<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Politics and Political News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sun, 21 Dec 2014 01:27:41 -0800 Sun, 21 Dec 2014 01:27:41 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sen. Ben Hueso to Serve 3 Years' Probation]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 21:16:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ben+hueso.JPG

California State Sen. Ben Hueso will serve three years of probation and undergo a six-week alcohol program after he was arrested in August and charged with DUI.

Hueso, a Democrat from San Diego, pleaded no contest Thursday to a lesser “wet reckless” charge, which means he will not face any jail time. Instead, his plea deal requires the probation, alcohol program and a $240 fine.

On Aug. 22, the 44-year-old state senator was reportedly caught driving the wrong way on a one-way street in Sacramento, according to KCRA.

A California Highway Patrol officer pulled Hueso over at a gas station, where surveillance video showed him doing sobriety tests. He was arrested shortly after, and CHP says he had a blood alcohol content of 0.08.

Hueso was offered the wet reckless charge because prosecutors have a difficult time proving DUI when defendants only register a 0.08. There is the possibility of a “scientific error factor” in the tests used to prove people are legally drunk, prosecutors say.

The day after he was released on bond, Hueso released a statement which read, in part, “I am truly and profoundly sorry for the unacceptably poor personal judgment which I demonstrated last night.”

Hueso's 40th District covers southern San Diego County, parts of Riverside County and Imperial County.

<![CDATA[Padilla Ends Chula Vista City Council Race Recount]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:21:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista-.jpg

After weeks of counting ballots, the Chula Vista City Council race is hours away from officially being decided.

Democrat Steve Padilla suspended a recount request Thursday after opponent John McCann won the District 1 seat by two points last month.

In a statement Padilla said it's clear that "many valid ballots are not being counted and this recount is unlikely to change the result."

""In the most common case, registered Chula Vista voters cast ballots on Election Day, but in listing a mailing address on their voting materials, had their votes thrown out. The Registrar’s decision to throw out these valid votes and silence these voters’ voices is wrong," said Padilla.

Now that the recount has been suspended, members of the public have 24 hours to request an additional recount. If no one requests a recount, the results will be official Friday morning.

The race went to a recount earlier this month after a recount was requested by Humberto Peraza Jr., who is lobbyist and a Southwestern Community College board trustee.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said Dec. 2 certified results from the election showed McCann won with 18,448 votes to Padilla's 18,446.

McCann said in the future, he and his staff will look into alternative options to help Chula Vista residents ensure their voice is heard, saying he remains “more committed than ever to counting every vote.”

The last time Chula Vista saw a close race like this was in June 2010, when U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) went up against then-Assemblywoman Mary Salas for the 40th state Senate District. The race did end in a recount, but Salas halted it on the third day, allowing Vargas to win by 22 votes.

<![CDATA[Lightner Elected as Council President in Revote]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:20:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+city+council+generic+080114.JPG

A second San Diego City Council president vote Tuesday ended with the same results as the last: Councilwoman Sherri Lightner elected as leader.

Lightner was first voted in as council president last Wednesday, ousting incumbent Todd Gloria, after private, one-on-one-meetings among six council members.

There was no majority quorum and the talks did not violate the state’s open meetings law, the Ralph M. Brown Act. However, the meetings are banned under the act’s serial meetings clause.

NBC 7 alerted the City Attorney’s office to the potential problem last week. To remedy the situation, Lightner called for a special meeting Tuesday to request another vote.

"The revote on the council president is the cure provided by Brown Act that was recommended by the City Attorney's office," said Lightner to the council Tuesday. "This action will quickly and simply address any concerns."

On Tuesday evening, a 6-1 vote elected Lightner as president. Gloria was the lone dissenting voice.

In the lead up to the vote, Executive Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper said reporting by NBC 7’s Wendy Fry helped lead to the revote.

Lighter said the City Attorney’s office will be conducting a refresher course on the Brown Act in the new year. She also told the council she wants to set a tone of transparency and openness here, at the beginning of her one-year term as president.

<![CDATA[SD Council President Vote Voided; Term Limit Questions Raised]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:05:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sherri_lightner_pic_1200x675_371540035679.jpg

San Diego's new City Council president chaired her first meeting Monday afternoon.

But her election is still not final -- legally speaking.

More questions surrounding the council's voting process have surfaced after NBC 7 alerted the City Attorney's office last week.

Lightner was elected last Wednesday after private, one-on-one meetings among six council members -- including herself and incumbent Todd Gloria – that we reported the following day.

There was no apparent "majority quorum" violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open meetings law, but such talks are banned under the act’s "serial meetings" clause.

After early-agenda formalities in the 12th floor council chamber at City Hall Monday, Lightner made the following announcement:

"There have been concerns raised about potential Brown Act violations among councilmembers who may have discussed the council president vote in advance of the hearing last Wednesday. In an abundance of caution, I am calling a special meeting for tomorrow, December 16th at 5:30 p.m. to request a revote on the selection of the council president for 2015."

The city attorney's office tells NBC 7 that a revote will "cure" whatever violations may have occurred, no further fact-finding needed.

But now another question arises from what Lightner told us last Friday -- there's an undercurrent that the council president's job should carry a two-year limit.

"We will certainly be talking about that,” she said in an extended interview. “There are some of my colleagues (who) have already mentioned that it might be good to actually codify this."

"Do you think that's healthy?" she was asked.

"I think that's healthy,” Lighter replied. “I think it affords other council members the opportunity to do special work. We all have different backgrounds. We all have different communities. And to bring forth our special issues or our priorities is pretty important."

Meantime, some of Lightner's critics harbor suspicions that she'll throw more weight behind the four-member Republican bloc on the nine-member council.

Andrew Keatts, who covers City Hall and civic issues for Voice of San Diego, offers this cautionary note: "Really, all the major partisan standoffs that we've had in recent years, she's been on the same side as Todd Gloria -- not with the Republicans.

“She may simply say, 'Well, I have my own policy agenda that I would like to achieve, and if those guys are willing to give me their votes, I'll take them,'” Keatts added. “'I don't owe them anything. What -- are they going to depose me once I'm already there?' She's got two years left in office."

NBC 7 has forwarded to the city attorney documentation of Lighter’s reference to talk among councilmembers about term-limiting the president's job to two years, and questions raised by Twitter followers about the timing and Brown Act implications involved.

“Interesting tweets,” Goldsmith’s communications director Gerry Braun replied in an email, “but nothing in them we would comment on.”

<![CDATA[Manual Recount In Chula Vista Race Suspended]]> Sun, 14 Dec 2014 17:01:01 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista-.jpg

The manual recount of ballots in the razor-close Chula Vista City Council race between former Mayor Steve Padilla and former Sweetwater school district president John McCann has been suspended with no net change in the outcome.

McCann remains in the lead by just two votes. During the manual recount, each side lost a vote, leaving the race still tilting toward McCann by two votes.

Humberto Peraza, a Democratic lobbyist who requested the recount, said the strategy is to refocus energy on the 269 ballots that remain uncounted. Peraza said the manual recount can be picked up again later.

Registrar Michael Vu said those 269 ballots remain uncounted for a variety of reasons, including the ballot not being signed or not properly completed. Other reasons include signatures on the envelope not matching the one on the registration form, a person who's not registered to vote and ballots that came in too late.

"That's the reason why we didn't count them, but they can challenge our ruling on any of the uncounted categories," Vu said.

Peraza said he believes there are about 70 ballots in which the voter didn't sign the ballot, but those cannot be counted toward the official vote because they are considered invalid.

The last recount in the county was between now-Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas and U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) for the 40th state senate seat. The Salas campaign suspended the recount within a couple days and Vargas won by the official tally of 22 votes.

The McCann-Padilla race is the closest in the history of Chula Vista.

<![CDATA[New Council President Explains Succession, Policy Plans]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 20:05:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sherri+lightner.JPG

San Diego's new city council president is now going public with the reason she pursued the job held by the ousted Todd Gloria -- and her plans moving forward.

Sherri Lighter had been the center of media intrigue surrounding the City Hall coup.

Lightner, media-shy and introverted by nature, wasn’t inclined to feed the speculation that began when NBC 7 broke the story that Gloria's presidency would be challenged.

In an interview Friday, she said that report was the first she had heard about what became more than a political insiders’ controversy – and that she doesn't know who on the council set the wheels in motion.

"You didn't put this out first?" I asked her.

"No. I did not," Lightner replied.

"So who came to you first?" was my follow-up.

"It was Todd."

