Morning Report: Pressure Mounts on Mickey Kasparian - Voice of San Diego

News UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Morning Report: Pressure Mounts on Mickey Kasparian

Parents say kids are being injured in understaffed special ed classrooms. Nondisclosure agreements are getting attention in the political world. And San Diego just out-San Diego’d itself on vacation rentals.

Mickey Kasparian speaks at Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2016 / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher called on labor leader Mickey Kasparian to resign Friday, but only from his position on county’s Democratic Party central committee and other community boards.

“I believe In due process,” Gonzalez Fletcher wrote on Facebook, “but I am disturbed that a string of Latina women from my district have felt so threatened by one person. Ultimately, it is up to the members of [United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135] whether to retain him as their leader.”

Stepping down from the party structure, she said, would “ensure no [women] feel unsafe during the litigation of these accusations.”

Earlier in the week, Melody Godinez, a labor activist, filed a lawsuit against Kasparian alleging that he’d groped and harassed her. It was the third such lawsuit in about a year.

Since then, other former employees have come forward to say Kasparian polices his staff and the local political landscape through bullying and fear, and that he mistreats women specifically.

Kasparian has repeatedly denied the accusations, calling them “categorically and completely false” in a statement.

Gonzalez Fletcher and Kasparian used to work together on the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, the local affiliate of AFL-CIO, a coalition of unions. Their sometimes tense relationship got worse in 2013 when Gonzalez Fletcher endorsed then mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, now her husband.

Kasparian recruited Councilman David Alvarez to run against Nathan Fletcher, sinking the latter’s mayoral hopes for a second time. But Friday Alvarez, came to Gonzalez Fletcher’s defense Friday on social media, saying, “Now prepare for the wrath of Mickey. I’ll stand with you when he retaliates, because he will.”

It got ugly on Twitter: GOP power broker Jason Roe also jumped into the fray, advising Gonzalez Fletcher to “focus closer to home.” She asked whether he was day drinking. “Or just getting high on your wife’s weed?”

Parents on Edge About Understaffed Special Ed Classrooms

Parents of special education students in San Diego Unified continue to speak out that their children are unsafe in severely understaffed classrooms.

A mother of a student with special needs at Perry Elementary in southeastern San Diego said kids in her child’s classroom have been injured, one wandered out of the school and another put his head through a window..

The stories should sound familiar. Last month, various parents told officials that, without the close supervision of aides and other special education staff, children have wandered out of classrooms and eaten things like rocks and paper clips.

Sacramento Still Wrestling with Sexual Harassment Policies

The onslaught of sexual harassment allegations in recent months have shown many powerful men are able to evade accountability, in some cases for decades, because of nondisclosure agreements.

In the political world, those agreements typically provide victims with (taxpayer) money in exchange for silence.

As such, California Senate GOP Leader Patricia Bates, who represents part of North County, is calling on her colleagues to re-evaluate the use of NDAs and allow victims to voluntarily release themselves from past agreements.

Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León announced the hiring of two law firms to handle sexual harassment investigations into Sens. Tony Mendoza and Bob Hertzberg, and all such future probes involving Senate employees.

Also in this week’s Sacramento Report, all four of the GOP lawmakers in the Assembly are urging their GOP counterparts in DC to renew a health care program that benefits vulnerable children and pregnant women. Congress passed a short-term extension for the program earlier this month, but as year-end federal budget talks continue in Washington, the program’s future remains uncertain.

VOSD Podcast: San Diego Out-San Diego’d Itself

There’s a leadership vacuum in San Diego, something that was made painfully clear this week when nothing was decided after a 10-hour City Council meeting Tuesday that was supposed to provide clarity on vacation rentals.

Councilman Chris Cate later released a scorching statement that read, in part, “We cannot govern.”

Also on this week’s podcast, hosts Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts discuss Tuesday’s epic vacation rental regulation failure. Plus: Ellen Montanari talks about the regular protests she leads outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office.

