A little-known government body in San Diego is about to make big decisions on something we use every day: Water.
LAFCO, which stands for Local Agency Formation Commission, are boundary referees with a lot of political muscle – if they want to use it. MacKenzie Elmer writes that LAFCOs are like little legislatures, endowed with powers to create new cities or special districts and control how they provide public services.
What’s at stake: Two small, rural water districts want a divorce from their water seller, the San Diego County Water Authority, because they think they can buy cheaper water somewhere else. But there’s a lot of pressure from the Water Authority itself, the city of San Diego and even the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to stay together. The Water Authority’s main argument has been that if the detachers secede, the other 22-member water districts would have to pick up their share of growing water costs.
The eight-member LAFCO commission has to decide on June 5 whether to let the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District leave, which could set a precedent for other water districts looking for a way out of the Water Authority’s rising prices.
County Faces Another Huge Vacancy
Nick Macchione, the top public health official in the San Diego County government, is moving on for an executive role at UC San Diego Health.
San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency is the key department for homeless issues at the county, handling services related to housing and community development, mental health and addiction, and public health. Macchione has led the department for 15 years.
Now, the county is looking for a new chief bureaucrat to run the government, as longtime Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer retires, and to fill Macchione’s role, maybe the most influential official that reports to Robbins-Meyer. The county is also preparing for a special election to select a fifth county supervisor, after Nathan Fletcher’s resignation this month.
Blakespear’s Facebook Fight Isn’t Over
State Sen. Catherine Blakespear, formerly the mayor of Encinitas, has opened a legal fund to raise money for her ongoing litigation against a group of Facebook users, Cal Matters reported.
Last year, North County reporter Tigist Layne wrote about a group of Facebook users that accused then-Mayor Blakespear of censoring them on her official campaign Facebook page. The group claimed Blakespear was blocking them or deleting their comments if they criticized her in any way.
They eventually reached a settlement agreement with Blakespear that required her to pay the group $5,000 in attorney fees, unblock all of the users on Facebook and issue a public apology.
But according to the residents, Blakespear didn’t comply with the terms of the agreement. And now, they’re suing her, again.
In January, two months after being elected to the Senate, Blakespear opened the legal defense fund and has raised $17,500 from interest groups so far. She’s also receiving legal assistance from the California Democratic Party, according to campaign finance records.
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In Other News
- The board chair for Illumina, one of the largest private employers in the county, was ousted this week, in a victory for activist investor Carl Icahn. (Endpoint News)
- Beach communities are a little riled-up over the number of coyote sightings of late. Pupping season is in full effect, which is probably why coyotes are being spotted in broad daylight searching for food. (CBS 8)
- San Diego County has decided to spend the $100 million it’s receiving as a settlement from opioid manufacturers to install naloxone vending machines while expanding addiction treatment offerings. (Union-Tribune)
- All that rain and snow this winter means more hydropower production during peak energy demand this summer, reducing the risk for rotating power outages of years past. (Union-Tribune)
- The state identified high levels of lead in drinking water at 139 San Diego County child care centers. (KPBS)
The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Tigist Layne and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.