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Morning Report: San Diego Unified Board Calls for Beiser’s Resignation

Protesters urge San Diego Unified Trustee Kevin Beiser to resign from the board. / Photo by Megan Wood

The San Diego Unified Board of Trustees has officially called on Trustee Kevin Beiser to resign.

The board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday asking him to step away from the board, arguing he was incapable of upholding his responsibilities to the public while defending himself from allegations of sexual misconduct made last month by four men.

“Mr. Beiser’s resignation is the only reasonable course of action,” said Trustee John Lee Evans, who docketed the resolution and said Beiser had abused the expectation that trustees adhere to ethical conduct while in office.

The resolution is non-binding, and the board has no official authority to remove Beiser from office if he chooses to ignore public pressure.

Trustee Mike McQuary said it was important to note that none of the accusers were students or district staffers and credited Beiser for many positive actions on the board, but said it was time to turn the page. Board President Sharon Whitehurst and Trustee Richard Barrera did not speak before voting in favor of the motion.

When the accusations became public, Beiser issued a brief statement declaring his innocence, promising a robust defense and calling the allegations politically motivated. He has not spoken publicly since and did not attend the board hearing. All four of the men who have accused Beiser of misconduct met him through San Diego’s Democratic political world.

Ahead of the hearing, protesters including representatives for both the local Democratic and Republican parties gathered at the district’s headquarters calling on him to resign.

During a press conference following that protest, Francine Maxwell, an activist, said the group would convene after the hearing to plan a recall campaign to remove Beiser from office.

“After the vote today, we will meet together and formalize something,” she said.

  • Monday, we reported that Michael Vu, the county’s registrar of voters, wasn’t sure what rules governed the recall of a San Diego Unified board member, and was still researching the matter. Late Tuesday he responded that to qualify a recall, proponents would need to collect signatures from 15 percent of registered voters within the district as of the last election, or roughly 88,000 signatures. He also pointed out that a board member can’t be recalled until he’s been in office for six months.

SDSU Aiming for Mission Valley Discount

A top official from San Diego State University said Tuesday that the city should reduce the sales price for the old Qualcomm Stadium by millions of dollars.

During the contentious campaign to decide the fate of Mission Valley last fall, SDSU and its boosters repeatedly promised to pay “fair market value” for the old Qualcomm Stadium site. The university wants to construct a new stadium there, create a river park and build more research space and housing.

University officials and boosters have always danced a fine line around a ballot measure voters approved that includes a Catch-22 of legalese. The measure says the city should not pay to demolish the stadium. But the measure also says that the city may give the university a discount for demolishing the stadium, which is essentially a backdoor way of making the city pay to demolish the stadium.

The university’s vice president for financial affairs, Tom McCarron, told the City Council on Tuesday that the university wanted that discount.

The university and the city are negotiating the terms of a deal they both hope to reach by early 2020.

A 2017 estimate says a stadium demolition could cost about $11.5 million.

Estimates of the value of the Mission Valley site have varied widely, from over $200 million to $83 million to $74 million.

McCarron also said the university may want the city to pay for part of the river park SDSU promised to build. Money for the park isn’t supposed to come from the city’s general fund but the city has other funds that could be tapped to pay for the park’s construction or maintenance.

SDSU has been unclear about how it will finance its Mission Valley expansion.

Fire Fight

A group of volunteer firefighters have locked themselves inside a Julian fire station to avoid a legal takeover of the fire department by professional firefighters.

  1. Harry Jones, the Union-Tribune’s man in rural San Diego, broke this wild story which, like so much else, manages to involve public interest attorney and San Diego mayoral candidate Cory Briggs, who is representing the disenchanted volunteer firefighters.

Julian’s fire department was one of, if not the, last fully volunteer fire departments left in San Diego County. Fire departments have gradually been professionalized, especially following the fires of the mid-2000s, which exposed dangerous holes in the county’s fire protection. Now, most of the county’s rural areas are protected by a county fire authority that contracts for firefighters from Cal Fire, the state wildland firefighting agency.

KPBS has photos of the fire station where firefighters were holed up.

San Diego Film Week in the Spotlight

San Diego’s film community has long been struggling to find its footing. The city’s Film Commission, for example, disbanded in 2013, and rebooted it a few years later.

In this week’s Culture Report, Julia Dixon Evans spotlights the San Diego Film Consortium’s efforts to build a local film community from the inside out, including via San Diego Film Week, which is set for its third annual run.

“I’m most excited to see all the new faces that are a part of Film Week this year,” said San Diego Film Consortium founder Jodi Cilley. “We are screening so many films from filmmakers that were never part of our events before and that just shows me how much our community is growing.”

The Day in Robot News

Technology can tackle virtually any problem, and now that includes rhinos’ “bizarrely complicated reproductive system[s].”

Enter the San Diego Zoo and robotics experts at UC San Diego, who’ve teamed up to create — there’s no easy way to say this — “a snakelike robot to navigate that chaotic cervix and deposit an embryo in the uterus,” reports Wired.

Naturally, the project is being crowdfunded.

Meanwhile, a San Diego-based startup is working on “an in-store autonomous delivery robot” that could eventually perform tasks inside retail stores and in warehouses.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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