Morning Report: SANDAG Chief Shocks Board with Frank Assessment - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: SANDAG Chief Shocks Board with Frank Assessment

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One of the first things the new leader of the San Diego Association of Governments, Hasan Ikrhata, did was acknowledge the agency would not be able to meet its regular requirement to produce a long-term plan for regional transportation.

But last week, to a shocked board room, he went further. He said the region simply can’t meet state requirements for thwarting climate change the way things are and the way they’re headed. Even if the region built the trolley lines and bus services leaders have talked about, it would not change enough.

The agency either needs to convince state leaders to change the law or completely reimagine how people will move around the San Diego region in coming decades. And that means back to the drawing board for the regional transportation plan. And that means a delay of two years and that, well, that means millions in state and federal dollars are in jeopardy.

It was an extraordinary moment for an agency that has been through extraordinary change in the last two years.

The Battle Over the Gig Economy Runs Through San Diego (and Strip Clubs)

San Diego is at the center of an ongoing battle about whether strippers should be classified as employees or independent contractors.

Two important lawsuits in San Diego courts have recently dealt with employment status and damages, while a proposed new law, from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, would likely ensure strippers can only be hired as employees going forward.

As VOSD contributor Lyle Moran writes, one court case last year forced Deja Vu Services Inc., which operates dozens of strip clubs across the country and one in San Diego, to reclassify some 5,800 exotic dancers as employees. A newer suit claims the company retaliated against those workers by drastically cutting their wages.

That latter suit, Moran writes, “could be a harbinger of similar suits to come as companies grapple with how to comply with the California Supreme Court’s 2018 Dynamex decision that makes it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.”

Public Records No One in the Public Can Afford

Eight local police unions are suing their respective agencies to stop the release of officer misconduct files made available this year through the California Legislature. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is not one of them.

Instead, legal advisers to Sheriff Bill Gore are demanding that media outlets pay unprecedented sums to access the files. An initial cost estimate for KPBS totaled $354,524. For Voice of San Diego, it was $246,759.

In letters, sheriff’s officials described the new state law, SB 1421, as an “unfunded mandate” that will require them to hire an employee to help review and redact certain types of information — like confidential sources or civilian witnesses — from the relevant audio and visual files. In justifying the costs, sheriff’s officials pointed to a recent court case that permits a public agency to charge for the work required to produce documents.

But as KPBS reports, that court case is still under review by the California Supreme Court.

After Contentious Year, National City Officials Back to Governing

The National City Fire Department has improved response times thanks to a pilot program in 2017 and 2018 that’s on its way to becoming permanent.

The Union-Tribune reports that emergency responders are using a custom Ford F-550 equipped with advanced medical equipment and other gear, including a 150-gallon water tank, to get to sites more quickly.

City Council members unanimously picked Gonzalo Quintero, a restaurant manager, to fill a vacant seat, the U-T also reports. As we’ve noted on several occasions, National City’s top officials have not been known for their civility. This time around, though, they’ve came together and even offered some pleasantries about the process.

In the meantime, according to the U-T, National School District trustees gave themselves a 5 percent increase in pay. They now get $265 a month as compensation for their time and travels.

The Last Word: San Diego Unified Public Comment Stays at End of Meetings

You may remember San Diego Unified School District caught lots of heat last month for moving its public comment period to the end of board meetings, after Will Huntsberry covered the new policy in the Learning Curve. The policy was widely panned by public speakers, union members and the U-T’s editorial board.

Board trustees had an opportunity to commit to reconsidering their decision last night, but decided not to take it. Trustee Kevin Beiser asked his fellow board members for the commitment, but none would support his motion. For now, board members say they will discuss the item again at an April 16 board governance meeting.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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