Morning Report: Tribes Want Their Water Back - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Tribes Want Their Water Back

Trump's visit makes us momentarily grateful for local government, a statewide housing plan splits would-be allies and more in our daily news roundup.
The federal government found water for tribes in San Diego by lining part of the All-American Canal, which begins at the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River. / Photo by Ry Rivard

Water is king in the west. Getting more of it is a difficult and convoluted process.

But what if you used to have it, and it was taken?

For 50 years, five tribes in North County have petitioned Congress and the courts to reclaim a steady source of water early settlers took and obliterated. In May 2017, a deal was finally struck.

Just when the matter appeared to be resolved, San Diego County Water Authority officials dragged everyone back into court, arguing tribes needed to put up more money.

Voice’s Ry Rivard has more of the details and the history of the dispute in a new piece. “When Escondido and Vista took the San Luis Rey River, they also took the tribes’ chance to develop economically,” he wrote.

In the meantime, the tribes have been pumping water from the ground to survive.

Reese Jarrett Is Officially Out

The president of the city’s embattled downtown development agency was out the door, one week after abruptly announcing his resignation last month.

Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt reports that Civic San Diego president Reese Jarrett is now on paid administrative leave as agency officials grapple with controversy surrounding the agency’s future. His last day in the office was March 9.

Civic officials said they’re still working out the terms of Jarrett’s retirement — and whether Jarrett will even be replaced.

Negotiations continue in an ongoing lawsuit that could force an overhaul at the agency that’s faced criticism from unions and left-leaning advocates since it was created in 2012.

The Trump Effect

At our recent donor appreciation event, Mayor Kevin Faulconer made several jokes at our expense.

Had the Voice of San Diego covered the Hindenburg disaster, he said, the next day’s headline would have been, “Blimp Disaster Sets Mode-Share Goals Back a Century.”

The fall of communism: “Reagan Orders Wall Demolition Without Environmental Review.”

Apollo 11: “U.S. Settles for Moon Rather Than Mars.”

Although we love the city and sincerely wish it well, no one who reads our coverage — as the mayor knows — would accuse us of being boosters for the people in charge.

But that’s exactly the position Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts found themselves in this week. Donald Trump has that effect on people.

In response to the president’s claim that major California cities are “totally out of control,” Lewis and Keatts dedicated the opening portion of their weekly podcast watercooler discussion to the good things here.

On the second of the show, they talked to Antonio Martinez, who’s running for City Council District 8, the seat being vacated by David Alvarez. A resident of San Ysidro, Martinez spoke of feeling disconnected from the rest of the city’s resources.

“I really want to make sure we get our fair share,” he said. “District 8 has been short-changed by the city of San Diego, historically.”

And with that, our skepticism was restored.

Let’s Talk About the Sewage

Trump presence in San Diego drew protest. Assembly Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher said his “hateful rhetoric and discriminatory actions” were making the lives of immigrants and refugees harder.

She was one of at least two Democrats who thought the president had missed a real opportunity to talk about what San Diego really needs. That is, a stop to the flow of wastewater and raw sewage from the Tijuana River Valley. Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego recently filed a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to contain pollution, and state Sen. Ben Hueso has called on California to join the plaintiffs.

Also in this week’s Sacramento Report, Voice contributor Marisa Agha rounds up the candidates for Assembly and Senate offices. The filing period for the June 5 primary has closed, and nearly all the incumbents are running again for election.

The exception is Joel Anderson, who’s termed out. He took a pass on Duncan Hunter’s congressional seat and is instead seeking the state Board of Equalization.

Former Republican Assemblyman Brian W. Jones wants Anderson’s senate seat, and so does Democrat Jeff Griffith, a paramedic, and Libertarian businessman Antonio Salguero.

The Wall as Policy

Trump’s promise to build a 30-foot wall along the U.S.-Mexico border clearly made an impression on conservative voters. But is it a good policy?

Lawrence Herzog’s unwavering response: No. The San Diego State professor echoed state lawmakers and others in a new op-ed, arguing that the approximately $20 billion would be better spent on cross-border infrastructure that boosts trade.

