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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
District Attorney Summer Stephan looks at sex workers in San Diego and says all she can see is victims of human trafficking. She explained on a recent podcast interview with VOSD how she thinks even people who claim to do sex work voluntarily were likely sucked into the work at a young age and have few options for escaping, even if they wanted to.
But Deputy Public Defender Genevieve Jones-Wright, Stephan’s opponent in the upcoming election, strongly disagrees with the district attorney’s view. “You can’t legislate morality. Some people voluntarily want to be sex workers,” Jones-Wright argued in Facebook post responding to Stephan’s position.
Mario Koran reports the controversy reflects a wider change happening in other cities, where law enforcement is increasingly treating prostitutes as victims rather than criminals. “Philadelphia’s district attorney sent his staff a memo in February advising prosecutors not to charge sex workers if they have two or fewer prostitution convictions,” Koran writes.
The drumbeat calling for reform of how we elect board members of the San Diego Unified School District has arrived at the board itself, and it’s formed a 24-member committee to look into several options. While changing from at-large to district-only elections is one of the items under consideration, Mario Koran reports there are several other big ideas on the table as well.
Increasing the number of sub-districts and increasing the number of board members is one such idea. Letting 16-year-olds and undocumented residents vote is another. But the ones that strike closest to the current board are proposals to pay board members as full-time employees (they’re currently paid $18,000 per year as part-timers), as well as a proposal to institute term limits.
“Trustees Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans are both serving their third terms, and Kevin Beiser is running unopposed for his third term,” Koran writes.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer is set to propose a budget for the coming fiscal year that is downright rosy in its outlook for San Diego. The Union-Tribune reports Faulconer wants to see expanded budgets for hot items like library hours, new firefighter recruits and homelessness efforts. But even more significantly, the mayor wants go wild with spending on infrastructure.
“A companion capital improvement budget of $553 million, a spike from $445 million last year and triple the $179 million the city spent five years ago, would boost money for street repair, sidewalks, parks projects and building upgrades,” David Garrick writes.
Proposals for sharp increases in spending fly in the face of recent budget crunch predictions, as well as predictions from “financial analysts” warning of an economic downturn. San Diego’s pension costs are still predicted to rise, but Faulconer’s spree is mostly fueled by “one-time revenues that won’t be available in coming years,” Garrick reports.
• While we’re on the topic of a sudden surge of revenue into the city, it just so happens the city’s Public Utilities Department reports it’s read 99.8 percent of water meters to check for issues of overcharging customers, as of this week. (NBC 7)
KPBS’s Megan Burks looks into how the concept of school choice is working in Vista Unified when combined with cutbacks to school bus routes.
As it turns out, it leads to a lot of questions about equal and safe access to schools. “White, more affluent children were disproportionately represented in Vista’s magnet schools,” thanks in part to their ability to find good transportation from far away. Low-income and Latino students relied on the public bus system.
On a recent walk with families who live at least 1.5 miles away, Vista’s superintendent found students are often walking in the streets with no sidewalks to be found. “Vista developed in the 1920s as an agricultural community,” Burks writes, so sidewalks weren’t always a priority.
As VOSD has reported, San Diego Unified has also slashed its bus services in recent years.
• Over on the college side, community colleges and the University of California system have reached an agreement that can guarantee community college graduates admission into a UC school. (NBC 7)
• A Union-Tribune poll finds voters in the 49th Congressional District currently prefer Assemblyman Rocky Chávez as their first choice to replace retiring Rep. Darrell Issa, and many of them think President Donald Trump’s performance is the top issue in the election.
• SeaWorld’s “Blackfish” nightmare continues, as it discloses that it may soon face enforcement actions from the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Union-Tribune)
• KPBS profiles a San Diego man who works three jobs, has an MBA and can’t find stable work or housing.
• San Diegans frustrated with street parking situations are taking matters, and paint cans, into their own hands by illegally painting curbs whichever color they prefer. (10News)
• San Diego’s downtown temporary park and beer garden, Quartyard, has found a new temporary spot a few blocks away from where it last set up, and is set to reopen. (KPBS)
• Newsrooms all over California are having to sue the state over new rules that would limit journalists’ access to death penalty executions. (KPBS)
• Think we should break California up into three states? Such an initiative will probably appear on the November ballot. (NBC 7)
• A clash between San Diego’s Stone Brewing and beer giant MillerCoors over the use of the word “Stone” on beer has taken another turn, with MillerCoors claiming it has the rights to the Stone name when it comes to beer. Thorough analysis is provided via Twitter thread.