Morning Report: Engineer Paid Not to Work at Sweetwater Authority Is Now a Board Member - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Engineer Paid Not to Work at Sweetwater Authority Is Now a Board Member

Members of the Sweetwater Authority Operations Committee meet in March 2019. / Photo by Megan Wood

Hector Martinez took an unusual route to his place on the Sweetwater Authority board, a South Bay water board that provides drinking water to National City and parts of Chula Vista.

He used to be an employee of the organization, working as an engineer.

In 2012, Martinez sued the Sweetwater Authority, alleging racial discrimination after he didn’t receive a promotion. In 2014, the organization paid him $175,000 to settle the case – so long as Martinez agreed“not to seek re-employment” with the district “in any capacity.”

Being a member of the group’s board, however, doesn’t count.

He ran for the board in 2018, and won a spot overwhelmingly.

Ry Rivard reports on Martinez’s strange journey to the board in a new story.

There’s another strange twist: Martinez “also has ties to a former board member who, years earlier, was paid in exchange for leaving the district’s board.”

SDPD No Longer Shares License Plate Data With Border Patrol

The San Diego Police Department uses a network of cameras that scan license plates in public and record the date, time and GPS location of the cars that pass by them. The department controls who can access that data, and as we revealed last year, they had elected to share it with agencies across the country, including San Diego’s sector of the Border Patrol.

Now, Maya Srikrishnan reports that the San Diego Police Department has stopped sharing its automated license plate reader data with federal agencies, including Border Patrol.

A police department spokesman said San Diego wanted to comply with SB 54, a 2017 state law intended to create a firewall between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement.

A researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation applauded San Diego for its decision to restrict access to the data, but noted that other local agencies still contract with the private company in charge of the license plate reader database.

Politics Roundup

Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins are outspoken about the need to fix California’s housing crisis. But they’re wary of a bill that would let local lawmakers roll back many local home-building regulations, including San Diego’s coastal height limit, a sacred cow of the beach communities.

We took our podcast to the people in a live taping this week, and invited SANDAG’s new executive director, Hasan Ikhrata, and Climate Action Campaign executive director Nicole Capretz to talk about the future of transit in San Diego and more.

As Scott Lewis noted in the Politics Report, Ikhrata dropped quite a few doozies at our event. For example, he’s done talking about building highways, and he’s cool talking critically of the people he reports to. “I know some of my board members would love to fire me tomorrow,” he said. “That’s OK.”

In Other News

No big deal, it’s totally chill, but here’s our Culture Report scribe Julia Dixon Evans talking about her NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARD. (Lit Hub)

An Escondido avocado company is voluntarily recalling avocados because of a possible listeria contamination. (Associated Press)

“Smart walls” along the southwest border with Mexico are billed as an alternative to concrete and steel barriers. Parts of the Otay Mountain Wilderness seem ideal for a fence relying on artificial intelligence, radar, drones, sensors and more. (Union-Tribune)

San Diego has more than 2,300 vacant jobs — ranging from from 9-1-1 dispatchers to civil engineers — but is struggling to fill them. The head of the Municipal Employees Association blamed the city’s relatively low pay and benefits. (10News)

Investors allege a Poway man befriended and convinced them to hand over more than $7 million over the years. (NBC 7)

A recent leak of chat logs from a white supremacist group reveals how local members are targeting students on San Diego colleges and trying to project a respectable image. (Union-Tribune)

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

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