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Morning Report: Convention Center Chaos

The San Diego Convention Center / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The future of a proposed November hotel-tax measure aimed at bankrolling a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs is in the City Council’s hands today.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s team on Wednesday rushed to save the effort after the city clerk announced that a state-required random sample process had revealed the labor and business coalition’s months-long signature gathering campaign hadn’t crossed the threshold to quickly be placed on the ballot. Tomorrow is the deadline to make the November ballot.

Now Faulconer, who had made the measure his top priority, is asking the City Council to vote to place a nearly identical city measure on the November ballot instead, as our Lisa Halverstadt and Scott Lewis describe in a breakdown of Wednesday’s events.

City Council President Myrtle Cole quickly called a special 4 p.m. City Council meeting and the mayor’s office scrambled to check in with City Council members who had been scheduled to be on summer recess.

The Yes for a Better San Diego, backed by powerful business and labor groups, had earlier this year introduced the citizens’ initiative hoping to avoid a required two-thirds vote to increase hotel taxes. Wednesday’s news ensures the measure will need that broad support.

Politics Around the County

  • National City Mayor Ron Morrison is termed out of his current role, but he pulled papers to run for the City Council, reports Robert Moreno of the Star News. Morrison’s previous attempt to repeal term limits for the mayor’s seat was defeated in the June primary election.
  • El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho is suing his former attorney. The U-T reports that Kalasho was recently ordered to pay $40,000 in legal fees to a plaintiff who accused him of fraud and defamation in connection to a Miss Middle East USA beauty pageant. Kalasho’s former attorney said he acted professionally and was presented with an unwinnable case.
  • Del Mar voters will decide in November whether beachfront properties should be limited in size. Rick Thompson, a video game investor who proposed the changes, said the initiative will provide fair and consistent rules on development benefiting everyone. Some residents complain Thompson’s real intention is to control the size of the property to be built on a vacant lot next to his own home. (Union-Tribune)
  • Nathan Fletcher, a Democrat running for county supervisor, is outraising and outspending his opponent, former DA Bonnie Dumanis, since the June 5 primary. Contributions are coming from current and former politicians in San Diego and from around the state. (inewsource)
  • Chula Vista’s director of finance says Measure P, a half-cent sales tax passed in 2016, will generate about $10 million more than expected over a 10-year period. In the meantime, the City Council has waded into the legal feud between the Airport Authority and the Port of San Diego, offering to assist the Port in court if necessary. The Airport joined a lawsuit aiming to stop a fee on car rentals that’s supposed to fund a parking garage along the city’s bayfront. (Union-Tribune / NBC7)
  • A citizen committee that was meant to provide financial oversight of the San Ysidro School District got approved two years ago, but has yet to come together. (Union-Tribune)

Sizing Up Vista High’s Big Experiment, One Year in

When we talked to Vista High school leaders last year about the school’s extraordinary experiment with personalized learning, an innovative approach to teaching, officials there were excited, but acknowledged there was a lot to sort out.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” said Craig Gastauer, a former science teacher at Vista who now leads the training and professional development for the school’s teachers. “How do we put all of this together?”

Pacific Standard magazine delved into how the school year went for Vista under the new program, in which the freshman class was split into smaller groups, and courses were integrated across subjects, “so students can see how a skill they learned in one subject, like math, is useful in other subjects,” as VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan explained.

What they found: The school saw a big uptick in attendance, “giving Vista officials sufficient evidence that their approach could work on a larger scale.” Bonds between teachers and students grew stronger too. There were some frustrations as well – from gripes about classroom design to the fact that the close-knit groups meant students who fought had no escape from one another.

Social Media Goodies

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate and Maria Cate introduced their newborn baby girl, Madison Rose, to the world on Twitter and thanked staff at Scripps Health and Rady Children’s. “Our family is home & healthy, & we couldn’t be happier & in love,” Chris Cate wrote.

In Other News

  • The U-T reports that the San Diego City Council grudgingly agreed to spend $30 million to renovate a vacant office building that’s already costing $18,000 a day.
  • Members of the public should get a chance to weigh in before law enforcement uses surveillance technology in their communities, VOSD contributor Seth Hall argues in a new op-ed.
  • Portland auditors say their city isn’t enforcing its short-term vacation rental regulations because it doesn’t have the necessary data. Some of Portland’s rules are similar to ones recently greenlighted in San Diego. Hosts, for instance, must be the primary resident of the rental. (The Oregonian)
  • A jury ruled that San Diego Unified was negligent in failing to stop the sexual abuse of a student and must pay $2.1 million in damages. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego Border Patrol chief denied that his agency is turning away asylum-seekers and said he takes those allegations very seriously. Yet a reporter claims to have witnessed such an incident. (KQED)

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Jesse Marx.

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