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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. A few years back, water officials spent hundreds of millions on water treatment plans because Southern California liked to guzzle.

Now, we’re conserving water, and treatment plants are going idle. But, as VOSD’s Ry Rivard reports, we’re still paying the price for the debt that agencies racked up to build the plants. “That means even as water use goes down, water rates for some customers will go up,” Rivard writes.

Not a problem, a water spokesman tells us: “we don’t build freeways to handle traffic on Sunday morning, we build them to accommodate rush-hour traffic.”

The Mayor’s Doing What???

KPBS broke the news Thursday that San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is doing something he rarely does and something he always does.

The rare move: He’s actually going to attend a meeting of the San Diego Association of Governments. (The mayor’s attendance is so rare, the news brought out the snark from the risk-averse agency’s communications team).

And the wholly natural move: Faulconer is going to the meeting to vote in opposition to putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot. The so-called Quality of Life measure would fund highway and transit projects and open-space plans.

But it has attracted opposition from many angles. Republicans and some city leaders in North County have rallied against it. And on the other side, some environmentalists oppose the tax saying they want a bigger focus on transit. Some of them pushed hard on the mayor to vote no claiming the tax hike and construction it would fund would actually hurt the city’s ability to meet goals in its Climate Action Plan.

• The mayor’s opposition is not certain to doom the tax plan, however. The city of San Diego has a weighted vote on SANDAG but the other representative from the city, Councilman Todd Gloria, supports the tax. Read the op-ed Gloria penned with the Chula Vista mayor and a county supervisor.

• The Citizens Plan convention center/hotel- tax-hike initiative seems to be on course to land on the November ballot. Meanwhile, Ed Harris, the Democrat challenging Mayor Faulconer said he is opposed to the Chargers stadium and convention center expansion tax hike currently in the form of a petition. Harris does support the Citizens Plan.

So yes, city of San Diego voters may see three different local tax increase measures on the November ballot.

North County Report: District 3 Debate Growth, Again

VOSD’s weekly North County Report leads with news of a county supervisor debate. The rivals talked growth and the flexibility (or lack of it) that should be allowed when projects don’t fit into the county’s general plan blueprint.

Also: Turmoil in Poway schools, an averted strike by North County bus drivers, and a possible closure of the Oceanside Pier at night.

For Politicians, Gifts Are Par for Course

The L.A. Times digs into state legislator disclosures and reports on the $32,000, at least, that they received in gifts related to sports in 2015. (That’s out of more than $900,000 in gifts overall).

Locally, legislators Brian Maienschein accepted $375 in Chargers game tickets; Toni Atkins took $190 worth of meals and parking from the Del Mar racetrack’s Turf Club; Marty Block accepted $147 in SDSU basketball ticket and dinner expenses; and Rocky Chavez went to a minor league game ($99) courtesy of the California Cut Flower Commission. (His district includes Carlsbad and its famous flower fields.)

Health Care: Nonprofit Busted

From the U-T: “Mental Health Systems, a social-services charity that collects and spends millions of tax dollars each year, improperly directed public funds to its for-profit subsidiary and sought reimbursements from San Diego County for costs it did not pay, a county investigation has found.”

• A City News Service story highlights local hospitals that got A grades in a rating based on patient safety: UCSD Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, UCSD Diego Thornton Hospital and Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center in La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, and Tri-City Medical Center.

But who scored the worst on these ratings, which claim to measure a hospital’s “overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors”? As the report shows, these hospitals got a C: Paradise Valley Hospital, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Memorial Hospital, Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, Pomerado Hospital and Palomar Medical Center.

No local hospital got a D — although some in Imperial County did — or an F.

Meaningless California Primary?

Attention is starting to turn to California in the presidential race. On the Dem side, Bernie Sanders laid off hundreds of campaign workers and said he’d focus heavily on our state. As he told the NY Times, “if we can win the largest state in this country, that will send a real message… that this is a campaign that is moving in the direction it should.”

The GOP’s Ted Cruz, meanwhile, announced that his vice presidential running mate is California’s own Carly Fiorina, who’s well known here for one of the most notorious political ads of all time.

Who will win? Fox News polls released last week put Trump way ahead and Clinton slightly ahead. One interesting tidbit dug up by 538.com: GOP turnout has been really low in the last few states, suggesting that interest in the primary is waning, possibly because anti-Trumpeters are “discouraged.”

• On Twitter: Oh the shade of it all, Senator Barbara Boxer! And: A good point about John Kasich and San Diego cuisine. Plus a dagger though my preservationist heart and a nice tip of the hat about a serious topic from Councilman Todd Gloria.

• Capitol Weekly digs into state voter registration numbers and finds signs that there’s a surge: “This year we are seeing a doubling of registration growth among Latinos, and a more than 150 percent increase for some young voters, and a near-tripling for Democrats.”

• San Diego voters don’t always nail it. Voters here rejected Abraham Lincoln not once but twice, probably because our few residents tended to be Southern sympathizers. For more, check this VOSD history flashback.

• The local federal lawsuit against Trump University is progressing. NBC 7 says Trump’s side claims that his brand represents “high quality, excellence and luxury,” but he didn’t review marketing materials for legality.

Quick News Hits: Star Light, Star B… Hey, What’s That?!

• Just how bad was the delay for parents who tried calling 911 when their baby was attacked by their dog? As we know, the parents waited 28 seconds and then, in a separate call, 34 seconds for an answer and then went to a hospital on their own. According to a city spokesman via KPBS, the average 911 wait time in the city is 13 seconds, and “the national standard for 911 calls is to answer 90 percent within 10 seconds, but many cities fall behind that goal.”

• PETA is still targeting SeaWorld. This time, it wants the chain to send animals to undefined sanctuaries. It’s not clear who would pay for them, and SeaWorld says no. (U-T)

• “With an impasse declared in January, labor negotiations in the South Bay Union School District are now being overseen by a state mediator whose job is to broker a settlement,” the U-T reports. The district runs K-8 schools in Imperial Beach and parts of southern San Diego.

FootGolf is a thing, apparently. (Press release)

• Via Vintage San Diego, this 1957 clip of the flashing marquee of the El Cortez Hotel’s Sky Room is everything. Pour yourself a Manhattan, whatever that is, and enjoy the show.

• Speaking of sky shows, what was that green streak in the sky on Tuesday night? Space junk? Probably not. A meteor? Possibly.

How about aliens? Hmm. The National UFO Reporting Center lists more than 12,000 reports of UFOs seen in California, including a “fleet” seen near Mission Bay earlier this month, and an “orange round illuminated object” spotted in Lakeside.

Oh good. I’ve solved the mystery of my lost glow-in-the-dark basketball!

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

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

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