A little blue, a whole lotta green. Rinse and repeat, just with even more green. That’s been the story for a while now as water prices in San Diego keep going up and up.

Now, we’re learning how bad it’s going to get. Water prices in the city of San Diego are expected to go up by 40 percent over the next five years, even as we’re supposed to be using less of it.

VOSD’s Ry Rivard examines the facts and the ironies behind this unpleasant news.

Turns out do-gooders are part of the problem: While it sounds counterintuitive, water conservation actually translates to higher prices. But it may not be entirely your fault — the governor is getting some blame for mandating water reductions in our region, pushing prices higher, even though there seems to be enough water.

Our story also looks at potential ways out. One councilman wants to give poor, low-water users a break; another councilman wants billing to be more clear.

Water is pricey, power is pricey. What’s a poor resident to do? Well, maybe move to Texas. As Slate reports, a weird thing happened the other day: “The so-called spot price of electricity in Texas fell toward zero, hit zero, and then went negative for several hours. As the Lone Star State slumbered, power producers were paying the state’s electricity system to take electricity off their hands. At one point, the negative price was $8.52 per megawatt hour.”

Atkins Targets an Ally

Assembly Speaker Toni Akins, our region’s most powerful Democratic legislator, is going after the state Senate seat held by Democrat Marty Block.

This is a Big Deal. As the L.A. Times notes, this kind of internecine warfare is unusual for the Dems, who control the state Legislature and the governor’s office. A high-profile fight would also suck up money that could be used to keep the GOP from getting more power.

But Atkins needs somewhere to land when she gets termed out. And she’s apparently miffed because Block (allegedly) broke a promise to let her take his state Senate seat.

“But I don’t think she should defer to a man who approached her & asked her not to run in 2012, promising 1 term,” tweeted her spokesman Dave Rolland.

Politicians, of course, break I-won’t-run-again promises all the time, and it’s hard to imagine why any voter would care about a supposedly private pledge. Then there’s the matter of Block’s denial that such a promise ever took place.

Atkins knows she could be painted as a bully, and she even used that word in her chat with the L.A. Times. If she needs to fend off Block, a veteran and sharp politician just like her, she has lots of money in the bank to help her out.

But Block may gain on the financial front thanks to the stakes in the Dem-vs.-Dem drama in Sacramento. Meanwhile, there seems to be little if any talk about any actual political differences between Block and Atkins. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez told us at our live podcast taping last month that there aren’t any — and an Atkins challenge would simply be a personality contest between her and Block.

Labor leader Mickey Kasparian expressed frustration that Dems are engaging in a civil war instead of challenging the Republican mayor.

Sara Libby rounded up who’s on Team Atkins and who’s on Team Block in the most recent Sacramento Report.

Father Serra Still Stands Tall

Each state gets to plant two statues in the U.S. Capitol building, and some choices are mighty peculiar. You’ll find several traitorous Confederates, for instance, lining the halls of American power. Plus a disgraced politician or two, a comedian and only a handful of women.

California’s statues depict two almost-natives: Ronald Reagan and Father Junipero Serra. The latter is in the news: Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize him this week despite complaints from critics who say Father Serra doesn’t deserve honors in stone or honors as a saint.

“Native American groups in California and nationwide say Serra is not deserving of sainthood because his missions subjected natives to corporal punishment and would not allow them to leave,” USA Today reports.

Meanwhile, a modern-day cancer patient from San Diego writes in The Wall Street Journal about how “walking on Father Serra’s old California mission trail has connected me with a wellspring of joy.”

The patient, Edie Littlefield Sundby, wrote a controversial 2013 Wall Street Journal commentary blasting Obamacare based on her experience. She became a touchstone for critics of the Affordable Care Act, but critics blasted her opinion piece as misleading. As the L.A. Times reported, “there are signs that the Affordable Care Act might help save her … for (the Journal) to put her story out as if her insurance problems would disappear if only the Affordable Care Act ceased to exist is nothing short of malpractice.”

Quick News Hits

VOSD readers are clearly fascinated by the rapidly unfolding Marne Foster mess. Our hit parade is topped by three stories about the school board president’s burgeoning scandal involving her son. Check the list of the week’s Top 10 Most Popular Stories on our site here.

Rep. Duncan Hunter is advocating for a former soldier who was pulled from Afghanistan after standing up for children who were being sexually abused by the U.S.’s Afghan allies. (New York Times)

We’re at 97th on a new NerdWallet list ranking affordable metro areas for home buyers. Not even San Francisco or New York City ranked that poorly. Only three metro areas are worse: Honolulu, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas (where incomes are very low).

It’s not just that houses are so expensive here. The estimated 2015 family income here is $89,000, well below several other big metro areas with pricey homes.

Where’s the most affordable place to live? Indianapolis, where families make a bit less ($81,000) but can afford a whole lot more square feet: 5,302 versus just 975 here.

Indy sounds great! Except for the snow, the race cars and the annoying sitcom handyman next door.

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 (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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