Rep. Bob Filner, who’s running for mayor, sees a mighty sunny future for solar energy in the city. How sunny? Well, he wants to require all city and school buildings to be powered by the sun in five years.

That’s quite a goal. How big? For city buildings alone, he’d need to bump up solar resources by 11,000 percent.

“Actually solar powering all city and school buildings would test the boundaries of the technology, the city’s relationship with its major energy utility and someone’s pocketbook,” City Hall reporter Liam Dillon says.

Here’s the catch: Filner hasn’t offered basic details. He doesn’t have a specific plan and he wouldn’t talk to us about how he’ll achieve his goal.

Here’s just one challenge: Roof space. A city spokesman estimated the city would need 333 acres of roof space to provide power for every municipal building. That’s three times the roof space the city has currently.

Why so much? Because simply putting solar panels on a big building, like City Hall, would barely make a difference in its power bill.

(If you’d like to know more about how space for solar panels translate into energy, read my 2011 Fact Check into an ex-congressman’s claim that you’d need solar panels covering the Mojave Desert to serve the power needs of San Diego alone. He was wrong. In fact, according to one calculation SDG&E could cover 1percent of the county with solar panels — that’s about the size of Chula Vista — and potentially power all its customers.)

Our story notes that San Diego generates more power than all of Mexico and would rank among the top 25 countries in terms of solar capacity.

If you’d like to learn more about how countries stack up, check this report from

Now School Bosses Get Asked to Give In

The San Diego school district reached a major deal last week that will save hundreds of educator jobs while keeping the school year shortened and possibly making it much shorter. But what about administrators, like the principals and vice principals who serve as bosses of teachers?

Those administrators made the same deal a couple of years ago that the teachers did. Now, they’re under the same pressure to give back to the district.

“The effect of the administrators union giving up those pay increases and extending the furlough days would be a symbolic gesture,” reports Will Carless. “It would have relatively little impact on the district’s budget, since the union only represents about 5 percent of district employees.”

Another School District Makes a Deal

Some teachers in the San Diego school district complain that their union sold them out. However, similar deals have been common in other districts in the county.

The latest to join the list: The Carlsbad Unified district, where teachers agreed to shorten their work year by five unpaid days — three teaching days and two training days, the NC Times reports.

Um, About that $500,000…

The county’s trying to get a retired sheriff’s captain to cough up a half-million dollars that he ended up getting in pension proceeds due to a clerical error, the U-T reports. The retiree isn’t playing ball. The U-T paraphrases his attorney as saying he’s “very ill, paid most of the benefits in taxes, has no way of getting them back and didn’t know there was an error.”

The man was supposed to get about $97,000 in pension a year but got $144,000 instead.

U-T Loses Another Giant of Sports Writing

Brent Schrotenboer, one of the U-T’s most respected sports writers, says he’s taken a job at USA Today. It’s another big loss for the paper’s sports section on the heels of the paper’s firing of nationally known columnist Tim Sullivan.

Earlier this year, radio personality Scott Kaplan was fired from his radio gig after Schrotenboer wrote about his crude and sexist on-air comments regarding a female coach-turned-sportscaster. 

Now, Kaplan is one of the most prominent faces of the U-T under new owner Doug Manchester, headline the paper’s new TV channel.

Fighting Back Against Red-Light Camera Tickets

If you’re not careful, you can get a red-light camera ticket in many parts of the county if you blow through a stoplight at the wrong time. The tickets are expensive: a minimum of $480 in the city of San Diego, plus traffic school or a hike in your insurance rate.

What to do? The U-T finds that you might have luck fighting the ticket, perhaps with the help of an attorney. The key to success is finding a hole in the list of things that the authorities must prove to make a ticket stick.  

Do people get in trouble for going through a yellow light and getting stuck as it turns red? Nope, says a handy city FAQ: you’ll only get a ticket if you enter the intersection when the light is red.    

Also, the city says, you’ve got more yellow-light time than the national standard of 3 seconds: here we get at least 3.9 or 3.4 seconds.

It’s true: We are more mellow in Southern California.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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