"Where had he heard it?”

"It was the press inquiry,” Lightner responded. “We both got the same press inquiry at the same time."

Without quoting him, Lightner indicated that Gloria wasn’t thrilled to learn of her interest in the council presidency.

“I think we know how he took it,” is all she would say.

On Thursday, Gloria offered NBC 7 a blunt description of the change of command: “This is politics.”

Lightner said the fact that Gloria’s two predecessors as council president each had held the post for two years had created an informal expectation among other members that the job should be limited to that time span.

The idea behind that expectation, she continued, is that council vice presidents -- which Lightner had been during Gloria's tenure – can thereby advance to the top post, often referred to as “moving up the chairs.”

"It is something that's important to all the councilmembers, to have the possibility of being the council president,” Lightner explained, adding that there's been talk on the council floor of formal action to make it just a two-year job.

NBC 7 has reported that discussions about the succession process involved private, one-on-one meetings that involved six councilmembers including Lightner and Gloria, and quoted a council aide as saying Lightner told Gloria last week that she was “going for it."

However the decisions behind the ultimate 7-2 vote in favor of Lightner over Gloria were reached, Lightner says her professional background is well-suited to running what's been called the "nuts and bolts" of council business -- which she did herself for the six months Gloria was acting mayor after Bob Filner’s departure from City Hall.

"I think the reason for 'nuts and bolts' is, I am an engineer, and engineers by and large are very interested in getting things done in a rational way,” Lightner said. “They're solution-oriented: 'Let's fix the problem, let's not just talk about the problem, and let's move forward with that.'"

Lightner wants to move forward with water policy, economic development, open data, cybersecurity and workforce building through science, math, engineering, arts and technology by way of public, private, and academic partnerships.

There will to lots of long-term “swamps to drain,” I pointed out, and lots of day-to-day “alligators” to fend off in the process.

Lighter’s response: "The minimization of 'alligators' is working collaboratively with other people to put the fires out before they happen.”

She laughed off suggestions that she'll be "gamed" by the four-member Republican bloc on the nine-member council or that they promised her some kind of power.

"You need to include everyone in your discussions, and these folks have things to add to the discussion,” Lightner said.

“It's important to include as many viewpoints as you can while you're building something and engage in a rational discussion. We certainly have enough problems. We don't need to be at each other's throats. We need to solve the problems."

Lightner’s recommended appointments to new terms on council committees have Gloria serving as chair of the Budget & Government Efficiency Committee, vice chair of the Smart Growth & Land Use Committee and a member of the Environment and Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

She also appointed him to continue to represent the city as a director and executive committee member of the San Diego Assn. of Governments, director of the Metropolitan Transit District and liaison to Civic San Diego, successor agency to the disbanded redevelopment authority.

In the process, Gloria maintained positions he’s previously held and was given new ones now that he no longer faces the obligations of the council presidency.

“No objections,” Gloria’s spokesman said in a text message when asked about his reaction to the appointments. “He’s very grateful.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[How Todd Gloria Was Ousted as Council President]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:45:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/todd+gloria+and+sherri+lightner.JPG

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s controversial election of a new San Diego City Council president, more details have emerged about the process of how that change of command came about.

After NBC 7 first reported rumblings of a move to replace Council President Todd Gloria two weeks ago, his vice president Sherri Lightner did not comment on her thoughts about the key job that Gloria had held for two years.

On Wednesday, Gloria offered his thoughts on Lighter, who’s represented San Diego’s 1st City Council district since 2008, having replaced him.

"This is politics, and so you can't take it personally,” Gloria said. “And I won’t act out personally where this is concerned. I'm just going to do my level best to continue the initiatives that I've been pushing."

Some of the initiatives Gloria has been pushing may have struck the four Republicans on the nine-member Council as too bent on "social engineering" instead of the "nuts and bolts" of municipal operations.

Lightner and two other Democrats joined them in a 7-2 vote ousting Gloria, who got support from fellow Democrat David Alvarez in opposing Lightner’s selection.

As for the move being "politics"?

"Last time, I voted for Todd Gloria and I was praised for being nonpartisan,” Republican Councilman Scott Sherman said before Wednesday’s balloting. “Am I going to be partisan if I vote for a different Democrat this time?"

NBC 7 has learned from council aides with direct knowledge of the pre-election process that there was a series of private, one-on-one meetings that involved a total of six council members including Gloria and Lightner.

It appears no official "quorum" of five was ever reached – which would constitute a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open meetings law.

They recounted separate meetings involving Marti Emerald and Gloria, Emerald and Lightner, Sherman and Lightner, Lori Zapf and Lightner, and David Alvarez and Lightner.

According to one aide, Lighter told Gloria last week that she was “going for it."

Because the meetings appear to have involved discussions that would fall under the “Serial Meetings” section of the Brown Act, our findings were forwarded to the city attorney's office for review.

A key paragraph to consider in the law: “It must be determined whether the communications were used to develop a concurrence as to the action to be taken. If the serial communications were not used to develop a concurrence as to action to be taken, the serial communications do not constitute a meeting and the (Brown) Act is not applicable.”

Council aides told us there were no impermissible communications in those discussions.

Lightner, meantime, declined to speak with reporters Wednesday, but has scheduled media interviews for Friday.

"She needs to be able to explain why she's going to do what she's going to do,” said Scott Lewis, editor in chief of Voice of San Diego. “ And why she wanted to do this in particular -- to somebody that even she and everybody else agrees was doing a fine job."

Said Gloria: "The nuts and bolts, the gears of this city have been running incredibly smoothly, which is why it's disconcerting that we would try to make a change when things are finally hitting stride and we're doing well."

<![CDATA[Todd Gloria Voted Out as City Council President]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:04:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/todd+gloria.JPG

The San Diego City Council saw a shake-up in leadership Wednesday when Councilwoman Sherri Lightner was voted to be the next council president, ending the tenure of Councilman Todd Gloria.

A 7-2 majority elected Lightner, the first woman to hold the council president position since a strong mayor system was enacted.

"I understand the decision today," said Gloria. "It's about politics. It's not about my performance as council president, and I will show up here tomorrow to do the work of representing the people of District 3 and do my very best to make this city a better place to be." 

Ligthner left City Hall without commenting on her new position. However, she later issued a statement that said she is honored her colleagues have selected her as their new leader.

"I have worked hard during my six years on Council to be fair, open minded, and independent. I’ve always been a voice for our neighborhoods, and I’m not afraid to go against the grain or stand up for the little guy. I’ll continue to do my homework and make well-researched, informed decisions," her statement read in part.

Wearing purple and carrying yellow signs, more than 100 people showed up to support Gloria in City Hall as the council elected their new leader.

The vote came the same day newly elected Councilman Chris Cate and returning members David Alvarez, Myrtle Cole and Lorie Zapf were sworn in, allowing everyone in the new council to have a say in the issue.

But first, over 30 public speakers gave testimony either for or against Gloria, most describing his hard work during a dark time in San Diego politics. Gloria stepped in as interim mayor last year after Bob Filner’s sexual harassment scandal and eventual resignation.

"Primarily when the city had a crisis, he stepped up and he put the city first," said Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, one of the speakers. "But in addition, as a person of color, it's good to see people in power and who are doing well in power as examples for our children." 

The strong show of support was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing day for Gloria.

"And as unfortunate as the outcome is, as disappointed as I am about the outcome, I'm really heartened by this testimony that was given today by people from all corners of this city who are very happy with the job that I'm doing," said Gloria.

However, some in city leadership have expressed anger with Gloria’s minimum wage proposal. And as the Democratic-controlled council's top leader, Gloria would likely have been in a position to go up against the mayor on certain issues.

Republicans on the council and in the mayor's office decided they would rather battle it out against Lightner instead of the outspoken Gloria.

Gloria told NBC 7 he is looking forward to continue his work with Lightner, whom he had selected as his second in command.

In turn, Lightner's statement commended Gloria for his time in office.

"He has done an outstanding job during his tenure as Interim Mayor and Council President," her release read. "He brought stability and a calming presence to the City during a very difficult time and helped restore faith in city government. I will always be one of his biggest fans, as he is one of the best and brightest elected officials with whom I've ever worked. I cannot say enough good things about Todd and the job he has done. I know everyone in San Diego shares my gratitude for his service.”

