Some smart meters are known to be unreliable. / Image courtesy of NBC 7

In the early days of the city’s “smart” water meter program, the city seems to have rushed out to buy equipment from a company that has since revealed problems with its meters.

In 2012, the City Council gave water department officials approval to buy $2.1 million worth of new meters over three years from that company, Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products.

In the first year of the contract, the water department spent $3 million. Over the next two years it spent another $1 million. That’s $1.8 million it wasn’t authorized to spend.

The spending may also be just another sign of long-standing water department problems that Voice of San Diego and NBC 7 Responds have been investigating over the past year.

Ironically, despite aggressive spending, the smart meter program is still years behind schedule. The city is now considering a $25 million contract to get it back on track.

Chula Vista Police Investigate Arson Against Liberal Organizing Group

From Andrew Keatts: Investigators from the Chula Vista Police Department suspect an arsonist broke into the offices of the liberal organizing group that led the local campaign on two rent control measures and set it on fire.

The group, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, held a press conference Monday to say they would continue the work of organizing low-income and minority communities for political causes.

“We’re devastated in some ways by the hate against our movement and against the work that we’ve been fighting for,” said Paola Martinez-Montes, the director for ACCE’s San Diego chapter. “But if this was an act of intimidation, we will not be stopped.”

Just before midnight Friday, someone broke into the office and sprayed an accelerant under a desk where the group stored its signs supporting rent control measures, the group said.

Martinez-Montes said the group had received harsh political messages over the course of the campaign, but nothing that made them suspect they could be the target of a violent attack.

“It was an act of cowardice and it will not be tolerated in the city of Chula Vista,” said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas. “I know that our police department is fully engaged in investigating this crime, and that perpetrator, whoever that is, whatever persons they are, they will be brought to justice.”

City spokeswoman Anne Steinberger said she expects the city to have more information on the investigation soon.

“That we know – it was intentional arson,” Salas said. “It’s unequivocal that that’s what it was.”

In 2010, ACCE broke away from its parent organization, ACORN, when it was facing national scandal after conservative activists released undercover videos that appeared to show employees advising activists to break the law.

ACCE has locally advocated for and organized around minimum wage increases, voter registration and affordable housing initiatives, before focusing this year on rent control.

Neighborhood Tensions Know No Borders

Though much of the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico is still about 1,500 miles from the U.S. border, one small group of LGBTQ migrants that split off from the main caravan has already arrived in Tijuana, Maya Srikrishnan reports in this week’s Border Report.

A video from a press conference gone awry drives home how tensions surrounding the caravan transcend borders. Residents of the upscale Playas de Tijuana neighborhood crash the migrants’ press conference to shout their concerns about the group’s presence, but insist they’re not being discriminatory when asked by reporters.

Another point that really drives home how the concerns echo some of those we see on this side of the border: The migrants, of course, are staying in an Airbnb.

Abed’s Lead Shrinks to 20 Votes

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is now leading by just 20 — two-zero! — votes over Mac McNamara in the latest batch of results released Monday.

Another election contest that remains too close to call is the very bizarre race for the District 4 Board of Equalization seat. Republican Sen. Joel Anderson has a 2,138-vote (0.2 percentage point) lead over Democrat Mike Schaefer, a perennial candidate with … quite a resume. Here’s how Jesse Marx described has his history:

Democratic leaders want nothing to do with Mike Schaefer, a former San Diego city councilman who was indicted – and later acquitted – as part of a Yellow Cab bribery scandal in 1970. The following decade, the Los Angeles Times called him “one of California’s most notorious slumlords.” More recently, he was disbarred in Nevada and hit with a restraining order by the brother from “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

Anderson had his own troubles more recently, after an incident in which he threatened a female lobbyist in a Sacramento bar. The Senate Rules Committee sent Anderson a letter of reprimand in which it called his behavior “completely unreasonable.”

More close races:

  • Sean Elo is up by about 3,000 votes over City Councilman David Alvarez in a race for the San Diego Community College District board.
  • Vivian Moreno is still leading in District 8 over Antonio Martinez; the latest batch of results put her up by 665 votes.
  • Statewide: Tony Thurmond took a nearly 4,000-vote lead (out of more than 7 million votes cast) over Marshall Tuck for superintendent of public instruction.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby.

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