Politics Report: Councilwoman Montgomery on Housing, Police and School Reform - Voice of San Diego

Politics UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Politics Report: Councilwoman Montgomery on Housing, Police and School Reform

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery talked about her positions on several high-profile state bills in a special bonus podcast.

Councilwoman Monica Montgomery needs to hear more from Police Chief Dave Nisleit.

A viral video this week showed multiple SDPD officers beating a 20-year-old man named Trenelle Cannon. As scrutiny on the video escalated, Police Chief Dave Nisleit released body-worn camera footage of the altercation and staged a press conference in which he defended the officers’ behavior and described Cannon as violent and dangerous.

Montgomery, during a special bonus episode of the Voice of San Diego podcast, said she was not satisfied with the chief’s response.

“I need to see more,” she said. “I have talked to the chief, I am a bit disturbed about the ‘violent, dangerous’ comments. We don’t use those all the time. I am concerned about the way that we view each other, which in turn has an effect on policing. Yes, I’m working on police reform, but there are larger societal issues that I just think we have to consistently work on.”

White mass shooters, Montgomery said, don’t seem to be described in those same terms.

“Going back to that reference – violent, dangerous – that may have been the case,” she said. “That may have been the perspective. But it also could be the perspective in a lot of other types of crimes and shootings. … I have a concern over that, and that’s something that the chief and I talk about often. I don’t think it’ll be a surprise for him to hear me say that.”

You can listen to the full podcast episode here.

The police-reform agenda: Montgomery spent a lot of time on the campaign trail talking about police-community relations, and ways they could improve. Specifically, she said the Community Review Board on Police Practices should have independent subpoena power to investigate officer-involved shootings. Right now, the board relies on the investigation done by internal affairs.

Montgomery, now the chair of the Council’s committee on public safety, said she’s taking the time pursuing that change, but she’s aiming to put up a ballot measure in 2020 to make it happen.

“I think it’s in the realm of possibility, yes,” she said.

On three big state laws: Montgomery told us where she stood on three state laws affecting housing, education and police reform.

  • Montgomery supports AB 392, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to change police standards for use of deadly force. The Council is voting next week on a resolution to support the bill after Montgomery’s office worked with Council President Georgette Gomez to put it on the docket. “The concept of changing what the standards should be to use deadly force, I’m very much in support of that,” she said.
  • AB 1302, another Weber bill, would change the way board members on the San Diego Unified School District are elected, so only voters in their specific subdistrict have a say, rather than running districtwide as they do now. Weber made it a two-year bill in hopes the City Council would make the change before the state has to intervene. Montgomery said she hopes the Council does just that. “I think the closer somebody is to the community, the better,” she said. “That absolutely has not changed.”
  • Montgomery said her time on a housing-focused committee at SANDAG has made her more receptive to SB 50 than she might have been. It’s the bill that would automatically increase the amount of housing developers can build near transit stations throughout the state, thwarting individual cities that would rather restrict development.

Sitting on the SANDAG committee, she said, has shown her that some cities need to be forced to be more inclusive.

“It’s a very controversial issue that I’ve experienced with my community, and folks are very protective about preserving certain aspects of their areas, and I get that,” she said. “Sometimes, it can turn into a lack of being inclusive of all types of people. … We are very inclusive, and I do think that everyone needs to share that perspective.”

SDSU West Negotiation Update, Kinda

We’re still in the dark on negotiations between the city of San Diego and SDSU over the Mission Valley land voters told the city to sell to the university with Measure G.

You’ll remember there was some consternation at the City Council about the mayor’s choice of a consultant to help the city negotiate the deal. We had heard people in the SDSU universe were worried the city would choose commercial broker Jason Hughes for the job.

Hughes had served on the mayor’s Citizens Stadium Advisory group. That’s the group that had valued just 75 acres of the city’s land in Mission Valley at $225 million. SDSU clearly does not want to pay anything close to that. The university is going to face gigantic bills to prepare the land for development and build a new stadium. It’s looking to get something closer to the $83 million quoted to SoccerCity and perhaps even less than that.

So we requested the bid submissions the city had gotten for the consultant gig. And it turns out Hughes’ firm, Hughes Marino, had indeed bid on the job. Most of the bids were uninteresting but Hughes had this tidbit in his proposed pricing for his services:

Fixed fee paid by the city of San Diego to Hughes Marino for services rendered in consulting services and negotiation of land sale agreement: $1,000

Performance Bonus:

Performance Bonus paid by City of San Diego to Hughes Marino: City to pay Hughes Marino a performance bonus equivalent to 5% of the ultimate sales price above $100,000,000 in value.

Hughes did not get the gig. Jones Lang LaSalle got the job for a cost not to exceed $250,000.

The City Council Enters the Mayoral Race. Finally.

Councilman Chris Ward endorsed Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s mayoral bid Friday, becoming the first member of the Council to endorse in a race that right now includes only Democrats.

There are six Democrats on the Council, and one of them – Councilwoman Barbary Bry – is Gloria’s chief rival right now. None of the other Democrats have waded into the race.

Councilwoman Vivian Moreno was on the podcast this week, and said she hasn’t picked a side yet, but that she’s eager to advocate for her community to both candidates and argued that both of them should want her support. She said she’s looking forward to making a decision.

Montgomery said she hasn’t made a decision yet.

However they line up could make a big difference in the race. Montgomery and Moreno could help deliver a lot of votes to the candidate they back from the heavily Democratic districts they represent. And the concerns of their underserved communities are likely to weigh heavily in a race that could be between two Democrats in November.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the Community Review Board on Police Practices. 

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