Lightner, who held the second highest post on the council as president pro tem, is also chair of the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

As the new council leader, she said she and her colleagues need to improve police salaries, update the city charter, approve the Climate Action Plan, address infrastructure and water needs and put more city services online.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer quickly responded to the vote, releasing the following statement:

“I want to congratulate Sherri Lightner on being elected City Council President for 2015. We already have a great working relationship and I look forward to working together to create more opportunities for all San Diegans. I would also like to commend Councilmember Todd Gloria for his leadership over the past two years and for working collaboratively with me to get the City back on track.”

Council presidents are elected for one-year terms. Gloria was first elected in 2013 and then re-elected by his peers in 2014, according to his online bio.

The position gained importance almost a decade ago when San Diego switched over to a strong mayor form of government. Since then, a council president runs the council meetings and sets the agenda.

"He or she is the person who brings items forward, stops items, delays items," said Stampp Corbin, the publisher of the San Diego LGBT Weekly who supports Gloria. "That's really important. They make the decision about what the agenda's going to be for the city."

<![CDATA[Chula Vista City Council Recount Begins]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:27:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista-.jpg

The public recount of votes for the Chula Vista City Council Seat One began Wednesday.

The razor-thin race for the seat between John McCann and Steve Padilla ended with McCann in the lead by two votes, County Registrar Michael Vu said.

The recount was officially requested by Humberto Peraza Jr., who is lobbyist and a Southwestern Community College board trustee. The recount itself is open to the public and starts at 9 a.m. every day until all the requested votes are counted.

Vu said a recount such as this one is part of the democratic process.

“Many people of the voting public think Election Day ends on Election Day. Yet we know that we have a certification period which lasts 28 days and then, like this situation, a recount,” he said.

Twenty-five precincts will be recounted, as requested by Peraza Jr., of the 110 total precincts. All 110 precincts need to be recounted for the recount to take effect, Vu said, and they will start with the initial precincts before checking to see if more precincts will be requested.

Certified results prior to the recount said McCann won with 18,448 votes to Padilla's 18,446.

<![CDATA[City Council Presidential Vote Delayed]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 18:22:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+city+council+generic+080114.JPG The San Diego City Council has delayed its vote for council president to Wednesday. NBC 7’s Wendy Fry reports on behind-the-scenes efforts to replace current president Todd Gloria with councilwoman Sherri Lightner.]]> <![CDATA[Chula Vista City Council Race Going to Recount]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 21:13:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista-.jpg

A recount will begin within the next week for the Chula Vista City Council race won by just two votes.

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu confirmed Thursday his office has received the formal request for a recount in the District 1 race between John McCann and Steve Padilla.

On Tuesday, Vu's certified results showed McCann won with 18,448 votes to Padilla's 18,446.

But the recount was officially requested by Humberto Peraza Jr., who is lobbyist and a Southwestern Community College board trustee.

He is expected to release details about why he requested the recount at a Friday press conference.

Vu's office has seven days to start the ballot counting process all over again.

After the official results were released, Padilla released a statement saying it was time for a recount, since the 37,000 vote election came down to only two.

"Throughout the vote counting process, the percentage of the vote varied widely, with the vote count resulting in a tie at one point and eight votes, a significant number in a race this close, shifting after less than 2,500 ballots were recounted during the Registrar’s reconciliation," said Padilla's Tuesday statement.

Last week, McCann told NBC 7, "We want to get back to business at the city of Chula Vista as soon as possible, and so it would be a shame that he wouldn't just concede."

According to Vu, the person who requests the recount must pay the cost, which could be over $40,000. It could take more than a week.

If a new winner emerges as a result of the recount, the registrar's office would pay the recount fees.

Vu told NBC 7 overturning on an election on a recount is not common, though that assessment is based on races will much larger margins.

Regardless, McCann will be sworn into the seat on Dec. 9.

The last time Chula Vista saw a close race like this was in June 2010, when U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) went up against then-Assemblywoman Mary Salas for the 40th state Senate District. The race did end in a recount, but Salas halted it on the third day, allowing Vargas to win by 22 votes.

<![CDATA[Politician's Ex-Staffer Pleads Guilty to Accepting $7,500 Christmas Card Bribe]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 10:37:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+bribe+bribery+generic+money+changing+hands.jpg

The former chief of staff for a Chicago alderman pleaded guilty Thursday to accepting a $7,500 cash bribe in exchange for obtaining the alderman's letters of support for a license to sell alcohol in their ward.

Curtis V. Thompson, Jr., former chief of staff for Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), accepted 75 $100 bills in a Christmas card from an individual he believed wanted to open a convenience store. The individual was actually a witness in an FBI undercover investigation.

Thompson, 63, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Thompson was arrested in February after a complaint was filed in a federal investigation that began in 2012. On Oct. 9, 2013, the FBI informant handed Thompson a note offering the $7,500 bribe in return for a letter of support for his liquor license form the alderman, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. After seeing the note, Thompson nodded his head and said, "Okay. I understand."

Two more meetings followed in October and November 2013, during which the informant offered a $12,000 bribe, officials said. After the third meeting, Thompson prepared two letters of support on the alderman's letterhead and signed the alderman's name.

After the informant agreed to pay the bribes, he was handed a letter from the alderman which read, "Please allow this letter to serve as my full support for a 7-Eleven convenience store ... This store will be a welcomed addition to [my] community and those that patronize the area for shopping and convenience needs. As well as wine and spirits (alcohol)."

Photo Credit: Ronen Boidek, Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[It's Official: Chula Vista Candidate Wins by 2 Votes]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 20:38:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/john+mccann+and+steve+padilla.jpg

It's official: Former Sweetwater Board President John McCann has won a seat on the Chula Vista City Council by two votes.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu certified the results Tuesday, confirming  McCann's win over former Mayor Steve Padilla, 18,448 votes to 18,446.

However, Padilla confirmed Tuesday evening he will be asking for a recount. 

“To ensure that every vote is counted correctly, and to ensure our community can rely on complete and accurate election results, it is time for a recount of the Chula Vista City Council election," said a statement released by his office.

About 37,000 votes were cast in the election, and with such a close margin, Padilla said he wants to make sure every vote is accouted for.

"Throughout the vote counting process, the percentage of the vote varied widely, with the vote count resulting in a tie at one point and eight votes, a significant number in a race this close, shifting after less than 2,500 ballots were recounted during the Registrar’s reconciliation," said Padilla's statement.

Vu said his office has not received any official request for a recount as of yet.

Last week, McCann commented on the possibilty of a recount, saying, "We want to get back to business at the city of Chula Vista as soon as possible, and so it would be a shame that he wouldn't just concede."

The person who requests the recount must pay the cost, Vu says, which could cost over $40,000. The recount is expected to take more than a week.

If a new winner emerges as a result of the recount, the registrar's office would pay the recount fees.

Vu told NBC 7 overturning on an election on a recount is not common, though that assessment is based on races will much larger margins.

Recount or not, McCann will be sworn into the seat on Dec. 9.

The last time Chula Vista saw a close race like this was in June 2010, when U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) went up against then-Assemblywoman Mary Salas for the 40th state Senate District. The race did end in a recount, but Salas halted it on the third day, allowing Vargas to win by 22 votes.

The process to certify an election starts the day after all ballots come in. The county registrar's office goes through all votes, including mail-in and provisional.

Employees check and verify names and exhaust all measures before not counting a vote, Vu says. After those initial numbers are released, the office goes back and does it again to double-check their work.

As all this goes on, Vu says they select one percent of all votes and hand-tally them to make sure the results are accurate.

<![CDATA[Government Spending Deadline Looms]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:31:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/boehner+and+obama.jpg

As members of Congress returned to Washington on Monday, they were nagged by a troubling question: What are the odds of another government shutdown by next week?

Ten days are left until a deadline to fund federal programs and operations going forward.

So far, no specific threats to jeopardize spending legislation have been issued.

But many GOP lawmakers are still boiling over President Obama's unilateral action on immigration issues.

A key to averting real trouble is whether House Speaker John Boehner will be able to lower their heat index and rein them in from pushback efforts that could scuttle bipartisan support on appropriations.

Brian Bilbray, a former San Diego-area congressman, said the immigration issue is a fight that can be picked later.

"Implementation of the executive amnesty is not going to happen in the next month, and so there's time to address the budget situation this month," the Republican veteran of six terms in the House told NBC 7 in an interview Monday.

"So you can approve everything, and then address this issue with the Homeland Security budget."

The president's backers also have time, and the numbers, to foil a challenge to his immigration order.

“Now, anything the House did is not going to be approved of in the Senate, for obvious reasons,” says Democratic political strategist Jon Elliott. “The Democrats will flex their muscles up until it's the last minute."

