Morning Report: Hepatitis A Finger-Pointing Resumes With Gusto - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Hepatitis A Finger-Pointing Resumes With Gusto

Workers power-wash a sidewalk near the Midway area. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Assemblyman Todd Gloria wants state auditors to dig into whether San Diego County’s response to last year’s deadly hepatitis A outbreak was adequate.

The assemblyman on Thursday released a letter calling on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to determine whether “the public health of all Californians was sufficiently protected” amid an outbreak that spread throughout the state.

Gloria’s request highlighted revelations by Voice of San Diego, including county bureaucrats’ decision not to share detailed data on cases or deaths with the public – or with cities scrambling to respond to the health crisis. The assemblyman also requested that state auditors look into the steps local officials took to address the outbreak prior to the county’s September public health emergency declaration. That followed a VOSD story documenting bureaucratic fumbling in response to the unprecedented outbreak.

The audit committee is set to vote on May 16 on whether to pursue the review.

A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the city would welcome an outside review and was confident reviewers would note its aggressive response to the outbreak.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who’s repeatedly criticized the city for its sluggish reaction to the health crisis, did so again Thursday.

“Although we are currently seeing great leadership at the City of San Diego with tackling homelessness and the housing crisis, it’s important to remember that the County Grand Jury in 2010 called on city leaders to address the growing homeless population, including the need for more public restrooms and sanitizing streets and sidewalks,” Jacob wrote in a statement shared with VOSD and the U-T. “If state leaders want to look at where this crisis originated, that would be a good start.”

This brought a heated response from City Councilman David Alvarez. “The County should be placed in receivership by the state for malpractice and ineptitude in dealing with health and human services,” he wrote. It continued.

Jacob also offered up some news: The county is expected to release its own after-action review of its response to the hepatitis A outbreak next week.

-Lisa Halverstadt

5th Avenue Landing: San Diego Explained

Long have San Diego leaders envisioned expanding the convention center onto a parking lot that sits behind the center’s current footprint, in between the Convention Center and the harbor. The spot is called 5th Avenue Landing, and an organization by the same name owns the lease to that land, which is state-owned. They offer it for paid parking now, but that organization wants to build a hotel on the land; not at all what Convention Center expansion boosters have in mind. In our newest San Diego Explained, Scott Lewis and NBC 7’s Monica Dean dive into how the coming weeks could either produce a huge deal to transfer the lease to the city of San Diego, or could foreclose on the dreams of Convention Center expansion at that site forever.

Commentary: Veteran Teachers Are Critical

Andres Perez is into his third year teaching tenth grade students and has become keenly aware of the advantages veteran teachers can bring to bear in the classroom. “Veteran teachers have also lived out millions of unique classroom moments and know how to respond in a pinch,” Perez writes. The problem is, there aren’t enough veteran teachers for every classroom, and the students hardest hit by inexperienced teachers are often the lowest income students.

Perez proposes several ideas to fight this trend, including collecting teacher placement at the per-student level, and being transparent with parents about how well a school is retaining teachers.

“In the past, the state awarded national board-certified teachers $20,000 if they taught in high-priority schools for four consecutive years, but this program hasn’t been funded since 2013,” Perez writes.

Commentary: ‘Voluntary’ Sex Work Is The Wrong Question

A recent interview we did with District Attorney Summer Stephan inspired a conversation about whether voluntary sex work is something that exists, or whether all such work falls under the label of human trafficking. Jamie Quient, president of the non-profit Freedom To Thrive, writes that her work with the victims of human trafficking leads her to believe that even so-called voluntary workers have been compelled into the profession. “I have yet to meet a former sex worker who freely chose that work without anyone exploiting a vulnerability to get them into it,” Quient writes.

But rather than argue about voluntary or not, Quient believes the risk factors that commonly lead to sex work are apparent and need attention. A vicious cycle of foster homes, drugs and criminal records too often precedes a life in the sex industry, voluntary or not. “We should be asking, ‘What can we do to address the underlying risk factors that contribute to sex trafficking?'” Quient writes.

Seattle Looks to San Diego for Homeless Success

Usually when San Diego is contemplating solutions to homelessness, we’re the ones looking abroad at what other cities have done that could work. But in Seattle’s quest to solve homelessness, the Seattle Times looks to San Diego’s model of supporting people who are living in their cars.

“San Diego has managed to do something Seattle hasn’t: sustain a large, longterm effort that consistently gets people out of their vehicles and into housing,” Vianna Davila writes.

San Diego’s Dreams For Change operates three parking lots totaling 150 parking spaces, where people can register to park and sleep in their vehicles overnight. Davila reports 43 percent of clients who use the parking lots are ultimately transitioned into housing. “And San Diego does so far more efficiently, spending $436,000 to operate three safe lots,” Davila writes.

Workers for CalTrans who have cleared out homeless camps have filed a grievance with the state saying they didn’t sign up for the job of cleaning up needles and human waste.

California Housing Trends Look Dim

KPBS brings the heavy charts and graphs in their explanation of the five reasons housing is so expensive in California. Warning: Some of these charts have been known to lead to depression and anxiety for San Diego’s millennials.

All the top housing issues make an appearance here, from supply and demand to Prop 13 and even foreign investors who buy properties with cash. And don’t forget government red tape, too.

“The median price of a home is now well over half a million dollars — that number is about $240,000 nationally,” KPBS reports.

Absent from the analysis: the impact of housing units dedicated to short-term rentals, like those found on Airbnb.

Lightning Round

• Parents of one student at Miller Elementary School have filed a lawsuit against San Diego Unified School District claiming the district has been ignoring the repeated sexual abuse of a 5-year-old by older students.

• A woman who was “agitated and angry” and a man who “squared up” on a police officer on the trolley were found not guilty of “soiling a trolley seat.” (Union-Tribune)

• KPBS reports on how San Diego’s most dense neighborhoods are still severely lacking in public parks. This is an old issue we helped clarify with a fact check.

• Despite warning and citing the developers of Lake San Marcos for years, the county has taken no action on multiple violations they have found. (inewsource)

• “The state of California is suing an El Cajon gym over allegations that it denied a transgender woman access to the women’s locker room there for almost a year.” (Union-Tribune)

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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