Morning Report: Faulconer Mostly Silent as Policing Issues Blew Up

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Morning Report: Faulconer Mostly Silent as Policing Issues Blew Up

Mayor Kevin Faulconer speaks at a press conference announcing San Diego Police Department’s decision to stop using the carotid restraint method. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

We’re continuing our deep dive into Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s legacy in the waning days of his administration.

In a new piece, Jesse Marx examines Faulconer’s record on one of the most high-profile issues facing the city and the nation over the last seven years: policing.

One group gives Faulconer high marks for his mayoral tenure, and that’s the police themselves. Faulconer raised police pay in an effort to retain officers and attract high-caliber recruits.

When it comes to the people on the other side of the policing equation – members of the community, and particularly Black San Diegans who experience police interactions at rates far higher than their share of the population – the reviews are much different.

“When it comes to the terms Faulconer set for himself on policing and public safety — predominantly hiring, pay and retention, which were seen as worthy causes at the time even among progressives — he was largely successful,” Marx writes.

But on a long list of high-profile policing issues that exploded on Faulconer’s watch — from the department’s extensive record of racial profiling, to its reluctance to release body camera videos of controversial incidents to the revelations that its crime lab watered down rape kit testing standards and that police were punishing speech using a century-old law, Faulconer was notably silent.

A spokesman for Faulconer described the mayor’s record in a way that acknowledges he largely stayed hands-off and allowed the Police Department to run itself: “The mayor’s leadership philosophy includes hiring exceptional people, providing clear expectations and empowering them to make decisions in their areas of responsibility,” Gustavo Portela wrote in an emailed statement.  

More Coronavirus Cases at the Convention Center

Seventy-four homeless San Diegans staying at the Convention Center shelter have now tested positive for coronavirus since Saturday.

Faulconer’s office announced that another 21 homeless residents and five staff members received positive test results on Monday after dozens of positive tests came back over the weekend. Two additional tests have come back inconclusive.

The homeless San Diegans who have tested positive have moved into county-funded hotel rooms for people who have or may have coronavirus but do not have a safe place to isolate.

Faulconer spokeswoman Ashley Bailey said testing continues at the Convention Center shelter this week and that most who have tested positive did not have symptoms when they received tests. 

Some Convention Center residents had been set to move into new permanent homes in two hotels the city purchased with the help of Project Homekey funds this week. Bailey said those moves have been postponed until later in the week to facilitate testing and other precautions. 

Report: Border Wall Contractors Smuggled Mexican Security Guards

The New York Times reported Monday that contractors working on border wall construction projects illegally smuggled in teams of Mexican security guards to protect the areas, according to whistleblower testimony recently unsealed.

“The whistle-blowers said Ultimate Concrete went so far as to build a dirt road to expedite illegal border crossings to sites in San Diego, using construction vehicles to block security cameras,” the paper reports.

The Times piece also reports that the wall has been repeatedly breached “requiring repairs that the whistle-blowers say were completed by workers who were not authorized by the government to be on the job.”

Advocates Want to Require Electric Trucks Near the Port

Mitsubishi Cement Company wants to build a new warehouse and hauling facility along the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, a project that would add between 176 and 296 new truck trips per day.

Environmental justice advocates have an idea for how to mitigate the pollution those new truck trips would bring with them: requiring Mitsubishi to use zero-emissions trucks.

The only problem? They’re not commercially available yet. MacKenzie Elmer hashes out the debate in this week’s Environment Report.

Truck manufacturers are beginning to develop electric vehicle prototypes and Mitsubishi Fuso has an electric-powered light truck on the market already.

“I think once these orders start coming through, the manufacturing is going to ramp up as well,” said Diane Takvorian, executive director and co-founder of nonprofit Environmental Health Coalition.

The coalition wants the Port board to delay its Tuesday vote on Mitsubishi’s lease, at least until new commissioners are seated in January.

UCSD Tracing System Being Rolled Out Statewide

A system developed by UC San Diego and UC San Francisco to notify people when they’ve come into contact with someone with COVID-19 is being rolled out statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.

“When a person who has opted into the program tests positive for COVID-19, the person can then consent to have all of their recent close contacts notified by cell phone,” City News Service reports

That’s just one of the many types of coronavirus-combating tech being developed locally – we did a rundown of some of the others back in July.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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