Elliott thinks Boehner would offer this warning to party dissidents: that the Republicans would shoulder the bulk of the blame if the government goes on hiatus again, as it did for 16 days last fall.

"Do you really want to be silly enough the shut down the government after you supposedly told us people want you to get things done?” Elliott asked, rhetorically. “I don't see how that strategy would benefit them at all."

And what strategy would most benefit the White House, long-term?

"The president has to decide what he wants to do in the last two years of this administration,” said Bilbray. “And if he wants to do anything that last from now on, he's got to find a common ground with the senators and the congressmen who have to pass the laws to be his legacy."

Dec. 11 is the deadline for legislation to bankroll government operations.

Whatever the fate of immigration reform and affordable health care, Bilbray believes the man in the Oval Office is "on notice": "Now he's got all of Congress saying: 'Look, we will work with you, but we're not going to work for you. And those are co-equal. The president now has to understand what Bill Clinton did -- and did very well — of reaching out and saying 'OK, what can we agree on?'"

Meantime, the five members of San Diego County’s congressional delegation were asked to weigh in on the situation Monday by phone or email.

Said Frederick Hill, spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49th): “Rep. Issa does not envision a government shutdown happening.”

Duncan D. Hunter (R-50th): “The Speaker is looking at this situation from several different angles and the conference is sure to discuss the options in more detail over the next several days. There’s consensus that the President has overstepped but how to address the issue — in order to maximize the opportunity for success — is something we’ll have to consider more closely.”

Juan Vargas (D-51st): “I am hopeful that the House Republicans will work together within their own caucus to avoid a government shutdown. With his Executive Action, President Obama did what he could within his legal authority to fix our broken immigration system. If the Republicans are opposed to this measure, we are eager to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass a comprehensive immigration bill, and prevent a government shut down.”

Scott Peters (D-52nd): “I do think that the prospect of a shutdown is unlikely. And that obviously didn't go too well for them last time. I think they learned their lesson, and I think we ought to at least be able to fund the government through the end of the year."

Susan Davis, (D-53rd): "If the Speaker truly cares about having bipartisan substantive achievements, there’s nothing to stop him."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Council Shake-Up Attempt In the Works]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:59:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PS1_todd_gloria.jpg

Most San Diegans know Todd Gloria as the young, energetic Council President who stepped in and eased a tumultuous period in the city's history, taking over as Interim Mayor in the wake of Bob Filner's resignation.

But now, the popular Council President, responsible for getting the gears of City Hall to turn again and for colorful, bureaucratic phrases like "sexy streets," is facing removal from the top spot on the council, which gets to set the agenda for what comes before the legislative body.

Sources close to both Republicans and Democrats on the City Council and at City Hall say there is definitely a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Councilwoman Sherri Lightner take over the presiding position on the council.

Lightner did not return an email request for comment on the effort.

A spokeswoman for Gloria sent this statement:

"The Councilmember for District Three is interested in serving as the Council President should that be the desire of his colleagues. People have commented that his tenure of fair, civil and decisive leadership has served San Diego well, and he would be honored to continue in the post and make more progress for the city through his collaborative work ethic."

Council bylaws require the selection of the council president on Dec. 8. That's two days before the newly-elected Councilman Chris Cate is sworn-in on Dec. 10.

Cate said he wants to take part in the vote.

"I look forward to taking part in voting for our Council President and working with whomever it may be," he said in a written statement. "My priority is to be prepared for the transition and becoming the next Councilmember for Council District 6. My staff and I will be working diligently to make sure there is a seamless transition to ensure there is no interruption of service for the people of District 6." 

If the City Council tables the vote until after Cate is sworn in, then the make-up of the council is 5-4 in favor of the Democrats. Republicans, who have expressed anger over Gloria's minimum wage proposal, would need one vote to replace him as Council President.

It remains unclear if Lightner wants to take the position.

Lightner, who currently holds the second highest post on the council, is also chair of the Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Council presidents are elected for one-year terms. Gloria was first elected in 2013 and then re-elected by his peers in 2014, according to his online bio.

<![CDATA[Chula Vista City Council Race Separated by 2 Votes]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:29:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/john+mccann+and+steve+padilla.jpg

Former Sweetwater Board President John McCann retook the lead in the razor-close Chula Vista race for city council against former mayor Steve Padilla.

McCann is now ahead of Padilla by two votes, with 18,448 votes for McCann and 18,446 for Padilla.

On Friday, County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said all the ballots have been adjudicated and there are no other ballots to consider. However, he has repeatedly cautioned that nothing is final until he certifies the election on Dec. 2.

"We have led in the vote count for almost the entire election and we've never been behind," McCann said. "We're hoping that we'll get certified as the new council member on Tuesday." 

The race was deadlocked in an exact tie last week.

Friday, Padilla said he thinks the election is far from over with an eye toward a recount.

"You know, I think we'll examine all those options once we know where we are with the certification," he said. "I think the process is not over. I don't think this election is decided."

The recount process could take more than a week, and Vu estimates it will cost more than $40,000. Overturning an election on a recount is not common, according to Vu, but he cautions that his assessment is based on races with margins much larger than two votes.

Recount or not, if McCann is officially victorious Tuesday, he will be sworn in as the city council representative on Dec. 9, according to the city clerk. 

"We want to get back to business at the city of Chula Vista as soon as possible, and so it would be a shame that he wouldn't just concede," McCann said.

Padilla said this race cements how much every vote matters.

"In recent days, I've been thinking, you know, you're sitting there brushing your teeth in the morning and you're thinking to yourself, 'Two votes. Who do I know that maybe could have voted and didn't or should have?''" Padilla said. "It really underscores just how important it is, and how we take for granted so much our ability to pick our own leaders. We're just so used to it." 

The last recount in San Diego County was the memorable 2010 40th state Senate District, pitting U.S. Rep Juan Vargas (D- San Diego) against then-Assemblywoman, now-Chula Vista Mayor-elect of Mary Salas. Salas stopped the recount on the third day, so Vargas won that seat by 22 votes and then went onto Congress.

This is indeed the closest race in the history of Chula Vista, according to a review of Election Day results between 1911 and 2012. City Clerk Donna Norris confirmed this election is the closest in recent history, going back to John Moot's 14-vote victory over Dennis Rowley in 1996. With Norris' help, NBC7 reviewed those election results and confirmed two votes is as close as it gets, if that margin holds.

The next closest race was in 1936 when Jerome Tucbeck came in third in an "elect-two" system, losing out to Claude Brown by just seven votes.

In 1920, there was an exact tie between L.B. Barnes and E.G. Noyes, but it was an "elect-two" system, and they were the only two candidates running, capturing exactly 69 votes each.

<![CDATA[Questions Raised About Climate Plan Manager's Role]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:28:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san+diego+city+council+generic+080114.JPG

The city of San Diego's new "Climate Action Plan" is drawing mostly positive reviews, but critics say it could be more pro-active on conservation.

Others suspect a hidden political agenda could come into play.

City officials are now in the process of recruiting a "Sustainability Program Manager" to coordinate the climate plan released in draft form back in late September.

It has the backing of Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the city council, along with endorsements from business and environmental interests.

It calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half and drawing all electricity from renewable sources by 2035. 

A contentious requirement for energy efficient upgrades on homes for sale eventually went by the boards between the council’s draft and Faulconer’s finished product.

An “Under the Radar” item in this week’s edition of the San Diego Reader speculates that the program manager’s position will be a cushy "patronage" job that’ll “go heavy on public relations" and marketing.

“Compensation is not specified,” says the Reader dispatch, “but expected to be rich for the advancement of Faulconer's political fortunes.”

Sustainability advocates draw a different conclusion.

"The PR piece of this and the outreach piece of it is going to be a priority,” agreed Steven Heverly, managing director of the Equinox Center, “but I don't think it's going to be as high a priority as somebody who's educated in the issues and understands the issues specifically as they relate to San Diego and climate action."

Political observers believe the mayor's advisers would remind him of a public relations risk.

"If it is just a PR person or it is a political crony-type of appointment, I think the media will shine the light on it right away, and Mayor Faulconer is much smarter than that," said political consultant John Dadian.

In response to the Reader, Matt Awbrey, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, said: “This story doesn’t have much basis in reality.”

He pointed out the position was created at the urging and approval of the city council, and that candidates will be judged on eight criteria other than marketing and public education skills.

