Morning Report: Council Prez Race Reviving Some 2018 Tensions

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Morning Report: Council Prez Race Reviving Some 2018 Tensions

Councilwomen Jen Campbell and Monica Montgomery at the San Diego City Council inauguration ceremony in 2018. / Photos by Adriana Heldiz

Programming note: The Morning Report will be back in your inbox on Monday, Nov. 30.

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On Thursday afternoon, Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe told us the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council had endorsed her bid for Council president. Delegates for the group supported her overwhelmingly, with roughly 75 percent voting for her. But by Friday afternoon, there was no public announcement of the vote, and when we reached out to a Labor Council spokesperson for confirmation, she declined to confirm the endorsement.

Then, Saturday morning, after our Politics Report published describing the discrepancy, the Labor Council released a brief statement affirming that its delegates had, indeed, voted to endorse Montgomery Steppe.

Now, we know a bit more about what was happening behind the scenes.

Keith Maddox, the Labor Council’s executive secretary-treasurer, sent an email to the group’s executive board Friday afternoon, suggesting the vote might not have followed the organization’s policies and procedures. Those concerns were apparently alleviated by Saturday morning.

But for an organization that didn’t support Montgomery Steppe’s Council bid in the first place, despite her overwhelming community support against an unpopular incumbent, the procedural dispute has some delegates remembering that 2018 experience.

“As a member of the Labor Council, they have not examined what happened in 2018, and they haven’t learned from their lesson,” said Tamika Cook, a Labor Council delegate and party and labor activist. “They need to listen to the community.”

“There clearly is a split between leadership and the rank and file,” said Shane Parmely, another delegate who shared on Facebook their dissatisfaction with the council’s reticence to accept the vote.

Andrew Keatts reveals the behind-the-scenes dynamic playing out in the very public race to be the next Council president. 

Another Agency Wrestles With a Weighted Voting Structure

A rural water manager is calling for changes to how voting at San Diego County Water Authority goes down

Even though the city of San Diego’s own budget managers said they didn’t want to pay for a $5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River, its appointed Water Authority board members voted to push the costly and decades-long project a step further toward fruition. 

Gary Arant, general manager and representative of Valley Center Municipal Water District, says big cities like San Diego shouldn’t get to carry so much weight in crucial votes that could have a major impact on smaller budgets like his. 

“My concern is with them having that much voting power, you get worried about what happens down the road if it comes time to allocate the costs,” Arant said.

He proposed using a system once in play at the San Diego Association of Governments, before a state law change in 2017. Under that system, in order for a decision to pass, both a vote weighted in favor of big city populations and a subsequent vote by just the singular board members themselves would have to swing the same way. 

But the chair of the Water Authority said a change like that would take legislation.

Why Prop. 16 Failed

California voters rejected Proposition 16 earlier this month, with 57 percent of the vote opposed. The statewide ballot measure would have allowed for racial preferences in government hiring and college admissions, and it had the support of Assemblywomen Shirley Weber, its lead proponent, and Lorena Gonzalez, who dedicated resources to it.

Although there’s widespread support for more diversity in education, contracting and public employment, most voters were unwilling to take this step.

A new post-election survey, the Los Angeles Times reports, shows deep skepticism toward affirmative action in White, Latino and Asian communities as well as tepid support among younger Black residents — all of which doomed Prop. 16. 

City Considers New Cannabis Proposal

San Diego is considering a proposal to create a cannabis “business improvement district” that would tax legal dispensaries and pool the money for marketing, lobbying and the development of a social equity program that aims at bringing more people of color into the industry.

The Union-Tribune reports that there’s a free rider problem in the pot industry: Individual businesses tend to fight for changes that benefit everyone, but at their own financial cost. 

City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, who helped launch a new city Office on Race and Equity and who’s running for Council president, said she’d like the cannabis social equity program to become part of a wider city effort to boost equity.

COVID-19 Cases Increase Across County

Coronavirus cases are continuing to rise in San Diego county. Public health officials reported 1,546 new positive cases Tuesday, a new single-day record high. Officials also reported 15 new community outbreaks.

In case you missed it, a local court ruled last week against VOSD, KPBS and the Union-Tribune in a lawsuit seeking epidemiological reports that would reveal the locations of COVID-19 outbreaks. Read all about that here

Related:

    • San Diego County residents who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 can apply for up to $3,000 in rental assistance starting Dec. 1.
    • CBS 8 reports that more than 70 percent of SDSU students living on campus are traveling out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday. University officials asked students not to travel earlier this month to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. 
    • Communities in the South Bay are bracing for another surge in coronavirus cases. KPBS reports the area is experiencing the largest increases as cases across the county continue to rise.
    • A reader asked last week where cases are most prominent. You can check out cases by ZIP code here, or use this interactive map from the county.

In Other News

  • A 56-year-old Jamaican immigrant died earlier this year following an encounter with the Chula Vista Police Department. There are conflict accounts of what happened, and his official cause of death is still unknown because the medical examiner’s report is sealed. The family has filed a lawsuit. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Developers are building 131 new affordable housing units in National City, but officials are worried about parking. A state density bonus program reduces the number of parking spaces available in the building from 179 spaces to 79. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego State University is selling seats from SDCCU stadium for $299 a pair. (NBC 7)
  • YouTube has banned One America News Network (based in San Diego) from posting new videos and making money off existing videos for one week after they posted a video “promoting a phony cure for COVID-19.” (Axios)

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, Jesse Marx and MacKenzie Elmer, and edited by Sara Libby. 

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