Morning Report: Residents Support Shifting Police Funding

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Morning Report: Residents Support Shifting Police Funding

Hundreds of protesters march through University Avenue to demand justice for George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.⁣⁣ / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

A Voice of San Diego poll has found that more residents throughout the county support reallocating police funding toward social services than those who oppose it. 

The receptiveness to shifting funding varied significantly by age, gender, political affiliation and race, and was strongest among women and people of color. Despite the general openness among the public, though, officials at all levels of government have expressed a wariness – or outright hostility – to shifting money, Sara Libby writes.

Council President Georgette Gómez told us in July that Mayor Kevin Faulconer had said he would veto the budget if officials touched the funds set aside for the San Diego Police Department. She didn’t have the votes to force any changes through. 

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors also rebuffed pleas from residents this summer, but did vote last year to implement new lower pensions for newly hired deputy sheriffs. Democrats have been hesitant to join the “defund” movement, and Republicans have indicated it’s a nonstarter for them

Speaking of polls: a new Union-Tribune/10 News survey finds that Republican Darrell Issa leading Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar by double digits in the 50th Congressional District race. Polls conducted earlier in the year put the two at a statistical tie. 

Teachers, Other Employees Offered Early Retirement

San Diego Unified School District officials are offering early retirement packages to veteran teachers and other employees, including school police, willing to leave by the end of year.

The financial incentives on the table, which involve a deposit into the employee’s health savings account, come amid the pandemic, as the district is looking for ways to cut costs. Yet cost-cutting isn’t always the district’s goal.

Ashly McGlone reports that retirement deals offered in 2017 still cost $16 million annually, but the retirements allowed the district to rescind more than 1,200 layoff notices for more junior employees. “And with the coronavirus having upended all that was normal about public schools, some veteran employees might be eager to leave with a little more financial security,” McGlone writes.

Another benefit for the workers: Unlike normal incentives, this one does not get taxed.

Corrections: An earlier version of this post contained two errors. Itmisidentified the union Sabrina Hahnlein represents. She is a spokeswoman for the district’s office-technical and business services employees. It also misstated the maximum amount of the incentive; it is $75,000.

Union Pushes Back Hard Against Tentative January Reopening

On Tuesday, San Diego Unified leaders announced schools are tentatively planning to re-open on Jan. 4. But the teachers union sent out an email later that day making it clear the union may not allow that to happen. 

“Future phases cannot begin or be implemented without first bargaining with [union] members. News stories related to the district’s press release today make it sound as if phase two will begin on Jan. 4, after the Winter Break. As educators, we want to be back in our classrooms with our students once it’s safe enough to do so, not based on arbitrary dates that aren’t guided by both science and educator input,” the email to union members read. 

All five of San Diego Unified’s board members have been supported by the teachers union. Historically, the board has shown no appetite for publicly questioning the unions demands. 

During their announcement Tuesday, board members presented several qualifying factors that would prevent the district from opening, such as widespread prevalence of the virus, as well as a lack of testing. Board members said they expected the number of cases to increase in the coming months. In fact, weekly coronavirus numbers showed the prevalence of the virus decreased during the last week.  

Here’s One Reason Teachers Are Worried

The Vista Unified School District went back to in-person learning last week and there are now several confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 at various school sites. More than 400 students and nearly two dozen staff have been forced into a 14-day quarantine.

Kayla Jimenez breaks down the timeline of events in the North County Report and writes that the school will pivot to the virtual learning model used during the month of September. Students and teachers are expected to return to the classroom Nov. 9

The Vista Teachers Association, in the meantime, submitted a complaint arguing that the district failed to adequately establish social distancing in classrooms and didn’t have an appropriate plan for contact tracing and testing. 

Restrictions on Asylum Are Changing Who Crosses the Border

The Trump administration has long tried to limit asylum, but the coronavirus has effectively brought it to a halt. Since March, those who enter the U.S. illegally – or between ports of entry — are immediately expelled to Mexico within hours, with no chance to plead for asylum.

Those dynamics have also changed who is trying to cross the border illegally, the Associated Press reports.

“The suspension of asylum combined with the introduction of ‘express deportations,’ as migrants call them, accelerated a shift in who’s crossing the border illegally: more Mexican men coming for economic reasons and far fewer from Central America, Africa and elsewhere seeking asylum,” the Associated Press finds.

A new lawsuit challenging the Migrant Protection Protocols, which require asylum-seekers to await their asylum proceedings in Mexico, was filed in California Wednesday, arguing that the program is designed to ensure that as many asylum-seekers as possible are deported rather than protected, the Union-Tribune reports.

In Other News

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

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