While no salary range posted for the climate program manager's position -- the city's recently hired communications director gets $140,000 a year – the outreach ad cites flexible benefits, city-funded life insurance of $50,000 and 22 days of annual leave.

It notes that a master's degree related to business, economic development “or other government service or sustainability is highly desirable." 

<![CDATA[Split Response to Obama's Immigration Reform]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:36:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DG11pyPKG1986Immigration_1200x675_362629699828.jpg President Barack Obama's new immigration policy has sparked a divisive and fierce debate but as NBC 7's Diana Guevara reports, it's not the first time a president has used executive power in the name of immigration reform.]]> <![CDATA[Benefits, Challenges in Post-Prop 47 San Diego]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 06:17:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Prop-47-Folo-112114.jpg

Two familiar faces in the San Diego criminal justice system met Friday to take a post-election look at state Proposition 47.

Its passage, by a 3-to-2 voter majority has bumped a lot of low-level felonies down to misdemeanors.

Now, it could free up thousands of prison inmates.

Former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne said concerns about low-level criminals being released from custody are unfounded.

He cites other states that have succeeded with the shift in categorization of some crimes.

“There isn’t a family I know of that isn’t touched by this,” Lansdowne said referring to inmates with either a history of mental illness or drug abuse.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said there are a lot of challenges with an estimated 250 more cases a month expected to be handled by attorneys in his office.

The public said the thieves or drug-related offenders will be handled as misdemeanors and won’t get nearly the same attention as those cases handled as felonies.

“There are no probation officers when they’re placed on probation,” he said. “It’s a promise to the judge.”

“It is the honor system and it’s really, really tough to help somebody deal with their drug problem on the honor system,” he added. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Obama's Immigration Plan to Be Revealed]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:31:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/immigration-obama-generic-1.jpg President Barack Obama is expected to announce plans that could keep some 5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. legally. NBC 7's Elena Gomez is along the Embarcadero with how this issue is divided among many Americans.]]> <![CDATA[It's a Tie in Chula Vista City Council Race]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:25:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista2.jpg

The razor-thin race for a Chula Vista City Council seat has ended in a tie, two weeks after Election Day, San Diego County officials say.

John McCann and Steve Padilla each won 18,450 votes for the District 1 seat, according to Wednesday's last tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The registrar reports there aren't any other provisional ballots left to be counted that could break that tie.

Ultimately, it will be up to the city of Chula Vista to determine who takes the seat.

Padilla said his campaign is pleased with the results from the provisional ballots.

“We’re just focused on making sure every vote is counted,” Padilla said.

However, McCann told NBC 7 on Wednesday he believes what he called "dirty politics" played a role.

“We had over 900-point lead and every day it seems to continuously vanish. Obviously it raises some questions,” McCann told NBC 7.

The registrar's office will begin making sure all the votes are accurately counted ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline for certifying results.

While Chula Vista is be the second-largest city in San Diego County, the city council race came down to the narrowest of margins as the final 1,000 county-wide provisional ballots were counted Wednesday.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

<![CDATA[Chula Vista City Council Candidates Exactly Tied]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:00:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista-.jpg As of 5 p.m. Monday, the race for the Chula Vista City Council District 1 Seat was a dead tie. Both Republican John McCann and Democrat Steve Padilla have 18,450 votes, with 100 provisional ballots left to be counted countywide. NBC 7’s Omari Fleming has reaction from the candidates and what happens next.]]> <![CDATA[Final Results in for Tight South Bay Races]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:50:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/5PT_PKG_MAIL_BALLOTS_PU_KNSD4HBG_1200x675_313432643791.jpg

More than two weeks after Election Day, final numbers are in for the razor-thin races for Imperial Beach mayor and Chula Vista City Council District 1.

Thursday's last tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters has Serge Dedina ahead of two-term incumbent Jim Janney by 43 votes.

And in historical race, John McCann is exactly tied with Steve Padilla in the race for Chula Vista City Council's District 1 seat. Both have 18,450 votes.

The results will not be certified until Dec. 2.

The Chula Vista City Clerk told NBC 7 a tie has never happened in the city's history, and the winner could now be determined by a coin toss.

According to the Chula Vista charter, election ties will be broken by drawing lots, which could be a flip of a coin or some other game of chance. The exact method has not been determined.

But first, the registrar has 12 days to make sure all the votes were counted accurately. Both McCann and Padilla say they'll wait until Dec. 2 to determine whether they will ask for a recount.

In this and the Imperial Beach races, every single vote mattered.

Of the roughly 11,000 voter in Imperial beach, about 4,000 people cast ballots. That is just slightly higher than the countywide voting average of one in three registered voters.

Dedina said as a longtime resident of the city, the win is an exciting one.

"I've lived here since I was seven years old, hung out on this pier since I was a kid," said Dedina. "I'm still here and it's really exciting, really rewarding."

He said he ran a grassroots campaign based on helping kids and families, walking door-to-door for five months. In that time, Dedina said he reached more voters than Janney did.

For his part, Janney blamed his loss partially on the hotel workers union that backed his opponent.

“I’m disappointed in the way the race went. To lose is not a problem; to lose this way doesn’t feel good,” said and small business owner Janney.

Still, he said he is proud of where Imperial Beach is today and that it will be able to move forward.

Before the results were released, Dedina told NBC 7 he is ready to move on.

“Really, I ran to support neighborhoods and kids in IB, and that’s what we will be doing,” he said.

<![CDATA[San Diego Approves $3.5B Recycled Water Project]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:13:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/water-purification-drought.jpg

With drought relief in California a long way off, San Diegans are now getting a giant step closer to a more reliable, long-term water supply.

By a 9-0 vote Tuesday, the City Council approved a long-envisioned sewage purification system that'll crank out water you can drink.

Experts say it'll likely exceed current water quality standards – while supplying about a third of the city's daily needs and saving big bucks on wastewater treatment costs.

"It originally met with some opposition,” says Matt O’Malley, a water scientist and attorney with San Diego Coastkeeper, a leading local environmental group.

“You have the moniker 'Toilet to Tap' -- it gets thrown around a lot,” O’Malley said in a City Hall interview Tuesday. “But really, what people have to realize is that every source of water they have is recycled many times over. What we're just doing is maximizing that recycling here locally."

“It's better for the environment at the outfall. It's better for us from a water supply perspective," he added.

The concept started small, with a million-gallon-a-day plant in North City, with the goal of reaching 83 million gallons a day 20 years from now.

But much of the $3.5 billion cost of the project could be offset by avoiding expensive federal mandates to ramp up treatment of sewage pumped from the Point Loma Wastewater Plant into the Pacific.

"Half of the flow that goes to Point Loma will be diverted, treated and then re-used,” said city Public Utilites Director Halla Razak. “So the impact to the environment is definitely positive. When you look at the wastewater and the water costs, this is the right solution for San Diego. It's not only more economical, but it provides a local supply that is sustainable and drought-proof."

Critics say the city hasn't explored enough alternatives or conservation measures and that the project would drive up housing costs and encourage real estate speculation by developers.

But backers call it a 'no-brainer'.

"Why are we taking water from hundreds of miles away -- spending all the money and energy to do that -- just to dump it into the ocean?" O’Malley asks. "We're going to need to squeeze very drop, literally, out of the system that we have. So this is a good first step, we think."

The program was recently profiled on the CBS magazine show “60 Minutes.”

San Diego isn't coming all that late to the party, but a number of other cities and water agencies have gotten an early jump on "wastewater re-use" technology.

Orange County is now recycling 70 million gallons a day to 'potable' -- and is soon expected to reach 100 million gallons a day.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District in the San Francisco Bay area is also considering the idea.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[San Diegans Celebrate New Embarcadero Design]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:47:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/embarcadero-opening-1115.jpg

The weather was perfect Saturday for a public celebration of the new look for San Diego’s Embarcadero.

City leaders including Mayor Kevin Faulconer were there Saturday to cut the ribbon to mark the completion of phase one of North Embarcadero Visionary Plan.

The new open space runs along Harbor Drive from the Midway Museum to Grape Street, the most visited area of the waterfront.

"We have more than 100 feet now of walking space, and that's a huge improvement from what it used to be. We actually widened it to make it less car friendly and more pedestrian friendly,” said Tanya Castaneda, spokesperson for the Port of San Diego.

On Saturday, families were invited to view the project firsthand as they enjoyed attractions ranging from food and music to a zip line on the pier and complimentary boat rides.

Among the features of the new embarcadero design is a new information center for the tourists visiting the downtown area. There is also a new building where a restaurant is expected to open next year.

