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Morning Report: RIP, Plaza de Panama Plan

San Diego Museum of Man

The San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Philanthropists who have for years pushed for a major Balboa Park overhaul have officially backed away from their years-long campaign to clear cars from the park’s central mesa.

The Plaza de Panama Committee led by Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs notified the city on Thursday that it would end its public-private agreement with the city to make the project a reality, our Lisa Halverstadt reports.

The decision follows higher-than-expected construction bids and a cold reception from City Councilman Chris Ward, who represents the area. The committee had recently scrambled to try to cobble together a pared-back initial phase of the Plaza de Panama project in hopes of getting the controversial project to the finish line. Ward wasn’t into the idea.

The death of the Plaza de Panama project is likely to spur discussion about the city’s longstanding struggle to pull in major donations for a crumbling park with a long list of needs.

Air & Space Museum CEO Jim Kidrick, a member of the Plaza de Panama Committee, said Thursday he feared the death of the project could give future philanthropists pause. The city doesn’t have major success stories to share, he said.

“It benefits our community when they can see visibly when projects like this (that) are complete, that you have success,” Kidrick said.

Others including Bruce Coons of Save Our Heritage Organisation, a group that fought the project for years, say they hope the city and park leaders will use the situation as a lesson to better establish park needs and work with philanthropists on projects with broad community support.

Teachers Union Calls for Beiser Resignation

The San Diego Education Association, the teachers union for the San Diego Unified School District, has officially called for Trustee Kevin Beiser’s resignation.

“Mr. Beiser should be given every opportunity to defend himself against these allegations,” said Kisha Borden, SDEA’s president, in a press release. “However, the seriousness of the allegations and the need to fully investigate them makes it impossible for the students, educators and families of San Diego Unified District B to have any confidence in his ability to represent them. We hope Mr. Beiser chooses to do the right thing and steps down as a school board member immediately.”

Four men detailed to Voice of San Diego unwanted sexual conduct they experienced from Beiser. One of them has filed a lawsuit outlining his allegations. Beiser issued a brief statement proclaiming his innocence but has otherwise stayed silent.

SDEA, which had endorsed Beiser’s re-election campaigns, joins a host of other former Beiser allies calling on him to step down. The Democratic Party, the San Diego Unified school board and a group of other LGBTQ electeds have all done the same.

How Porter Elementary Got Its Name

In this week’s Learning Curve, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry talks to the daughter of Porter Elementary School’s namesake, who said that the school’s struggles – which Huntsberry detailed last week – would  have her father “turning in his grave.” Huntsberry sheds light on how the school came to be named after Porter, which itself is a story “rooted in [the school’s] difficulty to thrive.”

Also in the Learning Curve: San Diego Unified board members decided to revisit their decision to force people who want to comment at board meetings on issues other than those on the official agenda to wait hours until the end of each meeting. After reconsidering, the board stuck with its original decision to make people wait.

Most of So-Called ‘Sanctuary’ Laws Upheld

On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of three laws passed by the state of California intended to buffer federal immigration enforcement in the state.

The laws include the California Values Act, or SB 54, which created a firewall between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement. Two other laws dealt with workplace immigration enforcement, which has been on the rise, and California’s ability to oversee federal immigration detention centers located in the states.

The 9th Circuit did conclude, however, that one part of a law allowing California officials to conduct inspections at immigration detention facilities “impermissibly burdens the federal government” and was thus struck down. The provision would have allowed California officials to examine the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of immigration detainees.

In Other News

Correction

Wednesday’s North County Report cited an old policy when describing Poway’s email retention practices. The city now keeps emails for two years.

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

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