The Morning Report
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Airport Board Won’t Ground Pricey Meals

When they travel on business, employees of San Diego’s airport authority get to live large, all courtesy of public funding. They have no daily caps on expenses for out-of-town meals, and they’ve used this freedom to pay for dinners costing up to almost $100.

That’s not going to change, the agency’s board decided yesterday. By a 6-1 vote, it decided to allow employees to use their own judgment when it comes to meal expenses.

In the past, their judgment led to dinner bills of $85, $84, and even $99.73. The latter came at a $600-a-night hotel in Switzerland.

Who funds the airport authority? You do, if you fly. The money comes from rent paid by airport stores (including the ones that charge you $3.02 for a bottle of water) plus fees galore for parking, renting a car and flying itself.

In other news:

  • Go down by the border and you’ll see barren hillsides near the Tijuana Estuary. There are no plants growing there, as our reporter discovered when he visited several weeks ago. This is a problem, as we’ve reported, because of the threat that erosion poses to a lush salt marsh nearby. But the federal government thinks there’s actually something on those hillsides: plants. You just can’t see them, an official says.
  • There’s a simple reason why you can’t see them: Because, as we noted, they aren’t there Here’s an idea: Cut dozens of civilian positions from the San Diego Police Department and save lots of money. Voila! Another painful step toward eliminating a big fat budget deficit. Not so fast, says a union rep: those people help bring in revenue by issuing tickets and citations. If they go, so goes the income they bring. The cuts could end up costing more than they save. Uh-uh, says the mayor’s office, which says sworn officers will take over the duties. We check out the arguments on both sides.
  • Remember our story about the local music teacher who’s been helping troubled kids for four decades? Our partners at the Media Arts Center visited him for a video profile
  • Our Photo of the Day is a blast from the past, and today’s accompanying photo soundtrack is courtesy of singer Robert Cray. 
  • Finally, we’d like to hear about your experiences if you’ve dealt with the county in regard to food stamps, welfare and medical care.

Elsewhere:

  • An audit, the U-T reports, says the city of San Diego is doing a poor job of collecting certain kinds of fees — more than $4 million worth of them, to be exact.
  • If persistence is the problem, maybe the city should talk to the folks who recently managed to track down a guy over a supposedly unpaid19-year-old traffic ticket.
  • Earlier this week, we linked to a Watchdog Institute/U-T investigative story about local sex offenders and a CityBeat blog post questioning the coverage. Now, the institute has responded
  • CityBeat checks a new trove of data about congressional expenditures and finds that the five local House reps have spent more than $4.2 million this year for staff salaries and other expenses. 
  • CBS News reports on the UCSD project to analyze the brain of a famous amnesiac. The brain slicing is taking place live online.
  • We’ve written about the science behind this research, which could give us insight into much more than how we forget where we put the remote control. Although that would be good to know too.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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