Morning Report: New Padres Season, No Update on Concession Scandals

by 24USATVMarch 29, 2024, 3 p.m. 20

Thursday marked the Padres’ home opener at Petco Park – and the start of the new season got our Will Huntsberry wondering: Have the Padres or team concessionaire Delaware North made any changes since he uncovered major concession scandals last year?

The answer: We still don’t know.

Refresher: Huntsberry last year revealed that phantom nonprofit Chula Vista Fast Pitch pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars each year at Petco despite not being a real charity and that two other groups paid their “volunteer” workers under the table and below minimum wage.

So what’s up now? The Padres and Delaware North didn’t respond to Huntsberry’s requests for updates on what they may be doing to try to end those practices this season though Delaware North last year committed to up its game when it comes to reviewing charity groups’ legal statuses and “heightened operational standards.”

In other Padres news: The San Diego Sun reports that while the Padres unveiled the renovated 2.8-acre Gallagher Square Park next to Petco Park to much fanfare earlier this week, some East Village residents are less than impressed.

Former supervisor Nathan Fletcher is planning on suing the woman who accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault for defamation.

Here’s what went down: On Thursday Judge Matthew Braner put a temporary restraining order on Grecia Figueroa’s cell phone. This prohibits her from deleting messages and other evidence. The parties have been fighting over messages that Fletcher’s team argues Figueroa is withholding and destroying.

As we reported, Figueroa recently parted ways with her attorneys. She told Voice she plans to continue pursuing the case and looking for new legal representation.

The news: Fletcher’s team wanted Braner to go further. They wanted the court to create a digital copy of Figueroa’s phone to preserve all the information on the device. The judge didn’t agree. Fletcher’s attorneys said that they are concerned she will delete information because she is now a defendant in a separate case.

“I think there’s an absolutely imminent threat this could happen again, especially considering that she’s now a defendant in Mr. Fletcher’s defamation case,” said Sean McKaveney, one of Fletcher’s attorneys.

That’s new: Apparently Fletcher is now suing Figueroa. Though the record of a defamation suit had not been made public as of Thursday.

The judge also expressed hope that Figueroa would have new legal representation before a hearing April 5. She is representing herself at the moment.

Following ugly divorce proceedings with the San Diego County Water Authority, the leader of the Fallbrook Public Utility District showed up to his last meeting bearing avocado-filled gift baskets and a giant check.

The comically-sized financial device – typically featured when someone wins the lottery or celebrates a charitable donation – was for $6,805,400, paid to the order of the Water Authority. It’s the last payment Fallbrook agreed to make to leave San Diego for a cheaper water supplier in Riverside County. The check’s memo line reads “exit fee.” Jack Bebee stood for photos with the Water Authority’s General Manager, Dan Denham, and Mel Katz, the Water Authority board chair.

Bebee said he paid the actual amount with a regular-sized check. But the moment, for him, marks a “turning of the page” on the once knives-out relationship between water agencies.

“All of southern California wants to see the Water Authority succeed,” Bebee said.

The public may soon have more clarity on what exactly is wrong with a broken sewage treatment plant along the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Joe Biden’s pick to care for the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant (or IBWC which treats Tijuana sewage spilling into San Diego) told reporters Thursday she’s “reevaluating” what can be released from a heavily-redacted report on the plant’s condition.

Voice of San Diego sued the IBWC to obtain the report following an unfulfilled Freedom of Information Act request. But the IBWC blacked-out almost all of the new or relevant information that described the plant’s facilities.

Maria-Elena Giner, Biden’s pick to lead the IBWC, said the redactions were rushed and made to protect information that might affect the public bidding process between companies the IBWC might hire to do maintenance work on the plant.

Giner said the IBWC is waiting to hear back from the U.S. Department of Justice on whether the South Bay plant is considered critical infrastructure from a national security perspective. The South Bay plant shares pipes and passages with Mexico, through which Tijuana sends sewage into the plant for treatment.

“We don’t want to put out our plans and specs because we wouldn’t want them to get into the wrong hands,” said Giner. “We’re going back to reevaluate what more we can share.”

Progress Report: Schools Say Soft Approach Works Best with School Skippers

Since the pandemic, the number of students missing 10 percent of their annual school days skyrocketed. Chronic absenteeism, as it’s called, causes all sorts of negative academic outcomes and even affects school funding.

Nineteen schools joined forces to tackle the problem together as part of San Diego County’s Improving Chronic Absenteeism Network, writes education reporter Jakob McWhinney in his latest Progress Report. Schools used to punish students that skipped class. Now schools make home visits, link struggling students and their families to resources. They build trust.
• A political consultant who once served as City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn’s chief of staff bypassed jail time following a guilty plea for fraudulently claiming federal COVID-19 relief funds and state unemployment benefits. (Union-Tribune)
• PSA: The city’s meter maids are getting new all-electric Ford Mustangs to replace their longtime small white enforcement vehicles. (NBC 7)
• Attorneys for the city and the county are battling over a settlement with the son of a woman shot and killed by county sheriff’s deputies and a city police officer trying to serve an eviction notice. (Union-Tribune)
• Amid growing concerns among South Bay residents, the county now has a website to monitor and share updates on illnesses that may be tied to Tijuana River sewage. (CBS 8)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.


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