The project began in January 2012 and cost more than $31 million.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[DeMaio: "False Smears" Ruined D52 Campaign]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:46:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gene5p1114_1200x675_358643779580.jpg After his loss for the 52nd Congressional District seat, candidate Carl DeMaio is reflecting on the campaign, saying he was falsely smeared. NBC 7's Gene Cubbison has more on Nov. 14, 2014. ]]> <![CDATA[Committee Vote Could Help Curb "Mini-Dorms"]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:43:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mini-dorm-generic-image.jpg

A San Diego City Council committee approved a proposal to help residents control the number of so-called "mini dorms” near San Diego State University.

The term mini-dorm is used to describe single family homes that are leased to a large number of tenants.

Also called high turnover, high occupancy rentals (HTHO), more than 700 mini-dorms have been reported in the College Area near SDSU.

Bunk beds are used to convert a two-bedroom home into a rental for seven to 10 college students. There have been reports of groups of students sleeping in garages.

The most common complaints range from parking violations to excessive trash or noise.

The College Area Community Council has said that 37 percent of those homes are owned by large businesses looking to profit from the loophole in city code.

In a report released earlier this year, CACC claims that many many violators are not being caught.

The community group says landlords will often tell tenants not to be truthful with the city to avoid paying for code violations.

The Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee met Thursday and approved a proposal to draft new language into the city’s Rooming House Ordinance (RHO).

Since the RHO was approved in 2008, city officials say it has been difficult to enforce because of a difference in language between the ordinance and other city codes. 

The ordinance will now define a rooming house as having three or more rooms, excluding kitchens and bathrooms, rented individually or separately to multiple tenants under separate rental agreements either written or oral.

Thursday's committee vote will move the proposal to the full council for approval. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy CACC
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Carl DeMaio Appears on "Politically Speaking"]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:11:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PolSpeak1114.jpg Carl DeMaio will appear on Politically Speaking 9 a.m. after NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. See clips from Politically Speaking here]]> <![CDATA[Prop 47 Supporters Celebrate Passage]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 08:45:39 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Prop-47-victory-party.jpg At a victory party for Prop 47, NBC 7's Danya Bacchus finds out there are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 felonies convicted each year by the SD County courts and many of those are reducible convictions.]]> <![CDATA[DA Receives 1,000+ Early Release Petitions]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:49:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sb10062143p-001.jpg

Only a week after Proposition 47, a measure aimed at reducing the state’s prison population, took effect, the San Diego County District Attorney’s office has gotten more than 1,000 petitions for reduced sentences and convictions.

The proposition, which took effect November 5, designates non-violent crimes like petty theft, forgery, shoplifting, fraud and possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine as misdemeanors, not felonies. Not only does it affect those being charged with those crimes, but it can retroactively reduce the prison time for those who have already been sentenced.

The DA's office expects to receive 4,600 petitions from 1,800 in-custody offenders, filed by the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender. That number will grow when offenders on probation, parole and post-release community supervision -- as well as inactive cases -- are taken into account.

The public defender’s office may reach as far back as 1990 to resentence certain felonies to misdemeanors. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office estimates it convicts 20,000 to 25,000 felonies a year, and many of those are reducible convictions under voter-approved Proposition 47.

Because of the measure, deputies in San Diego County have been directed to no longer arrest people suspected of receiving stolen property or theft under $950. Instead, the suspects are required to sign a citation, promising to appear in court.

While San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore says the department will still arrest and book anyone charged with possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana, he says Prop 47 eliminates the deterrent to certain crime.

“They can get arrested one, two, three, 20 times. Nothing changes,” said Gore.

The crimes made misdemeanors by Prop 47 can only be charged as felonies under specific circumstances, said Gore. That’s if the suspect has been convicted of a crime that requires mandatory registration as a sex offender or carries a sentence of life in prison or death.

Also in that category are suspects with prior convictions for murder, attempted murder, assaulting a police officer with a machine gun, or possessing a weapon of mass destruction. Other violent crimes like carjacking or assault and battery do not qualify.

Without the threat of a felony or arrest, except under the aforementioned circumstances, critics are concerned for public safety.

“I think we’ll see a rise in property crimes: the thefts, the drugs, and then hopefully we won’t see a rise in violent crime,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney David Greenberg. “But a lot of folks that do residential burglaries are drug addicts because they need to steal to support their habit, so those are serious and dangerous crimes and some bad things can happen, especially if you surprise someone during a burglary.”

But some believe there’s enough evidence in states with similar laws to suggest Prop 47 is still good policy.

Public policy analyst Laura Fink told NBC 7 in most states with similar laws, prison populations have been reduced, but so have crime rates.

“Clearly this is something that has worked in the past,” Fink said. “It’s something we’ll need to keep our eye on but it has a lot of promise.”

The savings to the state achieved by reduced prison and jail populations won't be calculated until 2016, and it'll take longer to divide the saved money among rehabilitation programs as the measure intended.

That has critics like Gore asking how and where the offenders will receive treatment if they're being released.

Because of this, the San Diego City Attorney's office, which handles misdemeanor prosecution within city limits, anticipates 3,000 more cases a year.

A spokesperson for that office told NBC 7 it’s putting together a plan to handle the increased workload. In the meantime, the DA’s office has offered to loan the city attorney’s office two of its attorneys.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]> <![CDATA[Chula Vista City Council Race Tightens]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:53:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chula-Vista-City-Council-05.jpg

If you thought the fight for Chula Vista City Council Seat No. 1, couldn’t get closer, it has.

Only 66 votes separate the candidates.

Republican candidate John McCann is hanging on to a slight lead with 18,334 votes. Democratic candidate Steve Padilla is gaining some steam at 18,268 votes as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Still, both candidates are calling each other out right until the very end.

“We know the truth,” McCann said. “My opponent ran the dirtiest campaign in Chula Vista history, and we know we did the right thing and we know we will continue to support the citizens and not the special interests."

McCann showed NBC 7 a mailer which, he says, shows Padilla supporters defaming him by insinuating he was sentenced to a felony and was involved in the Sweetwater pay-to-play scandal.

Meanwhile, McCann says Padilla was kicked out of mayoral office and had a staffer convicted of a felony.

Padilla says he is proud of the campaign he ran and will continue fighting for what’s right for Chula Vista families.

“I’m sorry that Mr. McCann is upset that we drew attention to his record at Sweetwater,” Padilla said. “He doesn’t seem to like to be accountable for his decisions unless they make him look good, but that’s not what leadership is about. That’s not what public responsibility is about.”

The County Registrar of Voters says it still has 14,000 mail-in and provisional ballots left to count.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Political Landscape Red v Blue]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 20:31:00 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PolSpeakSeg1_1110.jpg T.J. O'Hara, author, national political commentator and 2012 independent Presidential candidate and, Erik Bruvold, political scientist at the National University System Institute for Policy Research, a La Jolla-based think tank discuss with NBC 7's Gene Cubbison on Politically Speaking. ]]> <![CDATA[Peters Still Leading DeMaio in D52 Race]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 17:41:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/scott+peters+carl+demaio.JPG

The latest numbers show incumbent Democrat Scott Peters beating Republican challenger Carl DeMaio in the highly contentious race for the 52nd Congressional District.

The San Diego County Registrar released new vote tallies at 4 p.m. Saturday. Peters currently has 94,301 votes, or 51.3 percent, while DeMaio has 89,530 votes, or 48.7 percent. The candidates are separated by 4,771 votes.

The county notes there are about 74,000 mail-in and provisional ballots still to be counted. It is unclear how many of those ballots are from District 52.

DeMaio was leading after Election Night, but Peters' lead has since been expanding.

Check back for updates.

<![CDATA[SDPD Investigated Emails Sent to DeMaio Accuser: Warrants]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 22:46:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Demaio-Peters-Pol-Speak_2.jpg

Search warrant affidavits unsealed Friday show San Diego Police investigated several anonymous, harassing emails sent to former Carl DeMaio campaign staffer Todd Bosnich, who later accused the candidate of sexual harassment.

One of the eight affidavits, obtained by NBC 7 Investigates through a San Diego Superior Court judge, states: “Bosnich provided Sergeant Holden a printed email sent to him on June 2, 2014 from an email account (redacted). The sender wrote ‘Todd, your attempt to lie will quickly be rebuffed by facts. And in your own words no less.’

Forwarded with that email was a message sent to Victoria Znorski, Bosnich’s mother, by Bosnich on May 23.

