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The Voice of San Diego Podcast

VOSD’s Friday roundup of the past week’s news in brief, featuring interviews with special guests and more.

Feb 16, 2018

Bonnie Dumanis' more than three decades of public service have earned her a hefty annual pension of $268,800.

The former district attorney is now running for a County Board of Supervisors seat, and last month The San Diego-Union Tribune uncovered that she had hired a legal team to look into whether she could continue collecting her pension even if she wins a seat on the county Board of Supervisors, where she could earn a sizable salary as well.

Dumanis' political consultant told the U-T that despite the inquiry, Dumanis never intended to accept a county supervisor salary. But records obtained by the U-T did not mention that she planned to decline her salary.

Lawmakers had largely banned "double dipping" — simultaneously earning a public pension and a government salary — but the practice is back for most elected officials in California, thanks to laws passed quietly in two recent budget bills.

On Wednesday, Dumanis held a meeting with reporters where she again said she will not accept a salary if elected. On this week's podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts discuss Dumanis' strange explanation for why she didn't say she wouldn't collect a salary on top of her pension while her lawyers were fighting for her right to collect a salary on top of her pension.

She said it's because her official campaign – which everyone thought was officially announced in September  – doesn't begin until March.

"I have not announced formally yet," she told KUSI. "But I have always intended to not take the salary of a supervisor and just keep my pension, which I have earned after 35 years of service."

Also on the podcast, Lewis is seething over ReserveCalifornia, California State Parks' new online system for reserving camping and lodging reservations. He says it's the worst.

Pushing for a Different Kind of DA's Office

Geneviéve Jones-Wright, a Democrat and public defender running for district attorney, joined the podcast this week to discuss her reform-minded campaign.

She said the district attorney's office needs to shift from its tough-on-crime mindset and instead spend some resources on building community trust and preventing crime.

"The district attorney's office should be looking at other ways to address public safety," she said. "I think that when you're constantly focusing on convictions, you don't have the right focus."

Jones-Wright had harsh words for former Dumanis and the County Board of Supervisors. She called the way in which Dumanis stepped down and promoted a preferred replacement, whom the board appointed to the interim position, a corrupt succession plan.

"This is a democracy," Jones-Wright said. "This is not a monarchy. We don't have a queen who sits on the throne and says you know what, this is the person that's going to succeed me, this is how this is going to happen."

She also talks about her stance on the prosecutorial and prison reforms in initiatives like Prop. 57 and Prop. 47, her take on the death penalty and more.

Hero of the Week

This week's hero is the San Diego Unified School District, which this week reversed course and will no longer send debt collectors after parents who are late to pay their children’s school bus fees. A recent Voice of San Diego story revealed that in the 2014-2015 school year alone, the district referred 380 parents to a collections agency.

Goat of the Week

The city's water department gets goated for its initial dodging of responsibility for overblown water bills received by many residents, a problem the city later acknowledged was likely its fault.