Here’s a sneak preview for you: Next week is our first ever Beef Week at Voice of San Diego, where we’ll explain some of the long-running tensions that color our civic affairs.
The timing’s right, because we’ve got some tensions of our own making lately. Journalism necessarily involves beefing with public agencies and officials on occasion.
Lately we’re beefing with the city of Carson. It got real this week: We filed a lawsuit against the city. Carson’s the place where the Chargers want to live together in sin with the Oakland Raiders. It stands to reason city officials have talked this over with officials from both teams, but when we filed requests under the California Public Records Act to obtain any calls, emails texts or documents detailing those interactions, they jerked us around then ultimately said no such records exist.
That’s not our only Chargers related beef with a public agency right now. As Scott Lewis describes in this preview of next week’s negotiations between the team and various local government representatives, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has bizarrely been holding back a communication he sent to the Chargers and mayor’s office. Why bizarre? Because he essentially admits it is a public record and that he will release it. He says, though, were the public to see what he sent (and the replies to it from the mayor’s office and Chargers), it would damage the Chargers and city relationship too much — maybe scuttling talks altogether.
This, of course, just makes us want to see it more. Negotiations should be private. And we get why we don’t get to see attorney-client messages during them. But negotiations haven’t begun (that starts Tuesday) and Goldsmith sent his message to the Chargers too, so there’s no attorney-client claim (unless the Chargers are somehow his client now too).
And over the last couple weeks we’ve also poked at SANDAG, the region’s planning agency, by examining their population predictions over the last two decades. Those projections guide all kinds of big decisions about San Diego’s future, and by one important measure, we discovered, they’ve been wildly off. SANDAG prefers to use a different measure, one that shows them to be much closer to the mark. (SANDAG rightly has beef with us over a mischaracterization of regional population growth we had in one of this week’s Morning Reports – we had to issue a correction on that one.)
What VOSD Learned This Week
One thing I personally learned this week is that it takes a lot of self-control to avoid making bad headline puns about solar power. I didn’t always prevail. But don’t let that diminish what Lisa Halverstadt uncovered this week in her quest to understand whether solar will pay off for San Diego.
The big takeaway from Halverstadt’s coverage this week: Changes are coming. And they all stand to potentially make things worse for current solar customers, or deter people who might be considering going solar. For one, a federal rebate that allows people to recoup a big chunk of the cost to install solar panels might be dead soon. And right now, solar customers use a system called net metering where SDG&E credits solar users for the power their systems produce – but that arrangement is also set to change, and no one knows what the new one might look like. Then there are the rates SDG&E customers pay. Those – you guessed it – are also changing, and they could get less favorable to solar power users.
So what’s a potential solar user to do? Our contributor Ken Stone outlined the lessons he learned when he made the switch to solar, and Halverstadt put together this handy guide on how to pick a solar company.
What Else VOSD Learned
• San Diego will be paying for expensive desalinated water this year, while cheaper water sits in a reservoir, where some of it will evaporate.
• A math error could mean an extra $80 million for the plan to build a new Chargers stadium. And as the city sits down with the team this week, we’ve spelled out a clear way to tell whether the negotiations are legitimate.
• The Cold War is largely to blame for growth projections that have been badly off since 1990.
What I’m Reading
News About News:
• One clue as to why the West has water problems? In the middle of the arid Arizona desert, the federal government pays farmers to grow cotton. (Pro Publica)
• Free speech and Title IX are about to go head to head, thanks to this insane, absurd, insanely absurd investigation launched against a Northwestern professor who committed the dangerous crime of writing an essay. (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
• Prosecutors around the country – but particularly in California – are using laws to target young, mostly minority men who they say are gang members. But the standards leave plenty of room for error – the kind of error that can easily lock innocent young men away for life. Recall that I wrote about that very situation here in San Diego, when the DA argued unsuccessfully that a 26-year-old should go away for up to life in prison because of Facebook posts. (New York Times Magazine)
• President Barack Obama last year granted clemency to a Fresno grandmother who served 21 years for delivering meth, and one reporter followed her as she struggles to carve out a new life and avoid getting sent back to prison. (Yahoo)
News About Entertainment:
• Those flyovers and salutes to soldiers you see during NFL games? Yeah, the Department of Defense has pumped millions of dollars in taxpayer money into the NFL for those. (Grantland)
• This conversation with some of the most dominant women in comedy covers pretty much what you might expect: Hillary Clinton, sexism and penis caps. (Hollywood Reporter)
Two Unrelated Animals-Outrunning-the-Military Photos I Really Want You to See
Line of the Week
“The most important thing about the breadstick sandwiches is that they also come with unlimited breadsticks.” – Buzzfeed, in a review of the Olive Garden’s new breadstick sandwiches.