What We Learned This Week - Voice of San Diego

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What We Learned This Week

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Kevin Faulconer / Photos by Megan Wood and Adriana Heldiz

This week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer turned his long-running flirtation with a run for governor into high gear.

He told the Los Angeles Times he’s “of course” considering running and Politico that he’s “seriously considering running.”

So far, the basis for his potential campaign seems to be that Democrats in general, and Gov. Gavin Newsom in particular, are bad. That’s a perspective widely shared by other Republicans. But since California is overwhelmingly Democratic, Faulconer will likely need to give some of those Democrats more if he wants to win them over. Sure, he’s against Democrats, and the COVID-19 restrictions they’ve imposed and the high-profile labor law they voted for. But what is he actually for?

That is something that, despite several years in office, Faulconer has so far failed to articulate.

He’s been remarkably, confoundingly silent on issue after issue that has come before the city.

On a number of urgent, high-profile instances involving the police, including its leaders’ refusal to release body-camera footage of contentious incidents, numerous findings showing SDPD officers racially profile Black residents and the revelation that its crime lab had watered down rape kit testing standards, he said nothing – let alone advocated for a different outcome.

On homelessness, Faulconer himself admitted that he hadn’t been a leader. It got to the point where even wealthy business leaders, arguably Faulconer’s core constituency, started speaking out against his lack of leadership.

On vacation rentals, he did nothing as the problem festered.

President Barack Obama is currently on a media tour of his own, and he’s admitted that he regrets tempering his voice while in office. In an excerpt of his book, the president said, “I’ve had to ask myself whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth as I saw it, too cautious in either word or deed.” (Spoiler: He was.) Maybe Faulconer will speak up more once he’s done, too.

Of course, it would be nice if leaders would, you know, lead while they’re actually in office.

That brings us to Faulconer’s successor, Mayor-elect Todd Gloria.

Gloria has told us, the New York Times and others that he wants San Diego to embrace its status as a big city. To be a place where boldness and vision win the day.

One way to help ensure that happens is for Gloria himself to embrace the awesome power that comes with his office and speak out on consequential issues, even if they’re not ones the mayor has a direct role in deciding.

What does Gloria think should happen at the border, for example? Sure, many of those decisions are out of his hands, but the mayor of San Diego should be able to articulate what the city that must live with those decisions would like to see.

On Friday, a judge sided with San Diego County in our lawsuit to compel the county to release data on where COVID-19 outbreaks are happening. Part of our dispute hinges on our differing interpretations of a state law Gloria wrote as a result of the county’s last bad handling of a public health crisis.

I asked Gloria to weigh in on the county’s use of the legislation as a means to keep the information private. And something weird happened. He … did.

“There may be reasons why the County feels it’s in the public interest to withhold this information, but I don’t agree with them using my legislation, intended and designed to increase transparency, as a means to limit transparency,” he wrote.

I hope that going forward, Gloria and everyone in a position of power learns from Faulconer’s tenure that saying nothing on matters of public importance and hoping no one notices is never a good look.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Andy Keatts traced Georgette Gómez’s rise and fall from environmental justice activist to the most powerful Democrat in the county, to someone who’ll soon be out of a job. But in another surprising election outcome, Trustee Kevin Beiser appears likely to keep his job despite the fact that voters approved a process to remove school board officials after Beiser’s colleagues lamented that there was no way to remove him from the position following accusation of harassment and assault.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe is hoping to take Gómez’s place as Council president – we talked about the race on the podcast, and interviewed Montgomery Steppe.

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San Diego County officials are still fighting efforts to make COVID-19 data public.

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Several water agencies are wary of San Diego’s dream of spending bajillions of dollars to build a pipeline to deliver Colorado River water next to … an existing pipeline that delivers Colorado River water.

That pipeline wouldn’t bring any new water to the region. But another plan could: Two companies – one in the United States and one in Mexico – want to treat Tijuana River water and make it drinkable.

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A judge temporarily halted Border Patrol’s ongoing arrests of immigrants at the federal courthouse.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“A great many Americans are only concerned with fairness when they think someone else might get something they won’t get. And they are seething with resentment as they imagine a country in which we help one another. It’s appalling, that this is where we are … that this is who we are.” – The controversy over the idea of canceling student debt is, frankly, insane.

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