If you think a swarm of dozens of uniformed Sheriff’s deputies is an aggressive response to the prospective crime of evading a $2.50 trolley fare, you’re right.

Turns out, the sheriff isn’t all that concerned about fare evasion. In a new investigation, Andrew Keatts examines the Sheriff’s Department’s Operation Lemon Drop and efforts like it. The sheriff is using public data to track ex-inmates released from prison under realignment. When the data leads them to a criminal hotspot, like, say, a trolley station, they swoop — asking thousands of residents for a proof of fare in hopes of finding ex-criminals in the midst of an offense so they can arrest them before they commit a serious crime.

It’s about prevention, the department says. Observers and advocates worry it could also be a form of profiling.

Then there’s the efficiency question: During Operation Lemon Drop, the Sheriff’s Department contacted 16,631 residents and pulled aside 624 people for questioning. But it only turned up 186 arrests.

The bottom line, writes Keatts: “Thousands of citizens were stopped by law enforcement in order to arrest fewer than 200 people, including some for simple misdemeanor offenses.”

Calling Foul on One Paseo Delay

Anthony Wagner, a planning commissioner for the city of San Diego, is upset that Council President Sherri Lightner is postponing a vote on the giant One Paseo project in Carmel Valley: Her “decision to delay the vote smacks of pandering to her affluent constituents,” he writes in a VOSD commentary.

The upcoming vote over One Paseo is shaping up to be a battle that, among other things, will pit environmentalists against each other (and builders against congestion-fearing residents) in a fight to determine how much growth in the city needs to discourage driving and protect the earth. Lightner has said she wants to delay a meeting in order to find a place to hold it in the Carmel Valley neighborhood, but Wagner is having none of that: “this seems an inflammatory move, placating Carmel Valley residents and bending over backward to apply pressure to her Council colleagues.”

Wagner supports the project. He and the company behind One Paseo don’t want to wait.

Utility Player: Watchdog Seems Like Lapdog

“Newly obtained emails suggest that improper contacts between the former California Public Utilities Commission president and utility executives were more extensive than previously known,” the U-T reports.

The president, the paper reports, was mighty cozy with with Southern California Edison officials: “He scheduled private meetings at bars, accepted dinner invitations at restaurants stocked with caviar, spoke to utility executives in weekend telephone calls and met up with others while traveling abroad.” He used to work for Southern California Edison.

Quick News Hits: The View from Above

• The most popular article on our site last week was a story about the blame game at La Jolla High after a football player suffered a concussion during a game. Click here for the full Top 10 list.

• The radical cleric and onetime San Diego imam Anwar al-Awlak, who was killed in a strike in 2011, continues to be “a sinister and durable inspiration” for terrorism like the attacks at the Boston Marathon attacks and this month in Paris,” the New York Times reports.

• A new Catholic-oriented radio station at KCEO/1000 AM will debut tomorrow and serve a huge chunk of Southern California from the Diocese of Orange County. The newly boosted signal will come from a transmitter in North County’s Vista, where KCEO used to be a little-heard station devoted to paid programming. (OC Register)

• Uber, the hugely controversial taxi-like service, is reducing its prices in San Diego and many other cities. Uber, which has quickly become a widely despised company among people who widely despise companies, has also begun guarantees about how much drivers will make. We told you recently about the often-broken rules about using Uber and Lyft to get pick-ups from the airport.

• We try to skip most animal stories in the Morning Report because otherwise we’d be here all day cooing things like “aww, lookit the big furry baby in a diaper!” to ourselves. (OK, we do that anyway.) But we can’t resist this tale of a Siberian husky who somehow got stuck — adorably — in an Encanto storm drain. (“Stop taking a picture and do something!”) She’s fine. And it’s not clear how she got in there.

• Check out this new photo of central San Diego from outer space courtesy of astronaut Terry Virts. If you zoom the photo and look closely, you can see the baseball stadium downtown and plenty of other local landmarks. And you see me, well, that can only mean one thing: It’s definitely time for a shake for lunch and a sensible dinner.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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