VOSD Podcast: The DA Takes All Our Questions - Voice of San Diego

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VOSD Podcast: The DA Takes All Our Questions

District Attorney Summer Stephan sat down for an in-depth interview with hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts to talk about her priorities as the region's top law enforcement official, and to answer a wide range of questions.
district attorney summer stephan
San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan has made some shifts in the office’s focuses. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The number of prescription drug and other opioid-related deaths in San Diego County are on the rise. Human trafficking has long been a problem in San Diego.

Those are two of the big issues that have the attention of the district attorney’s office.

In this week’s podcast, District Attorney Summer Stephan sat down for an in-depth interview with hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts to talk about her priorities as the region’s top law enforcement official, and to answer a wide range of questions.

Stephen, who’s running to keep her seat, talks about her approach to plea offers and who should benefit from them. She shares her thoughts on an impending endorsement from an influential reform-minded political action committee, discusses her distaste for partisan politics, shares her ideas for keeping immigration enforcement separate from the work of the DA, explains her shift on marijuana enforcement and more.

And in the most detail she’s provided to the public yet, Stephan explained why she recused herself from the investigation of City Councilman Chris Cate for his disclosure of a confidential city attorney’s memo related to the SoccerCity proposal to redevelop the stadium site in Mission Valley.

Stephan said that, while she felt her office could have conducted the investigation fairly, she passed it to the attorney general to prevent even the public perception of a conflict for a few reasons. The biggest issue, she said, was that her campaign treasurer April Boling has been an outspoken proponent of the SoccerCity proposal.

“I look at it as, are people going to have confidence in this decision,” Stephan said. “Are they going to have trust? Are they going to think about it? And that’s one of the things that I considered in addition to talking with the attorney general’s office. And I think we both reached the conclusion that that was the right decision.”

Also on the podcast, Lewis and Keatts talk about the difference between bikes and homeless people.

If homeless people block public sidewalks with their stuff, they can get ticketed by police officers. But the fleets of shareable bikes being left in the public right-of-way don’t suffer the same fate. A recent report by VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt brings up a valid question: What is the legally defensible distinction between bikes and homeless people? If officers are giving encroachment citations to homelessness people, shouldn’t the bike owners be ticketed, too?

And a quote in Lewis and Keatts’ Politics Report by former Navy SEAL Josh Butner, a Democrat running to represent California’s 50th District, caused quite a stir. Butner said military service should be a prerequisite for running for political office. A U-T reporter picked up on the comment and ran a story. Other journos followed suit.

Hero of the Week

Michael Turko is retiring. He’s our hero this week. After 20 years at KUSI, where he became known as a reporter who stood up for the little guy and investigated cases in which San Diegans felt they’ve been wronged, Turko announced his retirement this week. Check out this interview we did with Turko on the podcast.

Goat of the Week

The local cities that can hardly wait to delete their records are the goat this week. California law requires cities to keep emails for a minimum of two years, but half of the cities in San Diego County delete most of their emails from city servers in much less time. That ain’t right.

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