As we finish our series of stories examining the costs of doing business in California, we take a look at a big bill that companies gotta pay: energy.

“Many states like Arizona and Texas offer the promise of lower energy rates, a point boosters from those states often use to sell California companies on moving,” our Lisa Halverstadt reports. “In many cases, San Diego businesses, especially industrial ones, are also paying higher rates than companies elsewhere in California.”

Our story compares power prices here to elsewhere and checks in with a downtown hardware store that found its rates skyrocketed even as it became more energy-efficient. We also hear from SDG&E, which spells out a few reasons for the steep prices, including a retroactive rate hike and California’s costly mix of renewable sources of power.

Stop the Rich from Ruling Referendums

Leila Pedersen, state program manager for California Common Cause, asks this question in a commentary for VOSD: “What if I told you that no matter what city government did, what laws the City Council passed and the mayor signed, a handful of the wealthiest people in town could pay to overrule it?”

That’s reality in San Diego, she says, and it’s time for a change. She supports Councilman Todd Gloria’s call for reform.

“The referendum process is a time-honored tradition in direct democracy, and is meant to elevate the people’s priorities,” she writes. “But wealthy special interests have used it to subvert the will of the people, and drown out the voices of everyday San Diegans.”

Rapper Still Faces Charges for Rapping

Never mind hints of a possible resolution: There is no end to the bizarre case of the local rapper who’s being prosecuted for conspiracy over his rap songs. Brandon Duncan, known as Tiny Doo, is out on $50,000 bail and faces a trial in April, NBC 7 reports. “It’s music,” Duncan said outside a court hearing Friday. “It’s entertainment. That’s it. It’s telling a story. That’s it.”

News about the prosecution and its possible violation of the First Amendment continues to trickle into the national media. CNN and TIME magazine are the latest to explore the case. CNN notes that the rapper “faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.”

Duncan, CNN says, has no criminal record and told the network that he’s just “painting a picture of urban street life.”

Bolts to L.A.? Rumors, Schmumors

The latest rumor to appear in The Reader: The Chargers are definitely heading to L.A. and have a deal.

The U-T identifies the source of the report, a St. Louis radio station, and gets a denial from the Bolts about a deal with the Goldman Sachs firm, which is the Chargers investment banker. Fun fact: The Chargers have an investment banker.

For a dose of reality, check our four myths about a new Chargers stadium from a couple weeks back.

• A rather creepy portrait of Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, at the local Padres stadium office “kinda looks like one of those poker-playing dogs,” Deadspin declares. A snarky commenter notes the empty stands behind Selig: “The artist should be commended for the lifelikeness of the crowds at Petco.”

State Dental Board’s Failures

The U-T digs into the state dental board, which is supposed to pull licenses from dangerous dentists, and finds that “the enforcement process can be protracted, allowing for additional incidents of injury or death.” In one case, a young patient of a Rancho Bernardo dentist died during surgery just days after he was put on probation “in response to a series of incidents, including one in which a patient was burned when an oxygen line erupted in a fire in her face.”

Airport Gets Busy

• Improvements at Lindbergh Field are too new to have much impact on its national rankings, which depict it as quite average — not great, not horrible — as airports go. But it still had a big 2014 with the most passengers (18.8 million, presumably including plenty of repeats) in its history. (City News Service)

• Lindbergh Field isn’t a top airport when it comes to the number of guns confiscated from passengers. Only 11 were confiscated in 2014. “Only”? Well, that’s not many compared with 120 at the Dallas airport and 109 in Atlanta. Those are huge airports compared with Lindbergh, but even smaller ones like Tampa (49) and Nashville (48) were way ahead of San Diego. (538.com)

Quick News Hits

• Our rundown of the battle over the proposed One Paseo development topped the VOSD hit parade last week: It was the most popular story on our site. Check the Top 10 list here.

• Michael Vu, the county’s top elections official, is facing a lawsuit claiming he incorrectly threw out ballots in the whisker-close race for a Chula Vista City Council seat. The U-T discovers that he was in hot water back when he worked in elections in Ohio. “There are two different situations altogether,” he tells the paper.

• NBC 7 wouldn’t show the post-shooting issue of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in a story about how a North Park newsstand is selling it, but it looks like CBS 8 did.

• Doctors who treat students at UCSD and other University of California campuses are going on strike tomorrow. (City News Service)

Monkeys on the lam! Monkeys on the lam! Well, not anymore. (L.A. Times)

• The Cheat Sheet is out with a list of the “Richest Cities” in the U.S. — the top 10 “cities with a population greater than 500,000 that have the highest percentage of households earning at least $150,000 per year.” San Diego ranks at No. 5, and the site says you’ll need a salary of $101,984 to “live comfortably” here.

As a public service, I’m willing to personally test this claim for a San Diego Fact Check.

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

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

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