Morning Report: San Diego Is Over Saving Water
Statewide pension reform proposals will look familiar to San Diegans, a freeway underpass might get a lot cooler and documenting police shootings across California.
It’s been a few months since Gov. Jerry Brown imposed emergency water cuts on urban residents, and the folks who provide all that water are eager to get back to normal.
Ten local water agencies, including the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority, asked state regulators in a Sept. 19 letter to ease up on conservation demands if “more normal” rain and snowfall return, Ry Rivard reports.
“The state does not have the authority, nor do we think they have the reason, to mandate these permanent types of conservation requirements, it’s just not necessary,” said a County Water Authority board member, who promised a “firestorm” if the state tries to lock in current conservation measures.
That promise is a bit alarming, considering the No. 1 goal in Brown’s long-term water plan is to “Make conservation a California way of life.”
San Diego’s water officials have built their case on the efforts they’ve made to secure additional water sources, like an expensive desalination plant in Carlsbad.
The problem with that, according to one local group, is that the folks hit hardest by conservation requirements are the communities with the scarcest resources.
A state regulator emphasizes that no one knows when the drought will end, so conservation should be a priority no matter what local investments have been made, and environmentalist group Coastkeeper says they’ve had it with local water agencies, based on the letter they sent to the state.
Education Over Enforcement for Local Taggers
County officials spend an awful lot of money cleaning up graffiti: $16 million a year, according to a 2012 study. And the kids who get caught doing it can end up with a cost of their own, if it forces them into the region’s criminal justice system.
Linda Sheridan, CEO of the San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance, is pushing a program to cut down on both of those costs, reports Kinsee Morlan.
The San Diego Graffiti & Mural Arts Program would be a new juvenile probation diversion program that would provide kids busted for graffiti with a curriculum complete with art history instruction, museum tours and time spent with professional artists, all while keeping their records clean.
And if they complete the program, they’d be invited to work with muralists on an outdoor project. They’d put the new mural in an area where the city has to regularly clean up or paint over graffiti, cutting down on the need for that expense, since taggers tend not to tag cover up street art.
“It’s education over enforcement and to me, it’s a no-brainer,” Sheridan said.
She’s hoping to bring the idea to life while turning an area under a freeway overpass into an art park.
Back to Pension Reform
State voters could soon be asked to approve a pension-reform measure that’ll be familiar to San Diego residents.
One would give public employees hired starting in 2019 a 401(k)-style retirement plan, rather than pensions with payouts guaranteed by government agencies, much like the pension-reform measure passed by city voters in 2012. The other would cap how much public agencies could contribute to employees’ salaries based on a percent of their salary.
Back when city voters were getting ready to vote on San Diego’s pension reform initiative, our Liam Dillon covered why those efforts are only ever directed at new employees, not existing ones. It all stems from a 1917 legal ruling.
100 Officer-Involved Killings Per Year in California
As the media and concerned residents have increased their attention on officer-involved police shootings over the last year-plus, among the more surprising revelations has been the lack of clear, objective data on how often they happen and in which circumstances.
Now, the ACLU of Southern California has found 610 recorded instances of officers killing civilians during the course of an arrest over the last six years. Of those, 608 are officially classified as justified.
San Diego has seen less than one police killing per 100,000 residents during that time, the lowest rate of any county along with San Francisco.
Meanwhile, the company that provides officer-worn cameras to the San Diego Police Department has introduced new technology that’ll make it easier to redact private information from the videos. That’s an irrelevant for SDPD, however, since San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman recently said she’d only publicly release footage from those cameras to calm rioting residents.
Potential Buyouts at San Diego Union-Tribune
Employees of Tribune Publishing, the Chicago-based company that owns the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, issued a memo to employees Monday offering voluntary buyouts to non-union employees who’ve been with the company for more than a year, the Associated Press reports.
Employees have until Oct. 23 to take the voluntary payout to leave. It’s unclear if that would be followed by involuntary cost-saving measures at the publishing company.