Lisa Halverstadt has reported, getting such projects to the finish line isn’t easy. City Councilman Chris Ward, who pushed the resolution, hopes it will encourage new supportive housing projects meant to serve the most vulnerable homeless San Diegans go up citywide.

Here’s How to Stop the Campaign Mail Deluge

We’re in the stretch of the run-up to Election Day where you essentially can’t escape politics. There are radio and TV ads, debates and messages flooding social media and an endless barrage of campaign mailers.

There’s a way to slow the flood to a trickle, though, as Randy Dotinga reports: Just vote already.

Once you cast a ballot, the flood should become a trickle, at least outside the world of social media,” Dotinga writes. Campaigns get updated lists of who’s voted, and because they don’t want to waste money, they stop sending out mail to people they can no longer win over.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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