“Oh my goodness.” That’s what Jose Lopez said when we told him his water use had increased 45 percent in the last four years.
Lopez is a board member at the Otay Water District, and like the rest of the dozens of people who oversee water policy and pricing in San Diego County, Lopez’ water use is public record. We pulled all of their data and put some of them into a chart. Most either cut or maintained their water use steady. But some, like Sweetwater’s Ted Muehleisen, saw their use go up dramatically though they hadn’t realized it (after we talked to him, Muehleisen gave his son a timer for showers and discovered a major leak in his swimming pool).
The survey demonstrated that “even those in charge of our water supplies can have trouble controlling their use if they’re not paying attention.”
In other news:
• The Southeastern Economic Development Corp. has been trying to convince residents of Greater Logan Heights that if they don’t want their neighborhoods to be in the redevelopment zone, it won’t happen. And, officials at SEDC are trying to assure residents that, if it does happen, they won’t see homes snapped up with eminent domain procedures.
But apparently they’re not very convincing. As we write: “Activists there have mobilized to oppose any plan that would give the city-run Southeastern Economic Development Corp. power to collect a share of property tax revenue from the community that it could reinvest to promote development there.”
• Last week, we ran a statement through the Fact Check that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis made claiming OxyContin was the “leading cause of drug-related deaths in San Diego County.”
She was wrong, it’s actually No. 7 behind alcohol, methamphetamine, heroin and a few others. This came in context of a large-scale re-evaluation going on about whether the drug should be the top priority of public safety and health officials. County and federal leaders recently renamed the OxyContin Task Force, now deciding to call it the Prescription Drug Task Force.
This weekend, the North County Times has given us even more reason to question recent claims that OxyContin use has become a killer epidemic among high school students and people in their 20s.
The NC Times says hold on: “Data collected from 2006 to 2009 suggest official statements about the extent of the problem and its reach among people under 25 have been overstated and, in some cases, misleading.”
• Speaking of prescription drugs, the U-T’s Brent Schrotenboer has been pulling together a series of interesting updates about the pharmaceutical distributor Chargers and Padres doctors used. Jason Kim’s company, RSF Pharmaceuticals, surrendered its federal license on June 30. Schrotenboer’s latest is a profile of the pharmacist Kim, who is “a rising star in the industry.”
• The mayor and boosters of a new main library downtown repeatedly assured residents that the $185 million facility would not cost the city a penny more than that. All of the risks of cost overruns for the project were borne by Turner Construction, they said. On Sunday, though, the U-T warned that’s not the case. Quite a few things could go wrong adding more cost to the project that either the city or donors would have to cover in addition to the $32.5 million gap they have to close before 2012.
• The City Council will today decide whether to ask voters to approve construction of a new City Hall. Remember, the mayor surprised a few of his supporters months ago when he demanded that voters make the decision. Civic leader Malin Burnham blasted the idea saying voters weren’t savvy enough to handle what was a complex long-term financial decision that boosters say will save the city money.
We recently ran an intriguing Q&A with Charles Black, who the mayor has tapped to get the city a new City Hall and Convention Center. Black made the point in the interview that putting the new City Hall on the ballot is problematic because the people who might normally be asked to fund the campaign in support of it — people like Burnham — don’t want it to go on the ballot in the first place.
Stay tuned to see if the council can somehow summon the votes to just approve the plan and avoid putting it on the ballot.
• The New York Times profiled a Vista company’s efforts to combat an expected 35 percent increase in its employees’ health insurance costs by experimenting with plans that narrow the workers’ choices of providers.
“What this does is eliminate the Gucci doctors,” Peter Skoda, the controller of the Vista-based Haro Bicycle Corporation told the Times.
• Finally, we’ve seen a lot of scrambling in the last couple of weeks as San Diego city leaders come to terms with the fact that only a couple of weeks remain if they want to get something on the November ballot that might help the city close its structural deficit.
Reporter Liam Dillon last night spotted something interesting on the Wednesday “revised” agenda for the City Council’s Rules Committee. Discussion is planned for the “city of San Diego’s essential services protection measure.“
Put that together with news that labor unions are holding a rally today, and you can see that it looks like some kind of tax increase may, after all, make it on the ballot.
And so, the summer of local political intrigue continues. You can relax in August.
— SCOTT LEWIS