In that correspondence, Znorksi asked Bosnich if he was still getting paid. Bosnich responded and asked his mother to leave him alone because he was responsible for a “huge f--k up” and had to be fired as the campaign’s policy director.

Znorksi later met with police and told them she doesn’t remember receiving the email from Bosnich and doesn’t think she ever sent him an email asking Bosnich if he was still getting paid by the DeMaio campaign.

NBC 7 Investigates had previously asked Bosnich and his attorney about that email when it was provided to us by someone close to the DeMaio campaign.

Bosnich’s attorney Bibi Fell said Bosnich didn’t send this email either. It “was sent after Todd was fired and his access to his carldemaio.com email address had been cut off,” said Fell.

The anonymous emails sent to Bosnich were the subject of FBI interviews with potential witnesses in late October, sources confirmed.

In a CNN interview that aired Oct. 10, Bosnich accused DeMaio of unwelcome touching and repeated sexual harassment.

DeMaio called the allegations “outrageous lies” and in turn accused Bosnich of a May campaign headquarters break-in during which campaign information was stolen.

The San Diego District Attorney and the SDPD both said there was not enough evidence in either the harassment case or the break-in case to file charges.

But the search warrants also reveal that Bosnich was the one who gave confidential DeMaio campaign information to his opponent in the race for the 52nd Congressional District, Scott Peters. Read more about that revelation by clicking here.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Bosnich Gave Peters Campaign Docs: Warrants]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 16:28:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/carl+demaio+scott+peters.JPG

The man who accused Carl DeMaio of sexual harassment is the same person who provided confidential campaign documents to DeMaio’s opponent Scott Peters, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The newly unsealed search warrant affidavits, obtained by NBC 7 Investigates, show the Peters campaign held on to the controversial documents for four days before alerting the authorities.

Those campaign documents are described as “DeMaio’s media plan” in 211-pages of eight search warrant affidavits issued between the dates of June 13 through August 14.

DeMaio and Peters have been battling it out to serve California’s 52nd Congressional district. As of Friday night, Congressman Peters was leading Republican challenger DeMaio by 4,491 votes.

According to the court documents, Todd Bosnich gave Peters’ campaign manager, MaryAnne Pintar, printed proofs of the mailers from Carl DeMaio’s campaign and a CD containing a recording of his June interview with KFMB’s Mike Slater.

Pintar told a detective that former Demaio campaign staffer -- Bosnich – gave her the DeMaio campaign documents and a CD, on June 5, according to the search warrants.

Pintar told police she took the documents home and copied them.

She gave the originals to her boss, Congressman Peters, the next day. Peters then gave those materials to his wife, Lynn Gorguze, according to the search warrants.

The Peters’ campaign kept the documents and the CD for “three more days," according to the search warrant affidavits.

It wasn’t until June 9 that the Peters’ campaign told police they had DeMaio’s campaign strategy documents. The search warrants detail a phone conversation between Pintar and a detective, where Pintar provides a play-by-play of how she obtained the documents from Bosnich.

The DeMaio campaign headquarters was broken into and vandalized May 28. Cords and cables were cut, water was poured over laptops and printers, computer screens were smashed in and one important item was taken: DeMaio’s campaign playbook.

On an October 17 episode of “Politically Speaking,” DeMaio confronted Peters about the book.

“And Mr. Peters, I just want to ask a very simple question. Did your campaign come into possession of our strategy book, all of our direct mail pieces in the last five months?” asked DeMaio.

Peters responded with: “In early June, information was forwarded to our campaign which we immediately turned over to the police.”

DeMaio pressed the issue, asking Peters why he did not let his opponent’s campaign know that he had seen DeMaio’s playbook all along. (The Peters campaign disputes the information provided by Bosnich should be considered a "playbook.")

“I’ve obviously never seen it,” said Peters. “We turned it directly over to the police within 24 hours of getting it because what was contained in it was potentially part of a criminal investigation.”

A Superior Court judge unsealed the more than 200 pages of documents Friday. The documents were part of a police investigation into the DeMaio campaign office break-in and Bosnich’s claims of sexual harassment.

The District Attorney and San Diego Police investigated the sexual harassment claims and the break-in but no charges were filed.

NBC 7 Investigates reached Pintar, who said she was confused about the dates because she was on vacation. She later said that when Peters said the information was turned over in 24-hours, he was referring to emails Pintar received that she immediately forwarded to the police.

Throughout the campaign, both candidates and Bosnich have made a variety of claims against  each other. The interviews referred to in these search warrant affidavits do show that Bosnich and DeMaio have been consistent in their explanation of what happened. They did not change their stories, either to police or to reporters, in the final, especially bitter days, of this Congressional campaign.

Bosnich said everything that he gave to Pintar were items that he had been working on and had access to without breaking-in to DeMaio’s offices.

“If I had given Pintar information that only Carl had access to in this so-called “bible” or “playbook,” I’d be in jail right now,” Bosnich said, adding that he had worked on many of the mailers he provided to Pintar. “And that’s exactly why they didn’t prosecute me.”

In an official statement, Pintar said:

“Rep. Peters and I contacted the police chief within 24 hours of receiving initial information from Bosnich on May 29. I didn't meet with Bosnich until June 5 and that is when he gave me the documents. Peters and I both left town shortly after that on planned travel and the first time I spoke with the detective, I told him about what was given to me and we made it available for pick-up.”

On Saturday afternoon, Peters tweeted the following: 

"@mapintar is a talented & high-integrity. Re disturbing news she thought only about going the right thing re poss victim and crime. She did." 

"If I misstated the timeline it's on me not @mapintar. We asked for law enforcement, didn't comment for politics and helped cops. Still will." 

Ed. Note: Pintar called NBC 7 after this initial story was published and asked that we change her statement. It originally said: “Rep. Peters and I contact the police chief within 24 hours to report the meeting with Bosnich. He and I both left town shortly after that on planned travel and the first time I spoke with the detective, I told him about what was given to me and we made it available for pick-up.”

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Peters Vs. DeMaio: New Election Results Released]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 21:25:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/4PW_PKG_52ND_VOTING_DAT_KNSD55UG_1200x675_353354819531.jpg

Highly anticipated new numbers show U.S. Rep. Scott Peters has a 4,491-vote lead over challenger Carl DeMaio Friday afternoon, after a late-week shakeup in the race for the 52nd Congressional District.

“We are thrilled with today’s vote update, particularly given the tough Election Night Democrats had across the country," said Peters' Campaign Manager MaryAnne Pintar in a statement. "This lead reflects the support Rep. Peters received from across the political spectrum and the tremendous Get Out the Vote effort by our field staff and hundreds of volunteers over the weekend and on Election Day."

NBC 7 has reached out to the DeMaio campaign and is waiting for a response.

Given Friday's vote-count posting in the hot-tempered 52nd Congressional District race, it seems oddsmakers would have to favor Peters, the first-term Democratic incumbent, to finish in the winner’s circle.

Polling experts say GOP challenger Carl DeMaio might need a final surge greater than his highest margins in the early going.

What could be keeping DeMaio and/or his backers awake at night is the scenario he suffered in the 2012 mayor's race: leading early in the vote count, only to have Bob Filner blast by him at the end.

Can he overtake Peters, with the decreasing number of ballots left to tabulate?

"Let us look forward to the counting of all votes,” DeMaio told a gathering of enthusiastic supporters on Election Night. “I am very confident we will have that great opportunity to take our 'New Generation' ideals to Washington."

That confidence on Tuesday morphed into concern by Thursday evening.

Momentum had turned against Team DeMaio -- and toward Team Peters, as did the momentum in Peters’ 2012 victory over three-term Republican incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray.

This time, Peters is leading in a race where GOP voters showed up in force as they always do for mid-term elections.

"And what's really interesting about the 52nd race is that those voters didn't go for Carl DeMaio,” says Scott Lewis, editor-in-chief of Voice of San Diego.

“In large part, for some of the east-of-15, some parts of Point Loma -- some of the Republican strangleholds -- there was a very pronounced over-performance for Scott Peters in those districts,” Lewis added in a recording session for Sunday’s edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” program. “Which means that Republicans -- in a wave of Republican enthusiasm across the country -- voted for Scott Peters more than you might imagine."

Political strategists doubt that the sexual harassment allegations against DeMaio, coming late in the campaign, had great impact on the numbers.

Nor do they see major fallout from the bizarre caper involving a break-in at DeMaio’s campaign headquarters, with a stolen strategy binder winding up in the hands of Peters’ staff.

