When SDG&E pushed for a giant power line to be build through Southern California’s desert and backcountry, it had a green selling point: a plan to create a huge solar power project. Twelve thousand mirrored solar dishes would appear in Imperial County and provide enough power to keep the lights, TVs and computers on at some 200,000 homes. And the deeply controversial Sunrise Powerlink would be used to transport all that green energy.

“The company used the suspect plan to help justify building a controversial power line that cuts through private property and pristine wilderness along a 117-mile swath of San Diego County’s backcountry and nearby desert,” Rob Davis writes.

Today, the power line is very much alive and under construction. But the solar deal is dead, and SDG&E’s still having trouble finding ways to create electricity through environmentally friendlier strategies. Though it’s added electricity from other green sources like wind, SDG&E delivers the same amount of solar power to its customers as it did six years ago: nearly none.

From Homeless to Harvard

She once counted bathroom tiles at a homeless shelter for fun. Now, Madison High’s valedictorian and prom queen has plenty of other things to count, from the days until she begins college at Harvard University to the number of people who have helped her along the way.

“You can choose to just give up and rot into yourself, have this horrible feeling and let it fester,” she says of her life’s struggles. “Or use school as an outlet or just find something else.” Our story tells how she made it.

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An Undissolving City?

Over the last few years, we’ve been noticing a trend of local communities taking over responsibilities that used to be the job of the city government. We call it the “Dissolving City.”

But up in Escondido, the reverse might be in the works: the City Council may kill off the Downtown Business Association, which levies fees on businesses (as much as $900 annually) to support marketing and promotion efforts, the NCT reports. These business improvement districts, or BIDs, are common around San Diego, but often controversial. The Escondido mayor says he wants to get rid of fees to make the city more business-friendly.

There’s a twist: the council may decide to take the fees itself and then dole out the money to community groups and event organizers.

Library Smackdown Continues

The latest commentary from a critic of city libraries — he says they’re “simply Charger stadiums for an effete crowd of better-dressed, well-coiffed people with fewer tattoos” — set off a big debate on our site.

Among the topics of discussion: Do we need brick-and-mortar buildings as more books go digital? (Never mind that buildings here don’t tend to be made of brick due to the risk of earthquakes. Just work with me here, people!)

One commenter says it’s “stunningly myopic to simply skip over all the people who can’t afford physical books or home internet access, much less the gadgetry required for e-books.”

There’s also discussion about sharing school libraries with the public, with one commenter saying “kids have school libraries, so the ‘for the children’ point is bogus.”

As we’ve reported, school libraries are hardly a top priority during budget-cut season. As of April, one in four school libraries in the San Diego district were slated to have no staff, and no one was sure how they’d manage to function.

Disclosure: I visit San Diego’s libraries several times a month and donate to them. (I also spent much of my non-mispent youth in a local library). To me, their decline is the most personally painful part of San Diego’s ongoing failure to thrive. 

Most Read of the Week

Here’s what was most popular with your peers on our site last week: A letter from a dissenting teacher to her union, our now-time-tested piece on Jehovah’s Witnessess who clean Qualcomm Stadium for a discount, yarn bombing (!) and more.

Trading ‘Gonzo’ for Rizzo

When the Padres take the field today against the Red Sox, there might be some emotional pangs for San Diegans: hometown hero and former Padres star Adrian Gonzalez will be in another team’s uniform.

But there’s a new Padre that might make you forget about Gonzalez (and his high price tag). He’s 21-year-old superprospect Anthony Rizzo, a budding star who the Padres got in exchange for Gonzalez. (Union-Tribune)

Texting Your Way to a Short ER Wait

I spent last week in Virginia in search of reminders of the Civil War or, as a Southern friend’s grandmother liked to describe it, The Recent Unpleasantness. A billboard in Richmond informed me of a modern way to avoid an unrelated kind of unpleasantness: emergency room waits.

It turns out that several hospitals around the United States, including at least one in Richmond, will tell you how long it’ll take to be seen at their ER. You just text a message to a phone number and get a message back. It’s handy if you’re trying to figure out where (or when) to get the most prompt care.

Locally, North County’s Tri-City Medical Center and East County’s Alvarado Hospital post their wait times online. But other area hospitals don’t seem to, perhaps because they’re embarrassed: last summer, the U-T found that San Diego-area ER patients often had to wait for a long time for care, sometimes an average of 90 minutes. In 2008, a local ER doc told me that waits could be 3-4 hours.

Obviously the patients haven’t tried the approach I plan to use next time: “Don’t you know who I am?!” The only problem would be if a nurse writes down a worrisome symptom: “Patient doesn’t know who he is!”

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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