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The San Diego County Water Authority hopes to save millions in coming years by getting electricity from sources other than San Diego Gas & Electric, the local power monopoly.
SDG&E, though, isn’t going to make that easy. The two agencies are, respectively, the region’s major suppliers of power and water. And their dispute echoes struggles both utilities are already having within their respective industries.
Right now, the Water Authority gets basically all of its power from SDG&E. By 2037, it wants to reduce that while also having huge amounts of new power to call its own.
Most of that power would come through a $1 billion joint project the Water Authority is working on with the city of San Diego. Their plan is to create a giant battery using the county’s largest reservoir, the lake behind San Vicente Dam near Lakeside.
The problem for the Water Authority is that doesn’t own power lines. So, the Water Authority needs SDG&E’s lines to move the power.
After nine months of negotiations, the two utilities are at an impasse over the rate SDG&E should be able to charge the Water Authority.
Now, the Water Authority is preparing to go to the state Legislature to get the low rate it wants.
Sacramento Report: Spotlight on CalGang
This week was a big one for efforts to reform CalGang, a state database that is supposed to help law enforcement track gangs. According to a scathing audit released this week, that database also sweeps up perfectly innocent people, including infants. Our Sara Libby, who wrote about the audit, also describes an effort by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to reform CalGang in this week’s roundup of news from the state Capitol.
Podcast: DA to the Stand
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is scheduled to testify Monday in the case of José Susumo Azano Matsura, a Mexican businessman accused of illegally funneling more than a half-million dollars to San Diego political campaigns, including Dumanis’ failed 2012 mayoral bid. On this week’s podcast, hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts talk about what we hope the DA’s testimony reveals.
• Over the years, we’ve written a lot about this case: click here for all of that reporting.
Mickey Kasparian, a top labor leader, also joins the podcast to talk about a new contract with grocers — and why they negotiate as a group — and local politics.
Commentary: Full-text Ballots Confuse Voters
There was a lot of back and forth this week over whether San Diego voters should be sent the full-text of the city ballot measures we will be asked to vote on this fall. The text of those measures will take up hundreds and hundreds of pages and probably cost the city $1 million or so to send in the mail.
On one side were people who believe that if we’re going to be asked to make these decisions we ought to be sent all the information about those decisions. On the other side were people who argue that sending voters a good, clear summary of the measures is enough — if voters want more, the full-text is online and available at libraries.
Omar Passons, an attorney who works in economic development, argues in an opinion column that the full text isn’t actually useful to most people: “the notion that giving people hundreds of pages of technical legal jargon and definitions of words that you have to look up the definitions for to understand can’t credibly be seen as increasing access to the democratic process.” He adds there’s much better uses of city money than sending a lot of phone book-sized ballots many people won’t read: “that’s one less fire engine or who knows how many homeless services we won’t be able to provide. But at least we’ll have paper. Lots and lots of paper.”
• You can opt-out from getting those via regular mail and just get emails here.
With Ellis Out, Democrats Assured City Council Majority
Republican Ray Ellis dropped out of the District 1 City Council race after a disappointing second-place finish in the June primary election to Barbara Bry, a Democrat. The two were headed for a rematch in the fall, which Ellis was unlikely to win. So, he conceded now rather than campaign for a few months and lose anyway. But his departure from the race means Democrats will maintain their majority on the council.
In a revealing sit-down with Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins, Ellis ticked off a variety of factors that caused him to drop out, including a reference to Donald Trump dragging down the Republican ticket.
Bry issued a statement thanking Ellis for his public service and reminding her supporters they still need to vote for her because Ellis’ name will remain on the ballot. Ellis’ preemptive withdrawal from the race allows his would-be donors to focus their time and money on races Republicans might win.
• KPBS asked City Councilmembers and candidates who should be the next City Council president and got not a single response of substance.
News From Elsewhere
• “A toddler whose body was found in a duffel bag at a U.S.-Mexico border crossing earlier this week was likely drowned, a prosecutor said Friday,” the Union-Tribune’s Dana Littlefield writes. “The couple traveling with the dead child were arraigned Friday on murder charges.”
• Dumanis’ office released information on three shootings involving police officers.
• A Torrey pine in Ocean Beach was spared efforts by the city to cut it down.
• The Chargers released a new video to pump everyone up for their downtown stadium and the millions of dollars in public subsidies that will make it possible. The video is narrated by former Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. He points out that the stadium would be paid for by an increase in hotel taxes and only tourists stay in hotels. To that end, he introduces this well-gilded talking point: “What could be sweeter than Raiders, Broncos and Patriot fans all helping pay for the project when they pay their hotel bill?”
Week’s Top Stories
These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Aug 5-Aug 12. You can see the 10 most popular here.
1. What I Learned Helping My Sister Use California’s New Law to End Her Life
Less than two months after the state’s new aid-in-dying measure went into effect, my sister used the law to obtain a lethal dose of drugs. “I’d rather be free than entombed in my body,” she told me. (Kelly Davis)
2. San Diego Republicans Run From Trump
In San Diego, party unity is just another political norm Donald Trump upended in 2016. (Andrew Keatts)
3. Exclusive: Padres Chairman Lays Out Concerns with Chargers’ Plans
When the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Chargers plan for a new stadium in downtown San Diego, one member of its board of directors abstained. We wanted to find out why and ended up with an exclusive interview with Padres Chairman Ron Fowler. (Scott Lewis)
4. San Diego Explained: The Future of Seaport Village
In this week’s San Diego Explained, NBC 7 San Diego’s Monica Dean and VOSD’s Andrew Keatts explain how developers – not public officials – are framing the discussion about San Diego’s waterfront, and why that has some people concerned. (Kinsee Morlan)
5. Scathing Audit Bolsters Critics’ Fears About Secretive State Gang Database
An explosive state audit confirms many of the fears that San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and others have long expressed about the state’s gang database: that it cannot ensure individuals’ privacy, that people can be entered in the database without proper substantiation and that people are kept in the database long after their names should have been purged. (Sara Libby)