But they think the opposition’s strategy of depicting DeMaio as a tool of the Tea Party did take a toll.

"Across the country, the polls have shown that the name 'Tea Party' is really venomous, it really kills things,” says Republican political consultant John Dadian. “ Which is why the (Peters) campaign did their due diligence and put their money into several ads that emphasized the Tea Party. That was one of the major points that the Peters campaign knew was going to work."

There's also a school of thought that DeMaio shouldn't have chosen a different campaign team for his Congressional race than the one he had for his mayoral race.

“He surrounded himself with people who would take his orders, basically,” says Lewis. "He didn’t have a campaign manager or campaign consultant. He made a point of saying ‘This is the best campaign team I’ve ever had. But the fact is, they under-performed the entire country.”

Either way, DeMaio is playing catch-up now.

And he’s feverishly soliciting money to bankroll ballot-counting observers and a potential recount, if a final margin of defeat is small enough to make the effort cost-effective.

“I need your help,” DeMaio said in an email sent to campaign supporters Thursday evening. “We have hired a team of observers to monitor the counting process. We did not plan on this in the budget.”

<![CDATA[New Results Released in D52 Race]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 21:47:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Demaio-Peters-Pol-Speak_2.jpg

An updated tally puts U.S. Rep. Scott Peters ahead of challenger Carl DeMaio by 861 votes in the tight race for the 52nd Congressional District.

A final, certified winner will not be announced until Monday.

After Election Night Tuesday, candidate Carl DeMaio led by fewer than a 1,000 votes, but both said they were optimistic about the outcome.

DeMaio spokesman Dave McCulloch was at the county Registrar of Voters Office Thursday as the numbers were announced to give his take. 

"As you said, those numbers have changed a lot, and we still remain optimistic but cautious in that. There is still more data to be analyzed, there are still more votes to be counted and we want to make sure that every vote is counted in this election," he said.

Peters is out of town with his family, but his campaign manager MaryAnne Pinter released the following statement: 

“We are very pleased with tonight’s result and continue to remain optimistic that Rep. Scott Peters will return to the 114th Congress. We are grateful for the hard work and professionalism of the entire team at the County Registrar of Voters. We also want to express tremendous gratitude to all our friends, supporters and volunteers who kept the faith with us over the last 24 hours.”

On Thursday, dozens of representatives from both campaigns monitored registrar workers as they counted thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots.

They sorted out the 52nd district ballots to get them counted first because this race is being watched closely on a national level.

Each campaign’s election observers literally stood over employees’ shoulders as they verify signatures.

"Observers may have questions or concerns, at which point they raise a hand and one of our supervisors comes and talks to them, they'll take a look at it and fill out a form," said Registrar Michael Vu. "What I saw is there weren't too many challenges at this point."

Another round of updated numbers is expected Friday afternoon.

The highly anticipated results come at the end of an antagonistic race, peppered with allegedly stolen campaign information, sexual harassment allegations, mudslinging and attack ads.

Six days before June’s primary election, DeMaio reported a break-in at his campaign headquarters. Computer screens were shattered, cords and cables were cut, water was poured over the electronics and DeMaio’s campaign strategy book disappeared, the candidate said.

In a taping of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking” in October, Peters said he felt as if he’d initially been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, though DeMaio later accused former staffer Todd Bosnich.

DeMaio alleged he was the break-in culprit at the same time Bosnich released the results of a polygraph test to support his claims that the candidate sexually harassed him.

In a CNN report on Oct. 10, Bosnich said he was the victim of unwelcome touching and repeated sexual harassment by DeMaio while working for him on the congressional campaign and during his 2012 mayoral run. Bosnich described an alleged incident where he was called to DeMaio’s office and the candidate exposed himself.

DeMaio denied the allegations, saying his former employee had “manufactured a story” to cover for a plagiarism incident.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and the Chief of San Diego Police announced on Oct. 20 there is not enough evidence to press charges in Bosnich's claim or DeMaio's counterclaim.

Over the weekend, another former campaign staffer, Justin Harper, told KPBS DeMaio had exposed himself in a restroom on July 10, an accusation the DeMaio campaign called an “outrageous lie.”

On Sunday, protesters outside DeMaio's campaign headquarters demanded an apology for sexist emails they say he sent.

Their claim stems from an email DeMaio purportedly sent in January featuring a demeaning image of a Peters campaign aide. DeMaio has denied sending the email and told the UT San Diego that Bosnich fabricated it.

The tension in the race was evident in a failed handshake moment just before the taping of a "NBC 7 Politically Speaking" episode, when DeMaio did not accept Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Weary D52 Candidates Both Optimistic About Final Results ]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:15:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DeMaio-Peters-June-Primary.jpg

The long, divisive road to the 52nd Congressional District seat stretches on for its two weary candidates, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, as officials prepare Thursday to start counting around 46,000 still-uncounted ballots.

Exhausted by a late election night that left DeMaio leading by just 752 votes, both candidates are trying to put a positive spin on the numbers.

“This is a historically bad night for Democrats, turnout historically low, and the fact that we're even close is a miracle. I think we're going to win this thing," Peters said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The initial surge of results had DeMaio in the lead, but as the late ballots came in Tuesday night, the trend was in favor of Peters.

But DeMaio was just as confident that his campaign will come out on top.

“I believe when all votes are counted, we will prevail, and I will have the honor of being San Diego’s voice in the U.S. Congress,” he said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters says there were 36,000 mail-in ballots and 10,000 provisional ballots from the 52nd District to be counted, and all were sorted Wednesday.

On Thursday, the counting starts on those 46,000 ballots. Both candidates are sending representatives to make sure each vote is counted correctly.

The registrar is expected to release more numbers Thursday evening, and a final winner should be announced Monday.

But even after the ballots were cast, the biting comments remained.

When asked if he is prepared for a recount in the event of a very close final tally, DeMaio replied, “After what Mr. Peters has done in this campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.”

Peters’ response later in the day: “I think the campaign's over now. We can get past the hard feelings, stop whining. You know, let's just count the votes."

With nothing to do but wait, both candidates had time to reflect on their contentious campaigns and their plans for the future.

DeMaio will be hopping a plane to Washington, D.C., next week to attend the Congressional freshman orientation.

“What I emphasized last night was that my candidacy hopefully is the beginning of the Republican Party becoming more inclusive, of us getting past labels and putting people in boxes,” the gay candidate said.

While DeMaio zeroed in on reforming his own party, Peters said his focus will be reaching across the aisle in the now Republican-led Congress.

"Well the middle is my territory. I don't think there's enough of us who want to be in the middle,” he said. “I think one of the problems with Congress is it's so polarized and what I offer is a promise that I will always work with anybody."

Voters will continue to watch the results of the race closely, but the end of election season brings one thing both sides can be thankful for: no more political ads.

<![CDATA[Governor Jerry Brown Talks Next Four Years]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 08:34:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tlmd_jerry_brown2.jpg

The day after he was elected to an unprecedented fourth term in a landslide victory, Governor Jerry Brown sat down with reporters to discuss the next four years.

Sitting at the end of the cedar picnic table in the middle of his Sacramento office, Brown spoke of the future and of the past.

"I don't like to think about my last campaign. I find it a depressing thought," Brown said.

The governor said the next four years would remain "balancing act."

"Certainly I'd like to keep the state on an even fiscal keel," he said. "But I also want to build things — the water, the  high speed rail, the reform of criminal law, realignment — these are big things."

The governor said he wants to phase out the income and sales tax hikes from Prop. 30, passed two years ago.

He argued passage of Propositions 1 and 2 — dealing with water storage and a budget reserve — was a sign that unlike Washington, California is not in political gridlock.

He spoke of the legacy of his family.

Father Pat Brown served two terms as governor and his great-grandfather, August Schuckman, a German born immigrant, who came to California in 1852.

"I take comfort and inspiration from my own forebears, who didn't sit around, waiting, but forged ahead, against great obstacles," he said.

As for this being his last political office, Brown quipped, There are others to run for. Now that we have an incumbent superintendent of instruction, there'll be a vacancy in four years."

Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[When Will We Know Final Election Results?]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:06:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/5PT_PKG_MAIL_BALLOTS_PU_KNSD4HBG_1200x675_313432643791.jpg San Diego is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the hotly contest 52nd Congressional District race. But as NBC 7’s Danya Bacchus explains, that won’t happen until 5 p.m. Thursday when 180,000 mail-in and provisional ballots have been counted. ]]>