Issa says he’s still voting no on the Republicans’ tax reform bill.

Cate Pays Fine, But Defends His Action

Speaking of Cate. The U-T reports he agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to a local ethics commission for passing along a confidential memo last year to developers, but struck a defensive tone in the process.

The memo dealt with real estate negotiations and potential litigation surrounding property in Mission Valley, where competing projects have been proposed. Cate said he should be entitled to seek outside information as a policymaker.

“While the city attorney did not introduce the Soccer City memo in closed session, it became clear she did intend it as privileged information,” he said in a statement. “I regret breaking her confidence.”

In Other News

  • One of the 20 temporary licenses issued by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control went to a Torrey Holistics, a company in the Sorrento Valley neighborhood of San Diego. (Associated Press)
  • SANDAG’s mission is to help ensure San Diego County meets ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals, and the new board chairman says climate change is a “debatable issue.” (KPBS)
  • In the aftermath of the Lilac Fire and other blazes, the state public utilities commission passed more stringent regulations intended to reduce the risk of wildfires. (Union-tribune)
  • For two years, San Ysidro School District overstated student enrollment, meaning administrators owe the state an estimated $5.1 million. Another $2.1 million worth of expenses could not be found in the current budget. (inewsource)
  • Santee is one step closer to banning smoking in public parks, and a survey suggests that the vast majority of residents there are cool with that. (NBC7)
  • Three San Diego-based defense contractors were ordered to pay millions after their owners pleaded guilty to defrauding the Pentagon. (NBC7)
  • Since 2012, the Hilton hotel chain has opened its facilities to medical training seminars that involve cadavers in cities including New York, Chicago and San Diego. (New York Times)

Top Stories of the Week

These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Dec. 8 – Dec. 15. To see the full top 10 list, click here.

  1.  Some Homebuyers Back Out of Chula Vista Development Following Methane Discovery

A few homebuyers in the 950-home Village of Escaya development in eastern Chula Vista have backed out of their deals following the discovery of methane and other gases in the soil. Others hoping to move into their new homes by Christmas might not have running water. (Ry Rivard)

  1. More Students Describe Unwanted Touching From La Jolla High Teacher

Two more former students of a former La Jolla High teacher accused of groping female students have come forward to say his behavior in the classroom made them uncomfortable, and that they felt at a loss as to how to respond. (Ashly McGlone)

  1. County Officials Set to Consider Allowing Nearly 6,000 New Homes in High Wildfire Risk Areas

County leaders may soon decide whether to let developers move forward with several projects that would be located in areas of extreme wildfire danger. (Maya Srikrishnan)

  1. Alvarez Flips, Torpedoes Council Decision on Vacation Rentals

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez had joined three colleagues to support a permissive regulation structure for short-term vacation rentals. But as the decision headed toward a vote, he backed off. He later explained that he’d listened to residents’ feedback. But he also declined to support an alternative plan. (Lisa Halverstadt)

  1. The Learning Curve: Eight of the State’s Most Segregated Schools Are in San Diego

Eight schools in San Diego Unified make the list of the most racially segregated schools in the state. But there hasn’t exactly been a critical mass of parents pushing for more integrated schools. More often, parents who aren’t happy with their assigned neighborhood schools speak with their feet. (Mario Koran)

Corrections

Thursday’s Learning Curve column mischaracterized an inewsource/Hechinger Report story on segregation within certain community college classes. That report dealt with students who fail to make it through a remedial course sequence within two years, not necessarily those who ultimately fail the courses.

Show Comments
Loading

We’re striving for the best possible discussion and may delete comments using our editorial judgment. All comments containing links will be reviewed by VOSD staff before they are published.
Read our full comment policy.
For longer comments, consider submitting an op-ed to Voice of San Diego.
Read the guidelines here.

We have recently updated our commenting system. If you are unable to submit a comment, please clear the cache and cookies in your browser, or use a private browsing window. Click here for detailed instructions.