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Two local water districts are lowering their water rates, and another is considering doing the same.

That’s good news for customers in those districts, but it also points to an awkward truth, Ry Rivard writes in a new story: “These agencies are walking a fine line: They are cutting prices because they expect demand to go up. At the same time, they are still talking about the importance of conserving water. But too much conservation means sales won’t rebound and water agencies might have to raise rates again. Yet, lower prices might prompt a return to old habits – squeaky clean cars, lush lawns and long showers.”

As the drought eases, mandates to use less water are being relaxed. That means more demand, which drives prices down. If the drought keeps going, though, those restrictions could return and force prices back up.

“Some people, like San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate and a UCSD economist, have proposed other ways of financing water services,” Rivard notes, “but such solutions have their own complications.”

Judge Dings County on Election

“A Superior Court judge has determined that San Diego County didn’t properly audit votes from the June primary election, a lapse in quality control that could allow for errors and fraud to go unnoticed,” the U-T reports.

According to the U-T, the registrar of voters “wrongly excluded provisional and some vote-by-mail ballots when completing a hand-count of votes from 1 percent of county’s precincts.” It’s too late, however, to change the results and turn losers into winners (and vice versa) because the results are now final.

Inside the Azano Trial: Name-Checking Galore

U-T reporter Greg Moran has been tweeting up a storm about the new revelations in the federal trial of Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura and others, who are accused of illegally interfering in local elections by throwing money around (it’s illegal for foreign nationals to contribute to U.S. political campaigns). District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Mayor Kevin Faulconer are getting mentioned in the case so far — but the mayor’s team says the mayor “had no knowledge of this foreign money scheme and condemns these illegal activities in the strongest way.”

What, exactly, was Azano trying to accomplish by pouring money into local races? That’s precisely what Liam Dillon tried to unravel in this in-depth series last year. Though prosecutors in the case are arguing Azano wanted to develop property along the waterfront, Dillon found that Azano’s long-running feud with Sempra, the power giant that owns SDG&E, likely played a large role as well.

Law & Order Roundup: Governor to Attend SDPD Officer’s Funeral

Gov. Jerry Brown will attend Friday’s memorial service in honor of slain San Diego Police officer Jonathan “J.D.” De Guzman, who was shot to death last week. (KPBS/City News Service)

• U-T columnist Logan Jenkins notes that pot legalization is on the ballot this fall, but it may not bring weed to your part of our fair county: “don’t look forward to popping down to your neighborhood shop to browse for gourmet ganja.”

The problem is that cities and counties can keep marijuana shops from opening. Locally, they’re only currently allowed in the city outside of an exception of a shop near El Cajon.

“Take it to the bank,” Jenkins writes. “Leaders of hostile jurisdictions, motivated by worries about crime or public health or just plain moral repugnance, will whack weed sales with a vengeance.” But they’ll miss out on a chance to impose big taxes on the stores.

Assisted Death Efforts Begin

The L.A. Times profiles a 69-year-old man with terminal bone marrow cancer who’s one of the first in the state to take advantage of the new assisted-death law. He has a prescription for medications that will kill him.

He’s waiting for the cancer to sap his energy so much that he can’t function. “I’ll know that by how I feel,” he said. “It gives me some comfort in having control over what the end of my life will be like.”

California is the fifth state to allow physician-assisted suicide. The man with the prescription says he plans to live the rest of his life “fully, thankfully and joyfully.”

Coastal Commission’s Openness at Stake

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez is touring the state’s coast this summer and writing about efforts to protect it. In the latest column in his series, he warns that a bill to make the Coastal Commission more transparent is in danger of being killed off.

“This coast is ours, meaning everyone’s. The business of preserving it, protecting fragile sea and plant life, and increasing public access regardless of income or lobbying clout, is a sacred duty,” he writes. “And it’s business that has to be conducted in the open, not in private.”

Lopez urges readers to make their opinions known to local Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who oversees the Assembly committee that’s looking at the bill. According to Lopez, the committee holds the key to the bill’s future.

New Look for AIDS Hospice House

After weeks of controversy, the city has decided to sell a Mission Hills home that’s considered historic because it served as an early AIDS hospice. Property next to the home will be restored, and the ground floor is slated to become a community center. The ultimate idea is to turn the property into homes, offices and a coffee shop. (U-T)

For details about San Diego’s forgotten gay past, check my history flashback story from last month.

North County Report: Superintendent’s Yoga Obsession

Yes, the elementary school district in Encinitas has had a big flap over yoga classes, which religious-minded critics warn are warping their children. At least now the annoying dispute is over, and we can all go back to … Oh, wait.

VOSD’s weekly North County Report points to a Coast News Group story that finds the district superintendent failed to report getting sent for free to multiple conferences about … yoga. One of the conferences was even on the East Coast. The superintendent says he didn’t have to report the gifts.

Also in the North County Report: An eyesore that won’t go away soon, a crackdown on illegal railroad crossings and a new year-round homeless shelter in Vista.

Quick News Hits: Taste of the City

• The local taxpayers advocacy group likes a measure on the fall ballot that will boost sales taxes in the county to pay for roads and public transit. (City News Service)

• KPBS profiles a “grief camp” for kids — it’s actually called a “Good Grief Campout” — whose military parents lost their lives.

• We’re the nation’s sixth hippest metro area, supposedly. Sacramento beats us. So does Grand Rapids. I demand a recount! (We are the best out of the top 10 in terms of music and live entertainment venues, but we don’t stack up well in terms of music and record dealers.)

• Pokemon fans: San Diego’s hotspots include Balboa Park, the Embarcadero (including Seaport Village and the Navy Pier), Point Loma, Old Town and Carlsbad’s Legoland California. (L.A. Times)

• If cities had flavors, what would they taste like? Reddit users are having lots of fun with this question with answers ranging from the amusing (“purple kush and sushi” for Vancouver) to the snarky (“Old Bay and herpes” for Baltimore).

OK, but what about San Diego’s flavor? Do we taste like zinc oxide and fish tacos? Eucalyptus, avocados and despair? Ennui with a dollop of boardwalk?

Got a good one? Drop me a line or tweet at me. The best suggestions will appear in this space next week. Just don’t say “a waffle dropped at the beach.” Somebody already came up with that one. (Get it? A Sandy Eggo. Well, we could be called worse.)

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also a board member and ex-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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