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Morning Report: SANDAG Chief Says Past Board Consensus Was a Lie

Hasan Ikhrata is the new executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Once upon a time, the various regional leaders who sit on the SANDAG board would – despite representing different cities and political parties and various competing interests – somehow walk into the SANDAG board room and all be on the same page, and vote in lockstep.

Now that Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata is at the helm, that unity is gone. And Ikhrata says it was fake all along.

Ikhrata’s new plan for the region’s transportation future has exposed deep tensions on the board.

In a new piece analyzing the rift, which was marked by two separate confrontations with board members last week, Andrew Keatts details why leaders from North County and East County are making their frustrations public, and why Ikhrata says that’s actually a good thing.

“By design or accident,” Keatts writes, Ikhrata is “remaking the role of SANDAG director, from behind-the-scenes consensus builder to bold iconoclast, to the same degree that he’s proposed reimagining the transit system.”

City Council Backs Major State Police Reform

The San Diego City Council voted Tuesday to support AB 392, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to raise the standard by which police officers can justify using deadly force.

The non-binding resolution will mean the city of San Diego is listed as a supporter of the bill as the state Legislature contemplates it, but otherwise won’t have any immediate effect.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, who proposed the resolution, thanked the dozens of residents who came to Council to urge support, and asked that her colleagues take seriously the emotional stories many of them recounted.

“I’m happy to make a stand for the city on a statewide issue,” she said.

The other five Democrats on the Council all voted to support the resolution. Councilman Scott Sherman said he was voting against it “reluctantly,” because he opposes all non-binding resolutions on state or federal issues. Councilman Mark Kersey also voted against the measure, and Councilman Chris Cate was absent.

Mayor Announces Budget Revisions

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced a series of budget tweaks on Tuesday to, among other priorities, invest in infrastructure repairs in Balboa Park, enforce new dockless vehicle rules, support mobility projects and create a pilot program to help police officers buy homes in the city.

Faulconer penciled another $6.7 million in proposed expenses in the city’s proposed $4.2 billion budget, additions that the Times of San Diego noted were bolstered by a $4.9 million surplus.

Faulconer also took a separate step to direct $9.3 million that had been set to be invested in the now-defunct Plaza de Panama overhaul in Balboa Park to maintenance needs in the iconic park. The announcement came a week after City Councilman Chris Ward and park advocates urged the mayor to use the cash to support other projects, including restroom repairs.

A Faulconer spokeswoman said Tuesday that his team had yet to settle on specific projects but planned to focus on priority capital upgrades including bathrooms and roof repairs.

A Playwright’s Turn to Poetry

With a title like “Patricide,” it’s unsurprising that poet and playwright Dave Harris’ new book of poetry explores some seriously dark themes, including revenge and death.

But, as Julia Dixon Evans writes in this week’s Culture Report, there are also moments throughout the book of levity and life: “Through the middle sections of the book, Harris explores co-existing with his mother and his family, the community, with academics and with white people. He explores love and intimacy, and in this way, the poems disarm. Harris disarms.”

Harris talked with Dixon Evans about his approach to writing about race, family, introspection and much more: “Nothing was done to me to make me be this way. I’m choosing to be this way which I think is kind of like a source of power but also a source of reckoning.”

Harris is hosting a reading of his new play at UCSD just days after his first book is released.

In Other News

San Diego County Fair Food Offerings Have Finally Gone Too Far

Every year, news outlets post previews of some of the outrageous food offerings at the San Diego County Fair. You know the drill: They found a way to incorporate donuts into hamburgers, or waffles into a pizza or how to deep-fry a beverage.

But this year, they’ve gone too far. It’s an abomination, really.

I’m talking about this NBC San Diego gallery of dishes you can find at the fair this year. They include … prepare yourself … a summer salad “featuring local greens, summer corn, avocado, blue cheese, bell pepper, shredded carrots, and blackberry shallot vinaigrette.”

You heard me.

The madness doesn’t end there.

There are also vegan Mediterranean-inspired stuffed grape leaves.

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt.

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