When he isn’t customizing homes, Ted Hilton wants to customize the law — specifically, to make life much more difficult for undocumented immigrants.

In this weekend’s Q&A, one of the forces behind a proposed 2010 ballot initiative that would ban public benefits for some immigrants and their U.S.-born children, talks about “birth tourism,” the surrender of American sovereignty and the prospect of ordering prisoners to wash dishes and work in fields.

How long does it take to spend $2.1 billion for school facilities? Longer than people originally thought: San Diego school officials say the timeline is now 16 years. “That means that the school district is scrambling to reschedule the projects, while trying to avoid the creeping costs of inflation over time.”

The big question remains: Who gets the money first?

When it comes to wildfire safety, there’s another question to be answered: Do people in high-risk areas have a right to electricity at all times?

Despite intense criticism, SDG&E is pushing a plan to shut off power to parts of the backcountry when the risk of wildfire is high. The plan “may not be a perfect solution,” two San Diego City Council members write in a commentary, “but we are operating under imperfect conditions, and we need to protect ourselves by supporting this proactive effort.”

It’s been a wild week elsewhere in the voiceofsandiego.org opinion-o-sphere. A column by our Scott Lewis about the mayor’s national public-relations campaign spawned dozens of comments — and counting.

One commenter describes a local newspaperman as a “cranky monkey with the trots,” while another goes old school and simply calls the mayor a “coward.”‘

Lewis himself comes in for abuse as commenters accuse him of youthful callowness, “whippersnapper bravado” and wrong-headed drum-beating.

But others like his perspective and are ready to start chanting “Run, Scott, run!”

Save your breath: He’s ours. And City Hall can’t have him.

In images, our photographer offers a few more shots of life in downtown’s East Village. He has a special touch at capturing everyday moments, especially from a distance.

Elsewhere, the U-T looks at the $21 million cruise ship terminal being built downtown and finds there’s debate over whether it will include “any meaningful public space.”

“Anything that’s available on that pier for the public is an afterthought,” says one critic.

The Coffee Collection (If you missed these good reads this week, check them out over a cup of java).

Disabled Left in Lurch: Four years ago, a local transportation agency formed to help the disabled get around more easily. For people with disabilities like cerebral palsy, simply taking a ride from Escondido to San Diego can be a nightmare of logistic challenges.

What happened? Management problems and misplaced priorities. But things are finally looking up.

Butterflies Are Free, R&D Is Expensive: Some animals are pretty, and some are pretty smart. Both kinds are inspiring scientists who are churning out products inspired by the world around us.

In essence, they’re letting nature do some of their thinking for them. San Diego could end up being a worldwide center for this kind of assisted research.

Quote of the week: “I didn’t really understand the exact title.” — Jeff Perwin, unsuccessful 2008 candidate for state assembly. Until a week ago, his website identified him as “California Republican Party State Senator, 39th District.”

The actual state senator for that district is Christine Kehoe, a Democrat. Perwin, who also called himself a state senator in a visit to our office, said he was confused about a position given to winners of local Republican primaries.


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