There is a $1 billion shortage of funds for the ports of entry alone. Anther $10 billion is needed for highway linkages to the California border.

“The southwest borderland is a rich interconnected space that links vibrant cultures and the robust economies that surround it,” Herzog wrote. “The best foreign policy along our southern border is for the U.S. and Mexico to better broker the mutual advantages we already share.”

 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 115 people during a three-day operation in San Diego, KPBS reported. It was the third California operation in about a month.

Housing Plan Splits Would-Be Allies

California lawmakers, led by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, want to clear away regulations that prevent more homes along transit routes. It’s part of a long-term push to reduce carbon footprints. Yet, one of the biggest opponents of that effort is the Sierra Club.

The influential environmental group, according to the New York Times, has made parts of its progressive mission the retrofitting of urban communities. In this case, however, the environmentalists fear that Wiener’s proposal could cause a backlash and displace low-income residents. “In a state where debates often involve shades of blue, it’s not uncommon for the like-minded to find themselves at odds,” the Times reported Friday.

A similar tension — over the future of the urban landscape — is playing out in San Diego’s Democratic circles. Just last month, Wiener spoke to the new San Diego YIMBY Democratic Club, and three protesters interrupted him, waving signs.

YIMBY stands for “yes in my backyard,” if you’re unfamiliar, and is the opposite of the anti-development types you typically hear so much about. Maya Rosas recently introduced us to the group and laid out its ideas in an op-ed.

In Other News

A San Diego federal grand jury indicted the executives of a Canadian-based encrypted messaging service, alleging the company was enabling drug traffickers. According to the Associated Press, one of the cases under investigation took place in San Diego, so the local FBI field office and U.S. Attorney’s Office led the international effort. It appears to be tied to a former USC football player who’s currently serving time in jail.

San Diego police chief David Nisleit said he didn’t authorize a program aimed at motivating officers by awarding points based on the size of the drug bust. (NBC 7)

Former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs will not be re-nominated to the board at next week’s shareholder meeting. The company’s announcement came shortly after reports Jacobs was attempting to take the company his father founded private. The Trump administration recently blocked a hostile takeover of Qualcomm by a Singapore-based company. (Union-Tribune, Times of San Diego)

U-T columnist Michael Smolens considers Rep. Scott Peters’ ability, as a moderate Democrat, to make the military, academic and tech interests in his district happy and stave off serious contenders.

Imperial Beach is considering an outdoor gym that’ll allow people to track their workouts against others across the nation. (Union-Tribune)

NBC presented a map of the 28 highway pedestrian bridges deemed “structurally deficit,” meaning safe to use but in need of repairs.

Top Stories of the Week

1. Border Patrol May Stop Handing Over Criminal Suspects to Local Law Enforcement

In a little-noticed statement, the San Diego leader of the Border Patrol tried to explain what was wrong with California’s new laws restricting what local law enforcement could do to cooperate with federal immigration agents. He also said long-standing task forces and joint operations have fallen apart. (Maya Srikrishnan)

2. San Diego Needs to Build Way More Housing — and Local Leaders Are Freaked

State officials are poised to demand San Diego County build a lot more housing. Local leaders are already listing all the reasons it’ll be difficult. (Lisa Halverstadt)

3. California Cannabis Finds a Market in Mexico

Middle-class Mexicans and Americans living in Tijuana are buying legal pot in California and taking it to Mexico. The culture of legalization, slowly but surely, may be spreading south of the border now, too. (Maya Srikrishnan)

4. Tormented by a Student’s Sexual Assault, a Teacher Falls

A special education student was sexually assaulted by a classmate at Lincoln High. The victim’s mother says she wasn’t given the full story right away. The school’s response tormented a teacher at the school. (Mario Koran)

5. Politics Report: Major Labor Drama

The Working Families Council, a coalition of labor unions formed as a breakaway from the Labor Council, is facing a crisis as it prepares to announce support for Lori Saldaña for supervisor. Plus, DeMaio’s out, and the left has taken aim at influential but overlooked agencies throughout the county. (Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts)

To view the rest of the list, go here.

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