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Morning Report: Report Found Teacher Groped Students; Officials Agreed to Keep it Quiet

The School for the Creative and Performing Arts building at Chula Vista High School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Anthony Atienza was Chula Vista High School’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. He was also found by district officials to have serially harassed and groped several students.

Ashly McGlone reports that three students told Sweetwater Union High School District that they were targeted with frequent touching and inappropriate remarks on and off campus, including a school trip to Disneyland. An assistant principal concluded in a 63-page report in July 2017 that Atienza’s conduct had been “severe and pervasive.”

Atienza called the report “slanted” and said it relied on “three troubled female students over the legion of current and former students, their parents, and teaching colleagues who know the allegations against me are false.”

Atienza has been on paid leave this school year. He continues to teach classes at Christian Youth Theater and, until recently, Lakeside Middle School. Representatives for both the theater group and the school said they had not seen the investigation, nor been notified by Sweetwater about the misconduct findings.

Sweetwater officials agreed as part of Atienza’s resignation deal not to discuss or disclose the investigation or complaints with potential employers. After Atienza’s resignation takes effect on June 30, school staff promised to tell anyone who inquired that “Atienza has voluntarily resigned from the district, and we wish him well.”

Docs Shed More Light on What ‘Zero Tolerance’ Looks Like in San Diego

Court documents help paint a more detailed picture of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting every migrant who crosses the border illegally looks like in San Diego.

In a letter to the chief district judge, the executive director of the Federal Defenders of San Diego laid out troubling developments he sees happening under the new policy and how those problems will be exacerbated if the Southern District of California implements Operation Streamline, a program that could bring mass trials to San Diego.

Some of the concerns were ones we’ve heard before: court is running late, and defense attorneys don’t have access to their clients, who are being held as far away as Arizona.

But the letter highlights other issues, like the conditions under which migrants are being held. According to the letter, they don’t have access to basic hygiene, often have to sleep on cold floors with the lights on all day and night, and don’t have access to adequate medical care.

Another document, a declaration from one Guatemalan migrant, details how his 5-year-old daughter was taken from him and is currently being held in a facility across the country, in New York.

Politics Report: SANDAG Furious

SANDAG’s legal counsel on Friday outlined potential punishments for any board members or staff who leak information out of a closed-door discussion. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and others had blocked the agency’s board from filling its vacant executive director position with an internal, scandal-connected candidate.

While offering warnings to their colleagues, two North County mayors wound up confirming the previous story by Andrew Keatts and provided some new details.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed complained that this wasn’t the first time closed-door information had been leaked. He said a labor union had contacted one of the executive director finalists.

That seems like another leak.

Also in this week’s Politics Report:

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

  • San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole had a tough night last Tuesday. How bad will it get for her?
  • SANDAG did end up endorsing higher targets for housing.
  • And our Elections Contest winners were announced.
  • On a special post-election podcast, political consultant Ryan Clumpner and Carol Kim of the Building and Construction Trades Council helped us make sense of some of the big surprises in the primary. They considered the effectiveness of outside spending, the weak showing by City Council President Myrtle Cole and more.

Artists Want More Control Over Arts District Liberty Station

One of the 26 city buildings inside Arts District Liberty Station. / Photo by Kinsee morlan

The arts district in Liberty Station is growing, and now some of the tenants who rent studios at the former military center want a bigger say in its future. The site has the potential to become a cultural destination, but, as Kinsee Morlan reports, the public has virtually no control over its direction.

Though the city owns the space, a nonprofit runs the arts district, and even a former board member of that nonprofit admits the board doesn’t tend to pay any attention to the artists who rent space there.

“The main point the artists keep coming back to: They want more access to the NTC Foundation,” Morlan writes. “They want to attend board meetings — possibly even have representation on the board — and they want to be included in decisions that affect the future of the arts district.”

Why Is Housing So Expensive?

San Diego has a shortage of affordable housing, and the vacation rental industry is tired of getting the blame.

In a new op-ed, Jonah Mechanic, president of Share San Diego, argues that the number of units removed from the market by vacation rentals is not significant, and most were never affordable to begin with. “The overwhelming majority of these rentals in San Diego are within two miles of the coastline and most are within 10 blocks of the beach,” he writes.

Kirk Effinger, a writer and Escondido resident, argues in a letter to the editor that the reason the San Diego region lacks affordable housing is not, as many claim, developer greed. It’s government interference — in the form of costly regulations and fees.

In Other News

  • Sara Jacobs called fellow Democrat Mike Levin on Saturday to congratulate him on his second-place finish in the 49th Congressional District race. Jacobs was trailing Levin by about 2 percentage points. “While there are still thousands of votes left to be counted,” she wrote on Facebook, “it’s time to bring our party together and turn our efforts and attention toward making sure Diane Harkey does not go to Congress.”
  • In the Sacramento Report, state Sen. Joel Anderson reflects on his remaining time in the Legislature and on the Board of Equalization race ahead. Anderson will run in November against Democrat Mike Schaefer, a perennial candidate who was once banned from coming within 100 feet of comedian Brad Garrett, the brother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
  • A new analysis, paid for by the Port of San Diego, favors the city’s proposed convention center expansion over a private hotel development. (Union-Tribune)
  • Mayor Kevin Faulconer was in Boston this weekend, leading a discussion on strengthening economic ties and cross-border commerce between the U.S. and Mexican and Canadian cities. (10News)

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Jesse Marx and edited by Sara Libby.

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