/Morning Report: Big Day for San Diego Civic Affairs

Morning Report: Big Day for San Diego Civic Affairs

A view of downtown San Diego / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Two big decisions are happening Tuesday: In one, voters will decide on the fate of politicians. In another, politicians will decide the fate of a vote.

More specifically: It’s special election day in the 79th Assembly District, and the San Diego City Council will weigh in on the fate of Measure C.

The 79th District Assembly special election is happening because the previous Assembly rep, Shirley Weber, was appointed secretary of state by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

One of the candidates running to replace Weber is her daughter, La Mesa City Councilwoman Akilah Weber. The others are Shane Parmely, a San Diego Unified teacher; AFSCME District Council 36 representative Leticia, Generation Justice founder Aeiramique Glass-Blake and businessman Marco Contreras. Weber, Parmely, Munguia and Glass-Blake are Democrats; Contreras is the sole Republican in the race.

Meanwhile, the race has gotten ugly in its closing days. A political committee funded by law enforcement groups that supports Munguia sent out mailers to voters in the district attempting to tie Weber to civil unrest in downtown La Mesa this summer following Black Lives Matter protests there.

The ad showed pictures of buildings on fire – a Campo man has been jailed and accused of arson over the event – with a picture of Weber smiling next to the flames. “Akilah Weber didn’t support our local businesses when they needed her most,” the ad reads.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the local Democratic Party chair, said in a Facebook post that the ad was objectively racist, and urged Munguia to condemn it. He reiterated the party’s position that candidates should not seek support from law enforcement groups, and said the party would consider boycotting political consultants who use racist images or language.

“Our Party believes that #Blacklivesmatter and we will meet that belief with action,” he wrote.

In reality, Weber joined other La Mesa officials in declaring a curfew the night of the unrest, and supported a later request for the National Guard to provide security in the city.

The divide in the contest around support for police has been growing. Another Munguia flier from another law enforcement group shows her smiling and reads “the violence we saw in La Mesa is not the answer.” She says in it that she supports police reform and laws to protect peaceful protesters, and pledges to bring the police and community together. Another says “your local law enforcement officers support Leticia Munguia,” and one from the State Affiliated Cops depicts Munguia in color, highlighting her message of bringing police and residents together, while graying out photos of Weber and Glass-Blake, while highlighting their work on criminal justice.

Activists in and around the district noticed. Laila Aziz, program director at the advocacy group Pillars of the Community, said, “If Weber used anti-Latinx or any other racist dog whistles in her campaign, I would call her out. Period. Why is everyone so damn quiet?” Khalid Alexander, founder of Pillars, went further. He said Munguia would be “an enemy of the people” if she was elected.

All voters in the district will receive a mail ballot this time around, but in-person voting will also take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Head to the San Diego Registrar of Voters to find information about ballot drop-off locations and polling places.

Get caught up on coverage of the race: Here’s the latest on who is pouring money into the race. We rounded up the candidates stances on a handful of significant issues. And here’s a great read on the ways in which organized labor has shaped the race.

And, a big decision on an election that already happened …

On Tuesday, the City Council is set to decide the fate of a hotel-tax measure that has been in limbo for more than a year. Last March, 65 percent of city voters backed Measure C, a tourism tax hike that would fund a Convention Center expansion, homelessness initiatives and road repairs – shy of the two-thirds required for passage of taxes for specific purposes. Then a series of court rulings concluded citizens’ initiatives could prevail with a simple majority.

Now the City Council is poised to weigh in on whether the city should argue that Measure C, also pursued as a citizens’ initiative, passed. Mayor Todd Gloria, a Measure C supporter, has argued that the city has a duty to explore that possibility.

If the City Council opts to proceed with a legal validation suit, as it’s called, a court ruling is likely months away. Gloria’s office has said the city wouldn’t begin collecting the tax on tourists unless the city receives a favorable court ruling. 

See Where Billions in Schools Aid Is Going Locally

Between the $2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020; the $900 billion aid package in December; and the $1.9 trillion aid package called the American Rescue Plan in March 2021, the federal government has sent unprecedented cash to schools across the country, including those in San Diego County. 

The state has pumped aid to schools as well: It passed a $6.56 billion-plus aid package in March 2021 via SB 86, which ties $2 billion worth of the funds to a firm in-person school reopening timeline this year for certain students.

Meanwhile, most schools have remained closed for the past year and are only now beginning to reopen.

In a new story, Voice of San Diego gathered the local coronavirus school aid amounts into one searchable database. See how much money your school district received.

3 Factors to Keep in Mind With Border Data

In the latest Border Report, Gustavo Solis breaks down the factors that Tom Wong, director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at UCSD, thinks everyone should keep in mind as they weigh what’s happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and the rising number of border apprehensions.

“Wong and his team of researchers analyzed apprehension data from Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the current uptick is actually a crisis,” Solis writes. “They found three reasonable explanations – seasonal migration patterns, pent-up demand from 2020 and unreliable statistics.”

Vaccines for Locals Only

As vaccines first became available to local residents, San Diego County set up mass vaccination “superstations” in order to get as many shots in as many arms as possible. 

But that approach facilitated some disparities.

VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer and Adriana Heldiz tagged along with some community volunteers in Barrio Logan attempting to reverse those disparities: They went door to door to help residents in the area sign up to receive a vaccination at a site in the neighborhood that was setting aside shots for people in the surrounding ZIP code.

“After four days of campaigning, volunteers visited over 4,000 houses and registered a quarter of them,” Elmer reports.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.