Yes, you can try to stop the city of San Diego’s big water rate hike, the one that will make water 40 percent more expensive over the next 5 years. You’ll just need 140,000 people to join you in delivering forms to the city clerk — no signed petitions, no emails, no faxes — and you’ll need to get this done by Nov. 17.
The good news, such as it is: Water districts can and do make it even harder to object than San Diego does. The bad news: Even if you get a bunch of people to object, a water district can still find a way to ignore all of you. Is it any wonder that water price hikes tend to go through?
VOSD’s Ry Rivard explains all this and makes a note of the counterintuitive reason why we have to pay more: Because we’re using less.
• The L.A. Times reports that a 2016 ballot measure could snarl plans for statewide water projects by requiring many to be approved by voters first.
Fact Check: Integration Exaggeration
San Diego school board member Richard Barrera recently said this: “In many ways our students are more segregated having come out of a couple of decades of an infrastructure built around integration.” Is he right? Via San Diego Fact Check, VOSD’s Mario Koran determines that the former school board president made an unfounded claim.
At issue: How should the district balance the appeal of neighborhood schools with the need to avoid segregating ethnic groups? “There’s a great deal of truth to the larger point Barrera is trying to make,” Koran writes. “One of the ways in which the district has tried to integrate schools has actually helped keep schools segregated.”
• Last month was the hottest in San Diego’s recorded history, and 2014 and 2015 were the hottest in the past 65 years by one measurement. Plenty of San Diego Unified schoolchildren have gotten to sweat it out: As Inewsource reports, more than 40 percent of the district’s campuses lack full air conditioning. That’s not a problem if your kids attend a school where parents can foot the bill themselves, like Bird Rock parents just did. Now, each school is slated to get four portable air conditioners, enough to keep two rooms cool.
That will help a bit as the district tries to get more AC on board. Still, “teachers describe shortening their lessons, postponing memorization tasks, student distraction with small personal fans, overhead fans blowing papers into disarray, and five or six class trips daily to the bathroom for the youngest students” because of small bladders and big water needs. One teacher said students had passed out from the heat.
Inewsource talked to other large school districts in the county and found all were fully or almost fully air conditioned.
Prime Time for Pedestrian Deaths
The last few months of the year are the deadliest time to be a pedestrian here, VOSD’s Koran reports. A big jump in deaths during evening rush hour suggests that early darkness could be a factor. Statistics also reveal something else: Drivers tend to be at fault, often causing deaths by making improper turns. But pedestrians make lots of mistakes too, often by crossing in mid-block.
Court Weighs In on Goldsmith’s Private Email
There’s been another twist in the endless legal drama over public access to thousands of pages of private emails from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. As the Reader puts it, an appellate court has ruled that “emails sent to and from his personal accounts discussing city business are a matter of public record.” Victory is being declared on both sides: By attorney Cory Briggs (who says this supports transparency) and the city (which says the ruling supports the way Goldsmith did things). There’s still a battle over who should pay legal fees.
• Mayor Kevin Faulconer will soon head to the Big Apple to try to sell NFL owners on keeping the Chargers here. Meanwhile, we might get a USFL team. No, don’t check your calendar. It is not 1984. The idea is to create a kind of NFL minor league.
• The City Council has tentatively approved a plan to embrace more solar power at municipal buildings: 25 properties, including police stations and libraries among others, will get solar panels. (City News Service)
• Seattle is the third big West Coast city to declare a state of emergency over the homeless problem, following Portland and Los Angeles. This doesn’t seem to just be a symbolic action. The move appears to allow Seattle — where 45 homeless people have died on the streets this year — to have more freedom from regulations and to ask for more money.
• Ocean Beach’s leftie residents are anything but thrilled about the prospect of more surveillance cameras in town. (OB Rag)
Episcopalians Close Three Churches
The local Episcopal Diocese is closing three churches in Vista, Oceanside and Imperial County. Bishop James Mathes expects other local churches may merge: “The mission of the church is not to support or maintain every building; buildings must support the serving church.”
Culture Report: Councilman’s Beer Awakening
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report leads with a check-in with Councilman Chris Cate, whose council district — including Clairemont, Mira Mesa, Kearny Mesa and environs — is home to 22 breweries. He’s toured them all on a mission to figure out how to help them survive and thrive in what he likes to call the city’s “beer belt.” (As if we need to be thinking about what beer does to belts.)
Also in the Culture Report: Art San Diego, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and a “silent disco dance room.” Warning: Anyone who snarks about how this may be the best kind of disco will be permanently banned from Funky Town.
Quick News Hits: 1970s Flashback (Hide the Kids)
• “Southern California Edison said it is confident in its plans to store tons of highly radioactive waste at San Onofre indefinitely,” KPBS reports. “But reports that the company knew about potential problems with faulty steam generators and installed the system anyway has undermined Edison’s credibility.” Meanwhile, the parent company of SDG&E reported mixed financial numbers. (U-T)
• San Diego is now one of only three big U.S. cities where the mayor is a Republican.
• No, you won’t definitely get to know if your doctor is on probation. (AP)
• Those local soccer players evicted from a Southwest plane after allegedly being disruptive on a flight are claiming they’re victims of anti-Middle Eastern prejudice. The four men facing federal charges are Chaldean Christians who allegedly refused to follow directions from flight attendants and were aggressive. A lawyer says: “We do not punish people for ‘talking back’ in this country.” The plane, bound for Chicago, had to pull over in Amarillo, Texas, to let the men off. (Dallas Morning News)
• It’s supposed to get down to around 50 degrees again tonight. Please enjoy this live video of San Diegans rushing for their winter coats and electric blankets.
• Rumor has it that 1970s San Diego TV anchor Harold Greene inspired Will Farrell’s “Anchorman.” But did local anchors really wear outrageous clothes back then? Yeppers.
For proof, just check out this snippet of KGTV/Channel 10 news video from 1976 posted this week on Facebook by Vintage San Diego. I’m told that anchor Jack White is decked out in kelly green, weatherman Maclovio Perez (who’s still around on Texas TV) is in slate and the guy whose name we can’t remember is wearing (God help us) a color named after a certain tart fruit.
Stay cranberry, San Diego!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.