We’ve been unfolding the story of José Susumo Azano Matsura this week, including his business dealings in spy gear, his war with the energy giant Sempra and what led to his downfall. Azano’s Lamborghini-assisted ride to the top is rivaled only by his meteoric plummet that has him selling off his assets and fighting to stay out of jail.
Liam Dillon summarizes a few of the important takeaways we turned up during our investigation. Azano, who is no stranger to federal investigators, has been a thorn in the side of Sempra. But details of Sempra’s operations in Mexico are hard to nail down, and the feds have been investigating the company’s dealings there. But those investigations went nowhere.
Need to catch-up on our investigation? Start here.
Bringing Geothermal Back
Undeterred by a past failures to ignite the same project, state Sen. Ben Hueso is reviving a plan that would require private utility companies to get some of their power from geothermal plants in California. One such plant is proposed to be developed in the Imperial Valley as part of a plan to restore the Salton Sea, which “is one of the state’s most promising sources of geothermal energy due to a hotbed of geological activity,” John Hrabe writes.
San Diego Gas & Electric warns that geothermal energy can be more expensive for ratepayers. Hueso doesn’t yet know when he will reintroduce the bill, which stalled last year.
“The cost of renewable energy has resulted in a steady increase in energy costs for businesses in San Diego and across the state,” she writes. Winn said part of the big-picture solution is going to have to come from Sacramento.
You Know We Can Hear You, Right?
One joy of reporting the news is witnessing that magical moments when people say the darnedest things. Remember when the San Diego schools’ chief financial officer told us there were “hundreds” of excess employees on the payroll?
Or the guy who told us he was comfortable challenging a mayor’s credit card usage because he personally had “a lot of fucking money in the bank?”
Randy Dotinga pawed through the last 10 years of our reporting and brought forth some of the most memorable quotes from our first decade.
Here Comes a Big Taxi Shake-Up
A fight over the limit on the number of taxis permitted on San Diego streets finally culminated on Thursday with a decision for dramatic change. Beginning in April, San Diego will have an open taxi market, unencumbered by any cap on numbers. “Anyone who meets minimum requirements can apply for a permit to run a taxi business in the city,” Megan Burks reports.
One Paseo: Just The Facts, Please
As decisions over whether to go ahead with the controversial One Paseo project loom, one Carmel Valley resident writes in with a point-by-point argument against claims made by One Paseo’s opponents. “The organized opposition’s rhetoric and scare tactics are distasteful. Beyond that, their claims are outright lies,” writes Antonius Schuh.
• Let’s impose fines on cyclists who ride without wearing a helmet, says one state lawmaker. (U-T)
• Let’s fine people who are caught fishing in protected waters, another says. (KPBS)
• Let’s also put labels on sugary beverages, yet another lawmaker proposes. (KPBS)
• National Democrats have once again named San Diego’s Rep. Scott Peters as one of their most vulnerable candidates in 2016. (RollCall)
• NPR caught wind of our recent story detailing the travails of one family attacked and arrested by police after two brothers used keys to walk in the front door of their business.
• San Diego County officials are signaling their willingness to pitch in to the mayor’s effort to find a solution to the stadium problem. (KPBS)
• Scientists are predicting decades-long drought in the southwest his century. (NBC 7)
• The only bank in the small town of Julian is closing its doors. (NBC 7)
• One of those problems you didn’t anticipate: Encinitas schools that purchased iPads for their students are struggling with how to handle pornography being stored on the devices. (NBC7)
• Two San Diego hospitals were fined for their roles in the deaths of patients. (U-T)
San Diego’s Dark Knight
On some mornings, Chris Banner wakes up and goes to work in the real estate business, or heads out to trim some weeds. But on other days, he dons the cowl and cape of a masked crusader and patrols the streets of Valley Center dressed as Batman, NBC 7 reports.
True, Banner only patrols in his 1974 Ford Galaxy, but you wouldn’t know it because he has transformed it into a replica of the Batmobile from the 1989 movie. He drives it around on patrols and also visits kids for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Everything I have is a bat,” Banner said. “All my tractors have bats; my trucks, bats. Socks, underwear, you name it. I’m bat.”