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United we stand, divided we are Democrats. We’re seeing that happen here: The local left is splitting big-time over boosting the sales tax in the county by a half-cent to pay for a variety of transportation upgrades.

Several liberal groups say the deal doesn’t do enough to protect the environment by supporting public transit or to properly pay the construction workers involved in the projects, reports our Andrew Keatts. They’re butting heads with a pair of North County politicians in particular who say there’s no way to make the deal better without boosting the chance that it will lose at the ballot box in November.

“We are both thoughtful, intelligent women who have studied the issues,” they wrote in response to a claim that they were duped by bogus information from SANDAG.

Keatts has the play-by-play. As for the Republicans, they don’t like the measure, meaning that the liberal groups are uniting with their opposite numbers.

• Things can get peculiar when a government agency like a school board tries to educate the public about a ballot measure that it wants to pass. One person’s “education” can sound to another like “advocacy,” which agencies aren’t supposed to engage in.

A local government coalition’s work to support a half-cent sales tax measure is sounding to some critics like advocacy, Keatts reports. Whatever the effort is, there’s $500,000 devoted to what’s described as outreach, education and public input.

Scott Peters’ Big Day

Rep. Scott Peters joined the Democratic sit-in on the (literal) House floor yesterday, and made a splash by offering live video via Periscope. “Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee offered thanks and a suggestion that he just let a millennial handle this stuff already.

When the House’s cameras were cut, CSPAN and others aired Peters’ footage instead. The lawmakers were trying to force a House vote on gun control.

 Slate is out with a helpful online tool that will let you know how much the NRA has given to your representatives in Congress since 1990.

Our two U.S. senators, both Democrats, haven’t taken a dime from the NRA, although it’s spent more than $220,000 in opposition to Sen. Barbara Boxer. Both of our local Republican congressmen, Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter (the younger), have taken contributions from the NRA, but it was less than $30,000 each.

Turns out that the NRA isn’t funneling tons of money into campaigns. Its real power, it seems, is in the ability to mobilize its members to bombard Congress with messages.

North County’s Issa, the richest member of Congress and one of the loudest voices on the right, has had a smaller profile over the last few years. He did, however, pop up in the news last month when he adeptly hopped over a fence to avoid reporters at the Republican National Committee headquarters.

Issa had a shockingly close call in the June primary against a Democrat. But the Cook Political Report says he’s still “likely” to hold his seat, as is local Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, who’s not thought to be facing a tough race.

We are, by the way, a hot spot in terms of competitive House races, according to the Cook ratings. We’re home to two of only a few dozen close races among 435 seats nationwide.

Poway Taps Interim Supe

Poway Unified board members are turning to someone new to temporarily lead the district while Superintendent John Collins remains on paid leave. Edward Velasquez will become Poway’s interim superintendent Aug. 1, reports Ashly McGlone.

It’s not Velasquez’s first time taking over in a less-than-ideal situation: “Velasquez worked at San Ysidro schools from February until July 2015 following the departure of disgraced superintendent Manuel Paul and other interim leaders. Velasquez, who spent most of his career in Los Angeles, has been credited with helping bring that district back from the brink of insolvency,” McGlone writes.

Homeless Helper Told to Buzz Off?

The homeless and the All-Star Game are in the news once again. A local pastor claims the Police Department threatened to go after him if he continued to offer meals to the homeless on the street downtown next month, when the All-Star Game comes to town, CityBeat reports. “Everybody at the table was telling us to stop,” he says of a meeting with cops and downtown boosters.

Those attending the meeting offered little clarification about exactly what was said, although a mayoral spokesman insists there’s no homeless purge in the works: “Our understanding is that the meeting you’re referring to was to encourage providers to move away from homeless feedings and use their resources to support the Housing-First model.” Whatever the case, the pastor seems determined to continue feeding the homeless.

Rep. Scott Peters announced Tuesday that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro has agreed to look into revamping a formula for funding to combat homelessness that, as revealed by our reporting, has left San Diego in the lurch. The mayor is already touting this.

In a VOSD commentary, Councilman Todd Gloria says housing is the solution to homelessness, not law enforcement, meals or temporary shelter: “the way we end homelessness is through the housing first model, which prioritizes getting homeless people housed quickly rather than focusing on temporary shelter or interventions.”

Why Our Power Costs So Much: A ‘Dirty’ Deal?

Inewsource is out with an extensive investigation into how an inside deal shaped San Diego’s power picture: “many believe the deal for the Palomar and Otay Mesa power plants was dirty, and some believe it set the stage for years of similarly sullied agreements that helped determine what San Diego County residents pay — or overpay — for power to this day … The deal shows that the California Public Utilities Commission, responsible for regulating corporate utilities, dictated winners and losers, toying with decisions that should be based on who can provide reliable electricity at least cost.”

North County Report: San Marcos May Allow Hyperlocal Votes

San Marcos may follow the lead of Escondido and create geographic districts for City Council members instead of having them represent the entire city. About one-third of the city is Latino, but there hasn’t been a Latino Council member in 20 years.

That’s just one of the many newsy tidbits in this week’s North County Report, which also takes note of brewery news and a mysterious statement from Rep. Duncan Hunter, the prominent Trump supporter: “I think what he says and what he’ll do are two different things.” Thanks for clearing that up!

Quick News Hits: All the (UFO) Things

A retired/not-so-retired undersheriff is getting paid on top of his pension. (U-T)

The Reader investigates sex trafficking in San Diego in an extensive story. “One woman can gross anywhere from $500 to $10,000 a day,” the Reader reports, “depending on sporting events or conventions in town, and she rarely sees a penny of the profit.”

The San Diego region has produced great actors (La Mesa’s Dennis Hopper, La Jolla’s Gregory Peck) but we’re a bit light on great bands unless you think Iron Butterfly, Stone Temple Pilots and Nickel Creek count. There is Blink-182 from Poway, of course, although its reputation is a bit controversial.

Now, former band member Tom DeLonge has new priorities. DeLonge, who lives locally, has become a space alien buff. He’s “launching a multimedia franchise called Sekret Machines that will seek to investigate ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena’ from a serious perspective,” Mic reports. “I think there has been [alien] hardware,” he says, “and whether by design or by accident, it’s fallen in multiple countries … events have happened on the ground. It’s all around us. I know of stuff I can’t talk about right now.”

Just whisper it in my ear, Mr. DeLonge. No, not that ear. Or the other one. My third ear, over here under my antenn … Oh no, I’ve said too much!

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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