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The city of San Diego’s water billing mess has been big news in recent weeks, leading a watchdog committee to ask the city’s independent auditor to look into the issue.

But a leader in the city’s water department warned the committee at a recent meeting not to look into the city’s smart meter program, which some residents suspect is part of the problem. The committee agreed not to audit the smart meter program, and one of the votes not to came from a committee member who used to run the program.

It’s the latest example, as our reporter Ry Rivard outlines in a new story, of a history of passive oversight of the city’s water department.

NYT: S.D. Braces for Impact of Qualcomm Sale

Has the possible sale of Qualcomm been distracting you lately? If you’re in business, the N.Y. Times says there’s a good chance that it has.

“People here are so accustomed to everything that comes with being Qualcomm’s home that they’re having a hard time imagining the city without that distinction. But suddenly that’s the prospect they are confronting,” the paper reports.

The paper quotes Jason Hughes, chief executive of Hughes Marino, a commercial real estate brokerage, as saying: “As a businessperson in San Diego, if you’re not following this you’re living in a cave.”

He added: “It’s almost like they’re our flag.”

A Very Deadly Year Already for S.D. Pedestrians

Hundreds of pedestrians are wounded each year in the city of San Diego, and more are killed. Still, “while local elected officials have pledged to overhaul intersections, reduce vehicle speeds and increase public awareness about people killed while crossing the street or riding a bicycle, the city’s efforts have seemingly hit the skids in recent months,” the U-T reports.

Nine pedestrians have already been killed in 2018 alone.

Someone Doesn’t Know What a ‘Sanctuary City’ Is

U-T sports columnist and man-yelling-at-kids-on-his-lawn Nick Canepa is still bemoaning the loss of the Chargers and says San Diego is “in grave danger of becoming a sports sanctuary city,” whatever that means.

He adds, impenetrably: “It seems we’re taking baby steps when we’ve already taken them stumbling, perhaps, but for a time we actually reached adulthood when it came to our fun and games. San Diego itself of course hasn’t grown up. It just thinks it has.”

Kissing Up to New Bosses: Then and Now

The U-T has been posting copies of newspaper front pages from its past as part of its celebration of the 150th anniversary of The San Diego Union. A couple weeks ago, it highlighted a front page from 1928 with a gushing article about the Union’s new owner, a colonel from Illinois by the name of Copley: “it heralds a type of investment that will assuredly have a tremendous influence upon the city’s growth and its development… thus informally we bespeak San Diego’s warm welcome to this new investor in the city’s future.”

Now, the U-T (and the L.A. Times) have a new owner — Los Angeles billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. How is the U-T greeting him? In pretty much the same way: Gushingly.

“The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board is optimistic about the future and about comparisons Soon-Shiong draws to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post…,” the paper declared. “Soon-Shiong’s purchase of the Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times for $500 million (plus the assumption of $90 million in pension debt) is twice what Bezos paid for the Post in 2013. That tells us he’s committed to journalism.”

We reviewed the sale and the economics of newspapers when it was announced.

Quick News Hits: Girl Power Meets Pot Power

A ruling is expected this week “in the lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s effort to bypass environmental laws to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border…,” KPBS reports. “Environmental groups and the state of California argue the federal government does not have the right to waive a host of environmental laws to build prototypes and replace 17 miles of border wall in San Diego County.”

The federal judge in the case is Gonzalo Curiel, whom the president attacked in 2016 over his heritage.

Gas prices have stopped going up. (Times of S.D.)

There’s been plenty of buzz over the last few days about a Girl Scout who made a cookie-selling killing by stationing herself in front of a San Diego marijuana dispensary. She sold 300 boxes, according to The N.Y. Times, which belatedly followed up on a 10News story. Turns out “there are no nationwide policies related to marijuana dispensaries,” the paper reports.

The founder of the dispensary Urbn Leaf, which initially posted a photo of the girl online, tells the paper that “we were definitely surprised by the controversy this created.”

He added: “there has been an outpouring of support from the public nationwide for this young entrepreneur and her creative marketing strategies. Why wouldn’t we support a local girl’s fund-raising activities?”

Why not indeed? And there’s a special bonus to all this. Just think of all the customers who will tell something along these lines to their spouses: “I’m just going around the corner for some Girl Scout cookies, sweetie! Honest. I’ll get you some Banana Kush and Lemon Haze. I mean, uh, Thin Mints and Savannah Smiles!”

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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