Morning Report: The Rise of Reform California

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Morning Report: The Rise of Reform California

Carl DeMaio Reopen San Diego Gavin Newsom
Carl DeMaio speaks at a rally to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Reform California is a conservative political advocacy organization created several years ago by former San Diego councilman turned talk show host Carl DeMaio. And over the past five years, it has built its warchest from $26,000 to $650,000.  

But as Andrew Keatts reports, some conservatives think DeMaio has lost his credibility

“It’s a promote-Carl organization,” observed one political operative who used to work closely with DeMaio. 

Keatts writes: “DeMaio has a knack for guiding [the organization] to the issues at the center of the state’s conservative movement.” 

While the organization operates within the legal guidelines, some conservatives don’t think donors are getting what they meant to pay for. 

“Now, here he is reporting $600,000 in receipts, raised on the backs of kind-hearted conservative donors who I think have been misled,” said Jim Lacy, a lawyer whose firm focuses on election and nonprofit law focused on political advocacy. “I’m happy to say misled, because I don’t mean in a legal sense – I mean it in a moral sense. I’m sure most money goes where it’s promised, but more than a margin of error has been held back, and has been diverted to pet projects and issues important to DeMaio.”

DeMaio’s group has been engaged in gathering signatures for the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. But a separate recall group, which is actually authorized to submit signatures to the state, didn’t even use what Reform California submitted because they said the forms were not filled out correctly. 

DA Shuts Down Civil Gang Injunctions

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced that she’s effectively ended civil gang injunctions with the support of agencies across the region. She said she’d filed petitions in court to lift the injunctions still in place after listening to communities and police and determining that those individuals did not pose a threat.

She also acknowledged that the injunctions — stretching back decades in some cases — caused hardship for people who were trying to get a job or connect with relatives. Injunctions are permanent restraining orders and challenging one wasn’t easy or commonplace.

Mayor Todd Gloria advocated for the elimination of gang injunctions as part of a larger police reform package. “It is the right thing to do and gives hundreds of San Diegans an opportunity to live without the fear a stale accusation could hurt their chances for good-paying jobs, education, and housing,” he said in a statement.

Police have long maintained that gang injunctions are a useful way of controlling where people can go, what colors they can wear and how late they can stay out. But by shutting down gang injunctions, Stephan’s words and legal actions confirm what criminal justice advocates have also long maintained.

Jamie Wilson, an organizer with Pillars of the Community, argued in an op-ed last year that most crimes committed by documented gang members are really crimes of poverty and that gang injunctions do not keep communities safe. Some hadn’t even been convicted of a misdemeanor. But some were forced to stay away from family members and avoid “target areas,” which might include an apartment complex.

Wilson wrote: “Men were forced to abandon their children, relationships and marriages failed, generations were changed and the emotional health of the outcast individual suffered.”

In a statement, City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe noted that similar injunctions do not exist for white supremacists and hate groups. “Eliminating gang injunctions is a necessary step on the long road to reimagining public safety and equity in law enforcement,” she said. 

Sweetwater Gets New Permanent Superintendent

Sweetwater Union High School District’s interim superintendent Moisés Aguirre has been appointed to fill the position permanently, the Union-Tribune reported.  

Aguirre, unlike most superintendents, does not hold a teaching credential. He previously worked on Sweetwater’s business services side of the administration. 

Aguirre was appointed interim after Sweetwater’s last superintendent Karen Janney was fired in September. Janney presided over a $30 million budget hole, first exposed by Voice of San Diego, that administrators covered up for more than a year. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Sweetwater, and state investigators found top administrators may have committed fraud

Some Sweetwater parents were opposed to Aguirre’s appointment and said the school board never made a good-faith effort to look for other candidates. Board members voted 3-1 in favor of his appointment. 

In Other News

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

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