Morning Report: Pushing Pause on the Franchise Fee Decision

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Morning Report: Pushing Pause on the Franchise Fee Decision

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City Council President Georgette Gómez is trying to stop Mayor Kevin Faulconer from entering into a new, long-term contract with a utility to provide gas and electricity to city residents.

Gómez told the mayor’s office in a memo Monday that she wants the city to negotiate a one-year extension of SDG&E’s contract to give the new mayor and Council time to determine the city’s energy future, reports VOSD’s Mackenzie Elmer.

“Granting these franchises is a momentous decision for the City Council that should not be rushed, especially when a new council and new mayor are about to be inaugurated,” Gómez wrote in the memo.

Some advocates who aren’t fond of Faulconer’s proposed contract terms applauded the move.

The Climate Action Campaign said the move would allow the new mayor and Council to start fresh to “pursue the path that achieves full decarbonization of our energy system, both electricity and gas.”

But labor unions aren’t happy about it.

“What the [Council] president’s move is doing to us is asking us to start back at square one, which is creating uncertainty and leaving our members in limbo,” the business manager for IBEW Local Union 465 told Elmer. 

North County Voters Are Kind of All Over the Place

In the latest North County Report, VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez highlights some of the mixed messages coming out of North County

It’s been widely reported that Terra Lawson-Remer’s win helped flip control of the Board of Supervisors to Democrats, and Esther Sanchez’s win in Oceanside also gives Dems control of a seat long held by GOP leaders. But in Escondido, Republicans are poised to flip control of the City Council.

There’s no clean narrative on housing or marijuana, either: Voters in Poway approved The Farm, a new housing development, while voters in Oceanside rejected the North River Farms proposal. Voters in Encinitas appear to have OK’d marijuana businesses to open there, while voters in Solana Beach want to keep those businesses out.

Our Northern Neighbors Release More COVID Data

California and Oregon both responded early and swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing broad shutdowns and imposing strict requirements for masks and face coverings as they began to re-open. But where they’ve differed is in how they report and track workplace outbreaks, CalMatters reports.

Since May, Oregon has used a centralized tracking system, which has enabled health officials there to release weekly reports that list the names and addresses of every known business with at least 30 employees where five or more positive COVID-19 cases are identified. 

In contrast, California doesn’t post workplace outbreaks. The state lets its 58 counties handle their coronavirus data, and there’s wide variation in with in how each county tracks and reports workplace outbreaks.  That, CalMatters reports, has public health experts and workers concerned, since millions of workers are receiving little information about whether or not it’s safe to go to work.

It’s one of the reasons Voice of San Diego, along with KPBS and the Union-Tribune, is suing San Diego County for more information on COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the county.

We’ve previously reported on outbreaks at workplaces in San Diego, like the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In Other News

  • Wednesday’s Morning Report included a KUSI report where Jim Kidrick, the CEO of the San Diego Air and Space Museum proclaimed that he would defy the latest lockdown order from the state of California to control COVID-19 spread and keep the museum open. Later Wednesday, the museum announced it would not be doing that.  
  • In the first two weeks since the city started enforcing parking again since the start of the pandemic, it fined 8,000 more drivers than were cited during the same two-week period in last year. (NBC 7)
  • After sitting idle for months, school buses are slowly being used again to transport students as some schools re-open. But the pandemic is still hitting district transportation departments financially. Poway Unified spent more than $45,000 on COVID-related supplies to keep buses safe, while losing more than a $1 million in revenue due to a drop in bus pass sales. (KPBS)
  • Hundreds of people are still waiting to get COVID-19 rent relief through the city’s $15.1 million emergency rental assistance program from the San Diego Housing Commission. (inewsource)
  • Private school students in San Diego County are more than twice as likely to be attending school in-person as public school students during the pandemic. (Union-Tribune)
  • Voters approved last week a new body to oversee allegations of misconduct against the San Diego Police Department, but before it starts functioning, the City Council will need to pass an ordinance that sets out how it will work, how many representatives serve on the commission and how they’ll be selected. (KPBS)

Corrections

Wednesday’s story about the City Council potentially delaying a decision on the franchise fee agreement misstated the number of union workers employed by SDG&E. It is 1,400.

Tuesday’s story about possible tensions between the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Bill Gore mischaracterized the latest budget’s impact on the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board. The budget allowed for three additional staff members.

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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