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Morning Report: Faulconer’s Record Under the Microscope

Tents for homeless residents line up Island Street in downtown San Diego / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Four of the leading Republicans who are vying to become the next governor in an upcoming recall election met this week for a televised debate. Naturally, they spent much of their time bashing Gavin Newsom.

But while trying to distinguish themselves in front of voters, several of the candidates also took swipes at former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer [1] and the claims he’s made on the campaign trail.

Faulconer, for instance, has taken credit for a drop in homelessness in San Diego. But he fails to mention changes to the annual homeless count and its methodology, along with a city crackdown to make homelessness less visible.

During his time as mayor, Lisa Halverstadt writes, Faulconer dramatically increased the services available to the homeless, but he also ratcheted up enforcement to try to compel people to partake in those programs.

If you missed the debate, AP reports that Faulconer stood out [2] in other ways.

He criticized state efforts to expand health care to people who entered the country without documentation. He also encouraged people to get vaccinated, “something none of the other contenders on stage repeated,” but wouldn’t give a clear answer on whether he’d prohibit schools from imposing mask mandates.

We took a deeper dive into Faulconer’s tenure as mayor late last year, looking specifically at his leadership (or lack thereof) when it came to homelessness [3], policing [4], real estate [5] and development [6]

There’s More Rental Assistance Money to Dole Out

The city of San Diego has allocated more relief money for people struggling [7] to pay rent and utilities because of the pandemic. 

As of Aug. 3, Maya Srikrishnan writes, the Housing Commission has only distributed $66 million of the $135 million set aside. In May, housing officials said they wouldn’t be able to spend all of the funds due to limitations set by the state.

Some of the new funds must be spent by early next year, with the remainder spent by the end of next summer. In the meantime, Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry said allowing people to use the funds to pay down housing-related debt would help. 

“Some households that have incurred debt through high-interest credit cards or payday loans to keep up with rent can’t qualify for emergency rental assistance because they don’t have past due rent,” Srikrishnan writes. 

Mission Dioramas Are a Thing of the Past

If you lived in California as a kid, you probably remember your fourth-grade history assignment of building a state mission diorama. You’d need a lot of hot glue and corrugated paper, not to mention milk cartons and clay. But as contributor Randy Dotinga explores in the latest Learning Curve newsletter, mission-making is now (mostly) history [8].

“The change is linked to a changing understanding about our state’s early history,” Dotinga writes. “The Spanish colonialization of California is no longer romanticized, and we now recognize the brutal treatment of Native Americans by European invaders.”

This year, local officials changed the name of Junipero Serra High in the Tierrasanta neighborhood after students objected to honoring Father Junipero Serra, founder of the mission system. And while elementary schools have been asked to ditch the dioramas, an official who oversees curriculum for San Diego Unified told Dotinga that what teachers can instead do is help children gain a general understanding of the mission era and competing goals.

In Other News

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