Three impending policy changes could make a big difference in the ability of solar power to support the environment and save residents money.

In the latest story in our quest to understand solar power, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt takes a look at one way things could be different: A hefty federal rebate for residential and commercial customers might disappear soon. If Congress lets the rebate expire, the upfront costs for installing solar panels could get much bigger overnight.

Post-Purchase, Big Layoffs at Union-Tribune

Just days into new ownership, the Union Tribune sacked “178 of its 603 employees, with the bulk of the job losses affecting the newspaper’s printing and delivery operation,” the paper said. The paper will be printed in L.A., home to its partner the Los Angeles Times. Some workers will be able to apply for jobs in L.A.

Editor Jeff Light’s statement might not give much comfort to the sacked employees: “For readers of the newspaper, they will notice zero impact from today’s layoffs.”

Politics Roundup: Supervisor Abed?

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is looking into a possible run for county supervisor now that incumbent Dave Roberts has run into quite a spot of bother, U-T columnist Logan Jenkins reports. Other possible contenders who hope to turn the Democratic seat red include Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein.

“In Escondido, Abed is known as a tireless campaigner, effective fundraiser, and cultural lightning rod, negative and positive,” Jenkins writes. Indeed, Abed and his North County city have drawn lots of negative national attention for their opposition to undocumented immigrants, especially in light of its big Latino population that doesn’t tend to have much political power.

• An L.A. Times columnist says a focus on inflation misses a bigger issue in the minimum wage debate: “The high overall cost of living in Los Angeles, and many other big cities, is what really puts low-income workers behind the curve, especially when compared to workers in other cities and regions.”

• Rebates for getting rid of lawns will continue in Southern California despite objections from the San Diego County Water Authority. A whopping $350 million will support the program. (L.A. Times)

Kill the Free Fliers!

Ocean Beach residents are organizing to make a stink about U-T advertising fliers that show up unbidden on doorsteps, sidewalks and lawns across town. “Some recipients of the unwanted circular, having found the local Rite Aid advertising in it, have gathered up bunches of them and dumped them in front of the store in protest,” the Reader reports, and the local Town Council is getting involved. La Mesa officials have already tried to get rid of the nuisances.

The hitch: “While the circulars seem to qualify as litter, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer on whether it’s illegal,” the Reader says. Back in 2012, the Reader ran a grimly hilarious piece by a Pacific Beach man who entered a Kafkaesque fun zone when he valiantly tried to make the fliers stop coming.

Culture Report: Arts Matter Too, Ya Know

VOSD’s weekly Culture Report offers an “Attention Must Be Paid”-style look at the value of arts and culture to the local community: “The arts are just as good as sports, some even prefer them. The arts bring in revenue. The arts aren’t trying to dump you for a faster, hotter city.” Indeed, a new report offers numbers about the impact on jobs (6,268 for non-profit art and culture groups) and spending ($191 million by those organizations).

Plus: What Mick Jagger thinks of the Chargers daring to leave (not much), a documentary about Baja food and a star speller who may be the most interesting person named Oona who’s not related to Charlie Chaplin.

Quick News Hits: Gone with the Wind

• A new report says an estimated 800 transients live downtown, up by 26 percent over last year. (U-T)

• The sudden demise of the Pennysaver has left more than its employees in the lurch. Businesses like auto repair shops are freaking out. (L.A. Times)

• Google honored Sally Ride — the late astronaut, prominent San Diego resident and post-mortem LGBT icon — with a nifty series of Google Doodle animations this week. She would have turned 64 Monday. Meanwhile, Vox explores her desire to go to space and her “willingness to pursue her passion doggedly without hiding the mystery at its heart.”

• A San Diego Zoo doctor is working to save the last of the Chinese giant turtles. (New York Times)

• No one does peculiar headlines better (or worse-er?) than the Reader, which regaled readers with this bit of clickbait yesterday: “Slimy blue things die on Cardiff beach.”

OK, I clicked. Turns out the story is about creatures called “wind sailors” that die if they get blown onto shore and can’t get back in the water. “The remains look like pieces of clear cellophane,” the Reader explains helpfully, “as if someone opened a CD package and left it on the beach.”

CDs? Yes. Kids, ask your parents. When you’re done making them feel ancient, act mystified by the concept of a “mix tape.” You’ll thank me when Mom and Dad add a few gray hairs overnight.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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

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