First, it was blackout. Now, it’s all about the fallout. The power outage that struck the Southern California region one week ago has resulted in a rush of responses and investigations, and SDG&E has begun to accept claims for losses and damages suffered during the blackout.

This comes on the heels of two local restaurateurs filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of all San Diego County residents after the two lost $15,000 worth of food during the blackout. Additionally, the U-T reports, the failure of a backup generator at Scripps Mercy Hospital that sent hospital staff scrambling to save patients’ lives was investigated and determined to be “not enough to result in some type of penalty.”

Different electricity providers in the US and Mexico are still trying to figure out what went wrong. The Union-Tribune reports there were “two dozen events on five different grids over an 11-minute stretch that culminated in the massive blackout Sept. 8.”

In our recently revamped opinion section, Fix San Diego, reader Richard Hancock points out that “our gas and electric utility system is flawed,” and suggests San Diego take advantage of federal assistance to retrofit buildings for solar. But that federal assistance could be under threat.

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart noticed that the federal government’s huge loan to Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer, is budding into a scandal after Solyndra shut down and laid off all its workers. Stewart had a fine time with the comments of San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, who questioned the executive director of the Department of Energy’s loan program in what Stewart calls a “serious solar smackdown.” You can watch the exchange here. It ends in Stewart proclaiming, “Bilbray 2012!”

Signature Moves

Walk into any supermarket or big box store and you are likely to be confronted by signature gatherers at the entrance. The workers often have clipboards laden with a thick stack of papers and signs often hang nearby summarizing the goals of their efforts.

Why do they have to collect these signatures? Why are signature gatherers such a permanent fixture in San Diego politics? Scott Lewis and NBC 7 San Diego’s Catherine Garcia gather some facts on the issue in the latest San Diego Explained.

Also, CityBeat looked into laws that the county’s top labor organization said in a letter would be violated after signature-gathering efforts for pension reform went to the airwaves on local TV station KUSI. CityBeat found that the laws cited by the labor organization may specifically exempt the type of activities they are decrying and concludes that KUSI may have been the victim of “media intimidation” preceding their signature gathering broadcast.

Spare Your Mail, We Want It

As the 2012 election nears, you may have already noticed some fundraising and political spending ramping up. The U-T reports on the personal finances of mayoral candidates outside of their fundraising, with Carl DeMaio leading the pack at $2.7 million in assets and Fletcher in the underdog position with just under $700,000.

Some candidates will put their own money into their campaigns, others won’t. Regardless, you’re likely to be receiving some political mail during the upcoming election season, and Liam Dillon wants your political mail. So mail him your mail, and maybe between all of us we can keep the US Postal Service running for a few more days.

“Probably the smallest internationally important art museum in the world”

In two interviews with John Wilson, Executive Director at the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park, Wilson tells Randy Dotinga why the Timken’s Modernist building is like sweet-and-sour pork, what he thinks about the plan to remake Balboa Park, and why a deep-thinking St. Bartholomew, as he is thought to be depicted by Rembrandt in 1657, may be contemplating his underwater mortgage.

No Soup For You

We’ve told you about the looming strike of grocery store workers, which could begin as early as Sunday night. Yesterday, Ralphs and Albertsons both made statements indicating that if workers strike, their stores may close.

Vons said it will operate stores in “as much a business as usual fashion as possible.” The U-T reports that Ralphs employs 1,800 union workers at its 25 San Diego County locations, and that Albertsons has not yet confirmed which San Diego locations it would shutter. One thing is for sure; the loss of 1,800 jobs would be “another blow to the economy,” says one economist.

“We have a higher mandate than politics.”

That was County Supervisor Bill Horn’s quixotic reply to news that Supervisor Greg Cox wants to strip the Board of Supervisors of its redistricting powers. Next month, Cox will ask the Board of Supervisors to give up control of the redistricting process to an independent county redistricting panel, comprised of three retired judges.

Cox will make a motion to ask the state legislature to change the law, so that the proposed transformation can go ahead. The North County Times reports Supervisor Pam Slater-Price will support the proposal, but the remainder of the Board is undecided. We recently ‘Explained’ San Diego’s own redistricting process and the importance and challenges of the redistricting process.

Tuition Update

Yesterday, we quoted KPBS on a story that cited Stanford University’s tuition at $26,000, but that story has now been corrected to reflect Stanford’s actual tuition cost of about $40,000 per year.

While it was amusing to ponder a $24,000 tuition increase in the one day between the story and correction, the proposed 8%-16% yearly hike that has actually been proposed was no laughing matter to the University of California regents. The LA Times reported yesterday that the regents were so divided over the proposed increase that a vote scheduled for November will now be delayed until 2012. “We’ve seen the possibilities, and we don’t want to accept them,” said the regents chairwoman, Sherry Lansing.

Bright Spotlight

The New York Times wrote about a San Diego company that has long been the darling of our local start-ups, BrightScope, whose employees use collected data to rate 401(k) plans and investment advisers. The article mulls not only the viability of BrightScope’s business model but also the tactics of its co-founders. Do they “hold investment advisers ‘hostage’,” or are they “a front” for lawyers, or just plain “sinister”? Ryan Alfred, one of the company’s co-founders, takes it all in stride. “If we are going to be relevant, then we’re going to have to be controversial.”

Toyota Presents: Beach

Under a proposed agreement, Toyota will become the “official vehicle” of San Diego’s lifeguards, saving the city “about $245,000” if the City Council approves of the deal, according to City News Service. Under the proposal, the city could lease 34 new vehicles, all trucks and SUVs, for four years at a cost of $1.1 million and in turn Toyota would be able to market itself at city events, facilities and on the city’s website.

But just in case, someone should probably alert the council that hitting the brakes on a Toyota deal can yield unexpected results.

Seth Hall can be reached at

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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