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SDG&E would like to be able to shut off power to the backcountry when conditions threaten to spark wildfires, but the company’s chief operating officer says it’s a small price to pay.

“Having an impact on 8,000 to 10,000 people once or twice a year to benefit three million people in the county is something we think is a good trade off,” Michael Niggli tells us in this weekend’s Q&A feature.

Niggli also talks about how the utility is dealing with people who need electricity to survive, and he discusses the possibility that shutting power could actually raise the risk of fire.

He also offers some criticism: “I think we would all feel better if all the entities involved would have done more in the county for preparedness.”

In other news on our site:

  • The five county supervisors control $10 million in grant funds destined for local non-profits. Despite a $50 million budget shortfall during the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the supervisors doled out $300,000 to fund a Verdi opera, $16,000 to build batting cages and $3,497 for a Sandy Claws holiday dog festival (a “tail waggin’ good time for the whole family!”).

    The pooches may out of luck this year. New proposed policies would tighten the rules and require more disclosure.

    As we’ve reported over the past few years, two supervisors have funneled grant money to organizations that sent them on international trips — that’s now illegal — and people associated with grant recipients have made political contributions.

  • The San Diego City Council next week will discuss reform of two scandal-plagued redevelopment agencies — the Centre City Development Corp. and Southeastern Economic Development Corp. To inspire some debate over the holiday weekend, we’ve posted thoughts from a UCSD doctoral student who thinks the proposal fixes some problems but creates even more new ones.
  • The Chargers won last night, and we’ve got photos of the action on the field.
  • In other publications, San Diego water rates may be going up again (U-T) and actor Tom Selleck, who saw a judge about a horse, won his case in a Vista courtroom. (NCT, from which we borrowed that line.)
  • Could Sarah Palin have been getting some San Diego sun this summer? The Washington Post thinks so: it reports that the former guv was spotted at an apartment complex in town, pecking away at a laptop by the pool with husband and kids in tow.

    The neighborhood appears to be Carmel Valley. A local says no one noticed the Palins “until one family found themselves chatting in the pool with a little girl named Piper who told them her younger brother was named Trig.”

    Eh, that could be anyone.

The Coffee Collection:

  • The Little Town in the City: Few people have heard of the colorful South Bay community of Lincoln Acres, and as our profile shows, that suits its residents just fine.
  • Failing School Under Pressure Students at South Bay’s Montgomery High have scored so poorly that the state is threatening to take over the school. Now, a new principal is launching a last-ditch effort to turn things around.
  • Quote of the week: “I did not say these were current numbers. You did not ask, ‘Were these current numbers?’” — Carol Wallace, CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., on providing inaccurate information to a reporter.


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