Morning Report: Sweetwater’s Unexpected Budget Crisis Wasn’t So Unexpected After All
Will Huntsberry reports that the two administrators, Sweetwater’s chief financial officer and director of finance, retired during the summer as the books were being closed on the district’s previous fiscal year. A spokesman had previously said their retirements were pre-planned and not related to Sweetwater’s current budget crisis. But, according to a past Sweetwater employee, the district’s chief financial officer retired very abruptly, citing personal reasons.
Some employees noticed the director of finance making strange statements about the budget last year.
“‘It’s just so bad,’ he kept saying,” according to one employee. “‘Next year is gonna be so bad. It’s gonna be so bad. There’s going to be layoffs.’ It was weird. I didn’t know what he meant at the time.”
“We obviously know what he meant now,” the employee added.
Few Live and Work Downtown
In the eyes of urbanists, the mark of a successful downtown is one where homes and offices are located nearby — workers need only walk or hop on a quick transit ride.
But that dynamic is the exception rather than the rule in San Diego.
Lisa Halverstadt reports that less than 4 percent of downtown workers also lived in the area and 96 percent commuted there for work, according to research commissioned by the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Most downtown residents commute to neighborhoods like Sorrento Valley, Kearny Mesa or Mission Valley.
That said, downtown boosters think there’s reason to be optimistic. They’re pointing to the tech industry.
Halverstadt’s story is a part of The People’s Reporter, a feature where the public can submit questions and vote on the questions they want answered.
San Diego Infrastructure Backlog Is Soaring
The San Diego City Council will be presented with a report Monday showing, according to KPBS, that officials need an extra $1.86 billion over the next five years for sidewalks, streetlights, new libraries and a host of other infrastructure problem.
The biggest unfunded capital need involves stormwater. For years, according to a city audit released last year, mayors and city councils have refused to completely tackle this major infrastructure issue, which can lead to flooding, sinkholes, metal and bacteria-filled streams and toxic coastal waters.
KPBS also reports that the City Council will also consider a separate report Monday related to staff overtime. Most of that overtime pay — $8.6 million — went to the police department, where officers are working longer hours to make up for a high vacancy rate.
- The Republicans’ safest seat on the San Diego City Council isn’t all that safe anymore: District 5 is nearly evenly split between the two major parties and independents. The most active Republican to emerge can’t legally raise or spend money until September while another potential candidate says the city’s new salary hike made him consider a run.
- Marie Waldron, the most powerful Republican in the California Assembly, blamed GOP losses in the last election on being outspent at the congressional level, which trickled down to City Council races and school boards. In other San Diego state delegation news, Assemblyman Todd Gloria is trying to give local environmental regulators more power.
- Over on the podcast, the crew talks about a new wastewater recycling project that will affect customer’s bill — but by how much, the city won’t say. They also break down a potential new ballot measure intended to reduce carbon emissions and alleviate the housing shortage.
San Diego Says Goodbye to One of Its Best
From Scott: Munk made UC San Diego and its oceanographic and climate work famous worldwide. He contributed to the Allied victory in World War II as the Navy invested heavily in understanding the ocean so it could have the upper hand. He was a brilliant, charismatic explorer and researcher and he was one of San Diego’s most prominent and valued citizens.
He was also an early supporter of Voice of San Diego. We will miss him and wish his family well.
In Other News
- The U-T looks back on the first-year growing pains of legal marijuana sales and the inability of officials to restrain the black market. Only a fraction of municipalities in California have allowed marijuana businesses to operate in their jurisdictions, severely limiting access to the regulated marketplace. In December, Jesse Marx offered takeaways on the first year of legalization.
- San Diegans got a reminder of what it’s like to have a football team — that loses — as the San Diego Fleet made its debut and fell to the San Antonio Commanders. (NFL)
- The U.S. will once again waive environmental reviews in order to replace a stretch of border fencing in San Diego. (Associated Press)
- The San Diego swell has been gnarly lately, brah. (Surfer)
- Oceanside is considering a work program for as many as 25 homeless individuals. Residents and officials say it’s a good start, but one council member complained that a minimum wage job is not enough to keep someone in housing. (Union-Tribune)
- UC San Diego is subsidizing the cost of education for native-born Californians by heavily recruiting international students, who pay at least twice as much as in tuition and fees. But the university also says the influx of foreign students broadens everyone’s cultural experience on campus. (Union-Tribune)
- Borrego Springs is bracing for another Super Bloom. The desert town was overwhelmed by nearly half a million visitors two years ago. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.
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