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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
The City Council will consider endorsing the plan to create a new agency to purchase electricity for residents. Republicans debate their future. SANDAG comes clean on how it won’t make good on its promises and much more.
The San Diego City Council will take its first major vote Monday on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to create a public energy program. If local labor leaders had their way, any related construction deals would come with guaranteed union contracts.
But according to the city attorney, officials can’t mandate union work — at least not yet.
For one thing, Ry Rivard reports, the agency doesn’t actually exist. Plus San Diego is still negotiating with other cities and the county to create a regional entity, known as a community choice aggregator, or CCA, in an attempt to provide cheaper and cleaner power.
Politicians in San Diego’s suburbs and the Republican-majority San Diego County Board of Supervisors may be turned away from joining such an agency that requires all of its work to be done by organized labor.
Though the city attorney’s opinion leans on legal reasoning, it bought time for the mayor. Faulconer doesn’t have to come out publicly one way or another until possibly this fall or later.
By selling and power power, San Diego would be competing with the region’s energy monopoly, SDG&E, which is also a major corporate political player and employer. Faulconer put forth his plan after the company failed to match his and the City Council’s vision of a clean energy future.
That competition and choice, though, may be short lived. SDG&E wants to get out of the business of buying electricity.
SDG&E isn’t going away. The company will continue to make delivering electricity but would no longer choose where that power comes from and what kind of power it is.
The San Diego Association of Governments admitted Friday it would not finish building everything it promised in 2004, when voters extended a sales tax to pay for highway and transit projects across the county.
That’s because TransNet, the tax-funded program that promised major projects like the Mid-Coast Trolley extension, is running out of money as revenue expectations have fallen and costs have relentlessly grown.
The reality has been obvious for some time after our reporting revealed that revenue projections were deeply flawed. Andrew Keatts first reported the agency’s infrastructure program was in coming up short in October 2016, but SANDAG regularly maintained that concerns were unwarranted.
SANDAG is now in danger of falling out of compliance with state and federal requirements that the region have an up-to-date transportation plan, putting potential state and federal funding in jeopardy. That would further exacerbate its funding woes.
The agency’s board of regional elected officials voted Friday to start from scratch with its long-term transportation plan, two weeks after the executive director said there was no way they’d meet state requirements for greenhouse gas reduction.
Related commentary: Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told the U-T that San Diego leaders need to fundamentally rethink the region’s approach to land use, transit and housing so that “the younger generation gets a lifestyle that they actually want. They don’t want to live in suburban Scripps Ranch and go to Applebee’s and drive 58 minutes to get to work.”
HUD Secretary Ben Carson praised one of San Diego’s bridge shelter tents on Friday while he was in town to speak at a national homelessness conference.
Carson, who stopped by Alpha Project’s Barrio Logan tent, later told hundreds gathered at the conference that he was “duly impressed” and encouraged by the program’s use of data and evidence to drive decision-making.
Carson also praised San Diego’s investments in funds meant to encourage landlords to rent to homeless people.
What Carson didn’t mention: The shelter tents, including Alpha Project’s, have struggled to move homeless San Diegans into permanent housing. In more recent months, homeless-serving nonprofits who run the three tents have reported more success — though the city also reduced the housing targets for the tents and broadened the definition of success.
In the Sacramento Report: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez intends to introduce a bill that would create an ombudsman position in school districts or county boards of education to oversee sexual harassment and misconduct complaints. That bill was inspired by Voice of San Diego reporting in 2017, which found that multiple students had complained about a La Jolla High School teacher. San Diego Unified School District claimed not to have any records of complaints.
Over on the podcast: We devised a ridiculous game and betting system to gear you up for the 2020 races (because why not). Alex Presha, host of NBC’s “Politically Speaking,” joined us to talk about his show and pony up his “Voice dollars.” Give it a listen — it’ll all make sense then.
In the Politics Report: Political consultant Mason Herron crunched November 2018 election numbers to see just how much each major race changed from Election Night to the final tally. We talked to him about his findings in the Politics Reports. Plus, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus is running for Supervisor, possibly against Tom Lemmon, the loose cannon (or is it straight-shooting?) labor leader. Giddy-up, cowboys!
In Sacramento: The California Republican Party chose a new leader this weekend: Jessica Patterson. She promised big changes after beating rival Travis Allen for the spot and several San Diegans were there cheering her on.
The future of the party is still very much being debated though. Local chairman Tony Krvaric got into a Twitter spat with veteran GOP consultant Mike Madrid after he told reporters to stop calling Madrid a GOP consultant. “You’ve run a lot of Latinos out of the Republican Party Tony but you’re not pushing me out,” Madrid wrote back. Later, Madrid promised to keep the feud going.
The Sweetwater Union High School Board met behind closed doors Friday evening to discuss the performance of Superintendent Karen Janney but didn’t end up taking any action.
Janney has been under a microscope since Will Huntsberry broke news this summer that the South Bay school district had overspent by $30 million, spiraling into a financial crisis. The California Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which is investigating, has turned heads for its candor in recent months — describing suspicious entries in the district’s budget system that amounted to a “cover-up.”
More: On Feb. 11, Huntsberry revealed Sweetwater officials knew trouble was brewing months before they said they did. This weekend, the U-T has more details on how formal those warnings were. (Hint: They were very formal.) Here’s the lede: “An internal auditor employed by Sweetwater Union High School District, warned its chief financial officer a year ago that the district’s financial books were incorrect — six months before the district claimed it began finding problems with its finances.”
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Sara Libby and edited by Scott Lewis.