Gloria takes aim at private prisons
Assemblymember Todd Gloria announced in January that he is taking part in drafting legislation that would prohibit the practice of contracting private, for-profit prisons within California. The law titled AB 32, if ratified, would bar state agencies from entering into or renewing contracts with private prison corporations starting in 2020.
“Private prisons are a practice that should have never been permitted in California, and it’s time we end their presence,” Gloria said in a press release. “For-profit prisons do not serve the best interests of Californians nor are they in line with our values. No one should profit off human incarceration, especially after we have refocused our corrections system away from incarceration and towards rehabilitation.”
The use of private prisons in America stretches deep into the nation’s history, and today over 8.4 percent of all prisoners are housed in such institutions. For-profit penitentiaries are a multi-billion-dollar industry, and there has been a growing demand to shift away from the practice.
If the proposal becomes law, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would be required to transfer all state prison inmates from private facilities (about 9,000 prisoners) to state facilities by January 2028.
Shelter Island boat launch
The Port of San Diego unveiled the newly revamped Shelter Island boat launch facility at a ribbon cutting in January. Construction has been underway since 2015, when the California Department of Parks and Recreation awarded a $6.1 million grant to fund the project. Its completion aims to increase the launching capacity of what many say to be the busiest facility of its kind in the state.
“This state-of-the-art boat launch facility will allow more people to safely and quickly get out and enjoy our San Diego Bay,” said Garry Bonelli, chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners, adding, “The Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility handles more boaters than any such facility in the entire state of California. It’s one of many projects being added to jumpstart the port’s ‘renaissance on the bay.’”
Overall the project has expanded the maneuvering space within the facility, built additional boarding platforms, added new public walkways and viewing areas, and updated signage and lighting. Constructed within the allocated budget, the project finished just over $9.6 million.
San Diego candidates announce plans for 2020 election
San Diego Councilmember Chris Ward from District 3 announced he will be campaigning to represent the state’s 78th state Assembly district. His decision comes after Assembly member Todd Gloria announced his decision to run for San Diego mayor, leaving the house spot open.
In a recent press release, Ward said, “I am deeply committed to responding to the immediate threats of climate change, housing affordability, and economic security. I’ve built my life and my family in this community, and I see the challenges we face to make sure everyone has the chance to contribute and thrive here.” He added, “I know that means enough housing at every income level, access to quality education, affordable health care, a healthy environment, and sustainable jobs that allow everyone to achieve everything they’re capable of right here in San Diego.”
Ward has served on the City Council since 2016, having previously served eight years as chief of staff in the state legislature. His announcement comes early into the 2020 election cycle and the field is still open for candidates to announce their bid for the spot.
Following the announcement that Ward would be vacating his council position, former executive director of San Diego Pride, Stephen Whitburn, announced his intention to run for the 3rd District.
A longtime nonprofit leader within San Diego, Whitburn has advocated for LGBTQ protections and equality. He has also volunteered with several municipal committees including advisory panels for the city, the San Diego Business Association, and as vice chair of the North Park Planning Committee.
Both candidates are registered as Democrats, though the positions they are running for are officially nonpartisan.
Mayor Faulconer calls for bipartisan support on longstanding issues
In his 2019 State of the City address, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer stressed the importance of rising beyond political division to solve problems that have long been cumulating in the San Diego region.
“Our national landscape has become one that seeks to divide us. But let us never allow our differences to blind us to the common humanity we all share. We cannot achieve the goal of inclusion using the tools of division,” Mayor Faulconer stated in a press release. “We are stronger than the national political division. We are smarter than the partisan rhetoric. And we are better together than we are apart. The state of our city is strong, and united, we will make it even stronger.”
The mayor touched on key issues including homelessness, climate change, and city infrastructure. He also touted some of the programs he has helped institute such as the Clean SD program which has removed more than 2,700 tons of trash from the San Diego River and the city’s urban canyons.
