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Morning Report: The Mayor’s Race Just Got Real

Barbara Bry talks with Todd Gloria and David Alvarez during the opening of her campaign headquarters in San Diego. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

It feels like the mayor’s race began in earnest on Tuesday.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry sent out a campaign email to drum up support for her mayoral bid with the subject line “They’re coming for our homes.” 

It was the clearest attempt yet, Scott Lewis writes, to drum up fear surrounding the push to build more homes in order to address California’s housing crisis. The email went on to chastise Assemblyman Todd Gloria (though Bry never called him out by name) for seeking, and securing, the endorsement of the YIMBY Dems of San Diego, a group that advocates for more home-building. 

The email drew quick and angry rebukes from many young, progressive Democrats, including the chair of the local Democratic Party.

Bry told Lewis in an email that she simply objects to intrusion into local decisions. 

“This is not about simplistic labels like NIMBY or YIMBY. I’m a strong supporter of the City’s Climate Action Plan and favor increased density along transportation corridors, but I believe these decisions should be made locally, by local elected officials, not by Sacramento politicians,” she said in a written statement.

But, as Lewis notes, Bry wrote in a Voice of San Diego op-ed in 2016 that some of the solutions to the housing crisis would have to come from the state.

Reforms in state planning laws would ensure more efficient local land use practices and simpler environmental reviews for affordable housing,” she wrote.

Prosecutors: Hunter Had Affairs With Lobbyists

Federal prosecutors’ savage undoing of Rep. Duncan Hunter continued this week, as a new court filing goes into deal about Hunter’s alleged intimate relationships with women who are not his wife, including lobbyists and congressional staffers.

A new court filing says that shortly after Hunter was elected to the seat once held by his father, he began to spend campaign funds on these relationships. To be clear, this means he was taking money from his campaign – donated by employees at major corporations like General Atomics, AT&T, BAE Systems and others – to fund his personal dalliances, according to prosecutors and campaign finance records.

In early 2010, for instance, he used campaign funds to pay for a $351 rental car on a Friday, drove to a resort near Lake Tahoe, paid for a $7 Sam Adams beer with campaign funds, then checked out on Monday after racking up a $1,008 hotel tab while staying with a female lobbyist and ordering room service, among other expenses.

Likewise, in 2012, during the Republican Party’s national convention in Florida, where the party adopted a platform making clear gay people should not be allowed to marry because marriage between a man and a woman is “the foundation of our society,” Hunter again cheated on his wife by beginning a romatic relationship with a congressional staffer, the filing contends. “Over time,” prosecutors wrote, “their relationship grew more serious.” 

The filing shows how much the U.S. attorney’s office is fed up with Hunter’s attacks.

In his own court filing Monday, Hunter attempted to get his case thrown out by arguing that prosecutors were politically motivated against him because of his support for President Donald Trump.

Speaking of High-Profile Trials With Ties to Hunter …

A war crimes trial in San Diego entered its second week of testimony. Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL, is accused of stabbing and murdering a wounded teenage detainee who’d been brought to him for medical treatment in Iraq.

The murder case is garnering national attention, in part because of Hunter, who said he, too, has killed civilians, likely women and children, in battle. There’ve also been a number of head-spinning revelations during the trial.

Last week, another SEAL testified that he, not Gallagher, was responsible for the boy’s death. Corey Scott, a first class petty officer and medic, said he asphyxiated the boy — after Gallagher stabbed him — to spare him from being tortured by Iraqi security forces, the U-T reports.

Prosecutors seemed caught off guard by their star witness. They’d granted immunity to Scott in exchange for his testimony, and they now suggest he lied on the stand to save his boss. But it’s unlikely that either military or federal authorities will charge Scott with murder, the Navy Times reports.

Oh yeah, and there was a whole side plot about how Navy investigators had aggressively targeted leakers in the case and violated Gallagher’s rights in the process. A judge complained that the prosecution had created a crisis of public confidence in military justice, the U-T reports.

You should really be following this case. 

Pure Water Up in the Air Amid Labor Dispute

A project that is supposed to eventually provide a third of the city’s drinking water is now held up in court because of a dispute between anti-union contractors and a union-friendly city government.

The city was about to open bids from contractors who want to work on the Pure Water project, which will take sewage and make it drinkable. But the Associated General Contractors of America sued, arguing that the City Council had illegally limited work on the project to union-friendly contractors. In 2012, voters approved a ballot measure, Proposition A, which said the city cannot require union-friendly contracts, though there are some exceptions. 

Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled this week that the contractors are likely to prevail in their case. So, he halted bidding, resulting in what is now an indefinite delay for the Pure Water project.

Campland Expands

Campland on the Bay, the recreational vehicle park near Mission Bay, is expanding its footprint thanks to a Monday City Council vote.

The Council authorized a new lease that allows the owners of Campland to manage a mobile home park adjacent to its already-existing RV park. Campland agreed to clean up the dilapidated mobile home area in return for rent credit from the city, KPBS reported.

Environmentalists, including the local Audubon Society, opposed the lease extension, saying it could delay by years an effort to clean up and restore Mission Bay.

George Courser of the Sierra Club’s San Diego chapter said the city has lost sight of its priorities by focusing on these parks rather than on truly restoring the bay.

“This is not a resource up for the highest bidder,” the Union-Tribune quoted him as saying. “The city has lost sight of the priorities.”

Killin’ it With Kindness

TranscenDANCE is an annual summer program serving the region’s underserved. It provides free tuition, meals and rides for youth and in years past, its leaders have encouraged students to open up about their trauma and use that in their art.

This time around, Julia Dixon Evans writes in the Culture Report, the program is focusing on hope and kindness — so that the students might become the change they want to see in the world. 

“There’s certainly vulnerability in writing and sharing these stories because they are so personal, so that is not different,” the program’s executive artistic director said. “But what I’m noticing is this very clear sisterly love.” 

In Other News

San Diego County supervisor passed a budget Tuesday that expands county staffing and services, and separately committed $23.8 million to expand mental health and substance abuse care, including emergency response teams and crisis centers. “Our new budget is fiscally prudent, while still maintaining our strong reserves and adding positions to much-needed services,” said Supervisor Jim Desmond on Twitter. (KPBS) 

Jazzercise is 50 years old, and The Atlantic considers how the fitness craze changed the way American women work out — for better or for worse. It all started with a woman teaching classes out of rec centers in Oceanside. We recounted the company’s formation and history with its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett, in a 2017 podcast.

An outside consulting firm will help National City draft an ordinance that could legalize marijuana businesses — and establish a new tax to fund the program — by the end of year. (Union-Tribune) 

California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins is asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for help as negotiations between Congress and the White House continue. Atkins wants more funding for state and local agencies that work with new immigrants. 

A group of Imperial Beach homeowners are trying to stop a plan to install public bathrooms and showers. (10News) 

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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