The Morning Report
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The morning after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned, Rep. Darrell Issa praised Flynn’s decision as the sign of “an administration that wants to hold itself to a high standard.”
As head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa was aggressive in pursuing President Barack Obama’s actions, most famously in regards to Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service, among a slew of investigations. He’s no longer head of that committee, but Issa so far seems less interested in what President Donald Trump knew about Flynn’s communications with the Russians, and more concerned about how the information was leaked out.
“If there is credible evidence of any wrongdoing of anyone from POTUS on down, of course they need to be followed up, but just because Chuck Schumer says it, doesn’t make it so. … Do I support this president? He is our president and I will try make him a success, will I hold him accountable? Yes,” Issa told Boston Herald Morning Radio.
That was before Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing, in which Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump knew about Flynn’s communications for over two weeks.
Issa’s office didn’t answer my follow-up questions about what sort of accountability Issa would be pushing for, and what questions he will be asking Trump’s administration.
Meanwhile, pressure is growing in the 49th and 50th congressional districts for Issa and Rep. Duncan Hunter to hold town hall meetings with their constituents.
Several groups have sprung up in recent weeks from Escondido to Solana Beach, tied to the “Indivisible” movement, which provides local groups with tactics to resist Trump’s policies.
Along with Indivisible San Diego, the largest group in North County seems to be Indivisible49, which is hosting a town hall on Feb. 21 in Vista. This week, a full-page ad was placed in the Union-Tribune, asking Issa to attend the meeting during an upcoming break.
Changes at USDA Hinder Local Fight Against ‘Puppy Mills’
Of the series of changes made at federal agencies when the Trump administration took over, one in particular reverberates in North County, where animal welfare advocates have used federal data in their fight against animal abuse.
At city council meetings across North County for the past couple of years, activists held up data from a U.S. Department of Agriculture portal on complaints against breeders and kennels, to help enact bans on stores that sell dogs from so-called “puppy mills.” That portal, however, was recently shut down.
The Coast News’ Aaron Burgin writes, “the USDA was suddenly cutting off the lifeblood of information that has fueled the progress they have seen across the country, including in San Diego, where multiple cities have adopted retail pet store bans in a large part due to the reports linking animals at the shops to scofflaw kennels.”
Burgin reports that it’s not just the activists who lose out when access to the data is slowed through standard public records requests: Cities and other regulators rely on the data to enforce laws they enact against selling animals that were bred in inhumane conditions.
“This is a consumer fraud issue,” activist Andrea Cunningham told Burgin. “This is a taxpayer issue. This isn’t just about animal cruelty.”
Carlsbad Power Plant to Keep on Burning
Inewsource recently reported that the proposed peaker-style power plant in Carlsbad wouldn’t be open until at least the end of 2018, over a year after the plant’s owners said it would be needed to meet electricity demands when the existing Encina station goes offline.
That delay was due to lawsuits over the deal that was struck between the plants’ owners, NRG Energy, and SDG&E, which happened without competitive bidding to ensure the new plant would be online in time.
Now, inewsource writes that the existing plant will stay on until the end of next year, undercutting the urgency behind the contract for a new gas-fired peaker plant. Even with the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Encina has barely been used.
“In the years since San Onofre, near the Orange County line, went offline in a scandal involving faulty steam generators, no particular burden has fallen on the existing Encina plant. In the three years after San Onofre closed, Encina operated just 5 to 7 percent of the time,” Ingrid Lobet writes.
Peaker plants are needed at periods of high demand, and rather than burn natural gas for a few hours (or days, in the case of aging Encina), one of the proposals for replacing Encina included battery storage.
In fact, the world’s largest battery facility is already under construction in Escondido, to soak up the abundance of solar that’s produced during the day, and release it when it’s needed at night.
Also in the News
• Solutions residents proposed to address homelessness in Oceanside include using city property to allow encampments, providing more temporary shelter and giving people one-way flights out of town. (Union-Tribune)
• Thousands of people rallied in support of Planned Parenthood in Encinitas. (Union-Tribune)
• Everett Delano has filed a lawsuit against the city of Escondido on behalf of a retirement home near a proposed water treatment plant. (Union-Tribune)
• Escondido residents weighed in on the Country Club development, and unsurprisingly said it was too many homes for the site. (Union-Tribune)
• Proposition 57, which passed in November, removes prosecutors’ ability to try juveniles as adults. (The decision now rests with judges.) Courts are now struggling with how to handle cases that happened when the defendants were minors, like the case of an Oceanside man who allegedly killed a police officer when he was 16 years old. (Union-Tribune)
• Camp Pendleton will offer tours of the Ranch House through September, as part of the base’s 75th anniversary. (Union-Tribune)
• Whole Foods in Encinitas is closing this month. (The Coast News)