The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.

First, water officials claimed that it wouldn’t be practical to switch the city of San Diego to a rate system that encourages conservation by sending higher bills to those who use more water than is reasonable for their property. Up the road in Irvine, San Diego officials said, the conversion took a very long time.

In fact, it took a year.

Earlier this month, a new hurdle appeared: the city’s top water boss said the approach could open the city to “significant legal challenge potential” — as in, a lawsuit.

That’s questionable, as our research shows. Attorneys tell us that such a rate system is clearly legal, and other water districts already use it. But a mayoral spokesman insists “it is a gray area.”

In other news:

  • Last week, San Diego’s city attorney indicated that the city could outsource services to private companies without giving municipal employees a chance to compete. Now, the mayor’s office is neutral, for the moment, and accusations — along with a barnyard epithet — are flying.
  • Our reporter Keegan Kyle took assignments from readers yesterday and found plenty to report:

    While a new state law says it can in some cases, San Diego isn’t requiring convicted graffiti taggers to keep the surfaces they defaced clean for a year.

    Also: It’s not clear if traffic sweeps are making a difference in collision rates.

    Residents don’t get a percentage of parking-ticket proceeds if the city puts no-parking signs on their lawns.

    And: Readers wondered about Councilman Marti Emerald’s 20-member “Citizens Advisory Council,” which she mentioned earlier this week. Who are they?

    Beats us. An Emerald staffer said her office is consulting city attorneys before talking to us.

  • Also on our site today: Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s chief of staff is out of a job. And we explain how we came across the remarkable story of the San Marcos man who was shot seven times and lived.
  • Elsewhere: The U-T reports that “crews can continue cleaning out clogged Tijuana River flood-control channels after a judge refused Thursday to stop the work.”
  • According to authorities, “the Carlsbad office of self-help guru James Arthur Ray was searched Thursday in connection with the deaths of two people during a sweat lodge ceremony last week” in Arizona. The deaths are being investigated as homicides; ceremony participants suggested in a conference call with Ray that the victims died by choice. (NCT, AP)
  • San Diego Reader columnist Patrick Daugherty defends the honor of late baseball hero and San Diego native Ted Williams, now a “grisly, macabre joke” because of alleged follies involving his frozen head.
  • Finally, yesterday’s Balloon Boy drama made me think about another time a child in jeopardy gripped the nation.

    In April 1949, a three-year-old girl named Kathy Fiscus fell down a well near Los Angeles. Radio stations and a new TV station covered the frantic search for her live, and newspapers in London and Stockholm reportedly wouldn’t print their editions until they got updates. But the girl died before she could be found.

    “This was the first time people had experienced the importance of live television,” L.A. newsman Stan Chambers said a half-century later. “We didn’t know it existed before.”

    Kathy Fiscus is buried at Glen Abbey Memorial Park in the South Bay community of Bonita. Her family had lived earlier in neighboring Chula Vista; they later moved to the Escondido area.

    The memorial plaque at her grave reads: “One Little Girl Who United the World for a Moment.”

— RANDY DOTINGA

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