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California’s open-government law requires that public agencies hold their board meetings in public, although there’s a loophole that allows subcommittees to meet privately. The Otay Water District, which serves much of the South Bay, has rammed its way through the loophole in a bid for secrecy and run afoul of the law.

At issue are subcommittees that are supposed to be temporary, focusing on specific tasks over specific amounts of time. But “two of its recent temporary committees weren’t very temporary. One existed from 2007 to 2010. Another has addressed numerous topics,” Rob Davis reports. “Exactly what remains a secret because the district redacted its agendas.”

A leading advocate for open government says the district is violating open meeting and public record law. “That should cease and desist immediately or be reported to the district attorney,” he said. “It’s entirely plausible that this ad hoc committee charade could be simply a mechanism for a total subversion of the Brown Act.”

The board president said the district tries to follow the law. One meeting was held at his Chula Vista home.

City Considers New Generators for Next Outage

Simply having generators on hand is no guarantee of perfect performance during a blackout. Just ask the Sharp Memorial and Scripps Chula Vista hospitals, whose generators either died or failed to function property during September’s massive power outage. Doctors and nurses had to scramble to protect lives, raising questions about whether local hospitals are prepared to keep patients alive during actual disasters instead of just a few hours without power.

What about when there are no generators at all to keep a crucial service in, you know, service? The city of San Diego can tell you all about that: millions of gallons of sewage flooded into the ocean during the outage because facilities didn’t have generators to keep the power on.

One local water official declared that “to have only two major failures is pretty good,” which makes me wonder what “pretty bad” would be like. Would we even be able to leave the house without stepping in doo-doo?

Meanwhile, a city spokesman declared that “it’s just not cost-effective to have backup generators for all 49 pump stations to prepare for a once-in-a-generation situation.” By that reasoning, earthquake preparedness would be a waste too.

But now, officials want to spend $10 million to $15 million to buy backup generators for five sewage facilities, including the two that failed. The problem: the city doesn’t have the money. 

For background on the power outage’s spills, check a commentary by our Scott Lewis with a legendary headline: “The Power Went Out and the City Pooped Itself.” 

Schools Investigate Themselves

San Diego schools are looking into an allegation by a school board member that principals have wooed poor students to their schools, gotten federal money designated for disadvantaged children and then tried to get rid of the kids while keeping the dough.

A 360-Degree Look at the Navy Pier

We’ve created an interactive online panorama of the Navy Pier, which is at the center of the hot debate over a plan to remake it and create two giant sculptures that will look like wings or sails (or, as critics say, bunny ears).

Mayoral Rivals Decline to Bash the Mayor

So what kind of job has Mayor Jerry Sanders done? Will he get the city’s financial problems fixed by the time he leaves office? We asked the mayoral candidates to ponder his performance.

Three of the major rivals declined to bash him or get very specific. Councilman Carl DeMaio, though, didn’t exactly go out of his way to praise him either. “The fact that Mayor Sanders kept the lights on is commendable,” considering the crises he’d dealt with, DeMaio said. “But there is much more still to be done.”

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis praised Sander’s “great leadership” but said “we need an innovative, creative, out of the box thinker with a proven track record to finish the job” — i.e., her.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, meanwhile, said he was “the right mayor” and touted his own ability to “build coalitions and bring people together.”

Neighbors Say No to Military

Some residents of Old Town are raising the alarm about a rehabilitation facility for veterans that hopes to move in next door, Uptown News reports. Opponents say it’s close to a school, making it an inappropriate place to treat vets with a variety of medical problems, including brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. The military says there’s nothing to worry about.

Opinions Are Like… Oh Never Mind

In letters, our readers support a transient-free tourist zone (sounds like a full-employment act for civil-rights attorneys to me) and oppose a new liquor store in the Allied Gardens neighborhood. 

A reader also ponders the future of the U-T under the management of two men described as devout Catholics: will they contribute to “whole new era of social justice, honesty and respect for all citizens and a serious commitment to the good of the entire community”? Answer: Probably not in the way that the reader envisions. Both men are far from liberal. 

Laugh It Up, Republicans!

Who says liberals can’t take a joke? Oh, it looks like they’re saying it. The leftie website OB Rag is not the slightest bit amused by a local Republican-leaning group’s invitation to an “Occupy Christmas” holiday soiree. “We wanted to show how this clear mockery of the occupy movement by the invite is simply soaked in elitist hypocrisy,” OB Rag says, “and not only makes fun of the movement that has highlighted the disparity in income between the very, very rich and the rest of us, it disparages protest and dissent in general.”

Well, that settles it. I’m totally not inviting OB Rag to the “Occupy My Living Room” party at my house on New Year’s Eve.

Correction: We have corrected the Morning Report to note that the OB Rag was complaining about an invitation sent by the Lincoln Club, a business group that leans Republican, not a gay GOP group. OB Rag had it wrong but we still should have caught it. We regret the error.

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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