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You could call them the Four Horsemen of the (Business) Apocalypse: A quartet of local and state issues that drive business types crazy. Lisa Halverstadt has spent months studying the local business climate to sift fact from fiction on what is holding back job creation. Defining these Four Horsemen is the climax of that quest.
Each day this week, we’ll explain one of them. First up: workers’ compensation premiums.
California companies are, on average, paying much more premiums than counterparts in other states. The situation may be worse in San Diego, which saw a 9 percent increase in claims that kept workers off the job from 2009 to 2012, driving up costs.
To keep track of the Four Horsemen this week, click here. The issues are Workers’ Comp, Cost of Living, Manufacturing Taxes and Energy Costs.
Soitec Pink Slips
It’s official: Soitec is laying off 100 people at its Rancho Bernardo solar manufacturing facility. It was once a darling of state and local officials eager to welcome a tech manufacturer and its jobs to the region. But Soitec has struggled to hold onto crucial contracts.
That’s not all its local employees focused on solar — but their future isn’t bright. The company reported that its board of directors had unanimously decided to refocus on its core electronic business and get away from solar.
Lawmaking Latino Legend Dies at 89
Peter Chacon, a legendary liberal legislator who was one of the first Latinos to become a major player in the state Legislature, has died at the age of 89. A onetime labor leader who’s “considered the father of bilingual education in California,” Chacon helped create San Diego’s Chicano Park and pushed for AIDS education in the 1980s.
While Chacon died in December, news of his death was delayed. The L.A. Times has an obituary about Chacon, a World War II air combat veteran who ran for office in the 1970s: “his moderate temperament and war record made him acceptable to the region’s Republican-dominated business establishment and the conservative owners and editors of the San Diego newspaper.” (In fact, there were two San Diego newspapers run by the Copley chain until 1992.)
Opinion: Council Prez’s Eureka Moment
Council President Sherri Lightner is a major player in more ways than one when it comes to the council’s pending decision on whether to approve the big and controversial One Paseo project in Carmel Valley. For one thing, it’s in her district. For another, she’s in charge of setting the council’s agenda.
People are paying attention. “Every planning geek and policy wonk in town has an opinion about One Paseo,” writes Joe LaCava, a local civil engineer. In a commentary for VOSD, he praises Lightner for considering the idea of moving a crucial meeting out of City Hall. And he writes that “we have to get beyond labeling folks NIMBYs just because they don’t like a project, and understand that implementing the general plan doesn’t mean every project is acceptable.”
• NBC 7 San Diego hosted a debate on the project on Politically Speaking.
About that Doomed Stadium Plan
Remember the red shirts in “Star Trek”? They’re the Enterprise crew members who’d beam down to a foreign planet and never make it back to the ship. They might exist in physical space but they’re doomed.
These days, the “convadium” idea is looking mighty reddish. As you may recall, that’s the proposal to combine a waterfront convention center expansion and a new football stadium. The U-T was a big fan. But the whole idea appears to be dead, as we’ve noticed, and the U-T’s Michael Smolens agrees: The proposal “probably won’t happen.”
Even if it’s revived, “no matter how good that plan looks, if substantial public financing is involved (and that includes giving up the city’s Qualcomm and sports arena properties), voters may not be in the mood — even if someone can find away around what appears to be a necessary two-thirds majority.”
Psst! Michael! Your publisher can hear you!
Boom Goes the Hash Oil
The local news has had plenty of stories in recent months about people who’ve burned their houses (or themselves) while trying to make something called “hash oil.” The New York Times says it’s a national problem, one worsened by the ongoing legalization of marijuana: “The explosions occur as people pump butane fuel through a tube packed with raw marijuana plants to draw out the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, producing a golden, highly potent concentrate that people sometimes call honey oil, earwax or shatter.”
Quick News Hits: Surfers Smell a Stink
• The overseers of the county employee pension fund are having trouble promptly ridding themselves of their well-paid management consultants. (U-T)
• “The expansion plans of Ocean Beach’s largest employer, the famous OB People’s Organic Food Market, have been placed on hold due to the unfortunate and untimely death of ‘Tiny,’ the owner of Tiny’s Tavern,” OB Rag reports.
• NBC highlighted photos of killer whales seen near Point Loma with the helpful assurance about their authenticity: “About 20 photos, which he swears are not edited, show the killer whales breaching the ocean surface.”
• The San Diego Museum of Art has bought two Spanish paintings and will celebrate their arrival with free admission at the final weekends of January and February. (Times of SD)
• There’s a new stench out at the coast. But this time, it’s North County complaining about a horrific smell: Something wicked hit the air on Sunday afternoon in the Encinitas/Carlsbad area, prompting calls to emergency crews.
“It was just more like, ‘Dude it stinks,’” a surfer helpfully told NBC 7.
Hmm. Maybe La Jolla, home of the region’s most odious odor, is outsourcing?
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.