He outlined several projects with the intention of protecting the region’s energy, water, and natural resources. These include the creation of a new power division to supply renewable energy to residents and businesses, connecting the public trolley system to the airport, and constructing an immense water-recycling facility with the goal of delivering one-third of the city’s water by 2035.
Faulconer has invited other regional public and business leaders to join him in planning and executing many of these goals.
Iconic California tower to be retrofitted
The Museum of Man announced in a recent press release that the California tower overlooking Balboa park will receive a seismic retrofit in February. The popular attraction will be closed beginning Feb. 18 but will continue to offer regularly scheduled tours up until that date.
Built between 1915 and 1916 in honor of the Panama-California Exposition after the completion of the Panama Canal, the tower has long stood as the architectural crown jewel of Balboa Park. The project, which has been funded by FEMA, will increase the tower’s ability to withstand earthquake damage using the latest building codes. In total, the city predicts the project to last between seven and ten months.
Local partner named among top lawyers of 2019
San Diego based law firm Thornes Bartolotta McGuire recently saw two of its lawyers named among U.S. News’ “Best Lawyers of 2019.” Brett Schreiber, and Kevin F. Quinn received the honors in January, adding to both their list of acknowledgments. Schreiber specializes in mass torts and malpractice law and has worked at the firm since starting as a clerk in 2004. Quinn practices in a number of fields including liability and personal injury and is a longtime partner of the firm.
Quinn graduated magnum cum laude from California Western School of Law, going on to become certified as a trial lawyer from Hastings College of Advocacy. In 1993, he acted as council for the first settlement case to win against defective Shiley heart valves. He has since been nominated for and presented a myriad of prestigious awards recognizing his impressive tenacity and legal skills. Following his 2010 victory for the largest single-plaintiff verdict in the state, Quinn was recognized by the Consumer Attorneys for San Diego (CASD), receiving the exclusive Outstanding Trial Lawyer of the Year award.
A distinguished attorney, Schreiber was the youngest person to serve as president of CASD and continues to serve on the foundation board. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Award of Merit from the Consumer Attorneys of California. As leader of CASD, Schreiber has organized community outreach to underprivileged communities, educating students about the nation’s legal system and donating gently used office supplies to schools around the county.
Originally a Florida native, Schreiber graduated cum laude from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in downtown San Diego. He went on to receive hands on legal experience as an intern and lobbyist in the Florida senate before returning to California to practice law.
The U.S. News “Best Lawyers in America” awards recognized the top five percent of practicing attorneys in the U.S. from participating firms. For 2019, over 16,000 lawyers provided more than 1,125,000 law firm assessments, and almost
12,000 clients provided more than 107,000 evaluations.
Bill introduced in response to county’s handling of hep. Outbreak
Following a state audit which found the City of San Diego’s response to the recent hepatitis A outbreak inadequate, assemblymember Todd Gloria of the 78th district announced he had drafted new legislation targeting future potential outbreaks.
“The recent state audit confirmed many of our worst fears: people fell ill and died that didn’t have to. We want to make sure an outbreak like this never happens again,” said the assemblymember. “The public should feel confident that its officials know what to do and how to handle public health emergencies. That’s why I introduced AB 262 – legislation that makes very clear the responsibility of local government and public health officers to protect the public against future communicable disease outbreaks.” he continued.
The new bill, titled AB 262, would establish specified duties for local governments in the event of outbreak of a communicable disease. It would require public health officials to inform cities in their jurisdiction about outbreaks, as well as make relevant information about outbreaks available within affected jurisdictions.
The state audit revealed multiple areas lacking in county’s response following the declaration of a public health emergency in August 2017. County officials failed to communicate location date concerning the concentration of outbreak cases to the city. As well, state auditors found that despite talks between the county and city taking place in August, sanitary measures were not implemented until later in September. By April of 2018, the county had reported a total of 587 related cases, with 402 hospitalizations and 20 deaths caused by the outbreak.
AB 262 was joint-authored by local assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez and Tasha Boeren-Hovath. The bill is pending its referral to the state assembly committee for review.
—Compiled by Jules Shane.