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Morning Report: Big Day for Big Water Projects

Activist describes misconduct by ex-Mayor Filner, radio station under fire may dump format, local mayor declares his city government speaks English, e-bikes may spawn more controversy, pot-friendly rapper talks shop and more

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California headquarters. / Photo by Pete Morris via Flickr

Today is a big day for billions of dollars in water projects.

In San Diego, the City Council is expected to advance a $1.4 billion project to recycle sewage into drinkable water. Eventually, recycled water will be a third of the city’s water supply.

In Los Angeles, the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will vote to build one or two tunnels to continue bringing water south from rivers in Northern California. In what is expected to be a close vote, the agency could spend $11 billion to build two 35-mile-long underground tunnels.

I preview both decisions in the latest Environment Report.

Questions about how much ratepayers will be on the hook for each project is up in the air.

For the San Diego recycling project, known as Pure Water, city officials are hoping to get hundreds of millions in grant funding from the state. But, so far, the commission tasked with handing out the money has taken a dim view of Pure Water.

For the tunnels, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday urged the Metropolitan board to approve funding for two tunnels, a project that many are calling part of his legacy. Last fall, Metropolitan voted to spend $4 billion for its share of the $17 billion project. But other water agencies backed out, leaving the whole project up in the air. Now, Metropolitan is deciding between spending $5 billion to build just one tunnel or $11 billion to do both, largely on its own.

Representatives from the San Diego County Water Authority, who have been dubious about the project after initially supporting similar efforts over the years, said Metropolitan is preparing to vote based on “highly superficial information.” San Diego is one of Metropolitan’s largest customers. Metropolitan imports water into Southern California and resells it to other agencies, like the San Diego County Water Authority. The Water Authority, in turn, resells water to local agencies, like the city water department.

Metropolitan expects to get some of its money back in coming years if other water agencies buy into the project as water becomes scarcer across the West.

Ry Rivard

Democratic Activist Alleges Filner Misconduct

Inspired by a dinner meeting of local Democrats over the weekend, local activist Sara Kent is opening up for the first time about what she says was misconduct by disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner. She also describes her own sense of helplessness, shame and humiliation. “One of the most powerful men in San Diego at the time,” she writes in a personal blog post, “sexualized me and tried to make me think my compliance would make or break policy issues.”

She writes that she last saw Filner at a fundraiser: “He quickly trapped me beside him in the crowded bar by wrapping his arm around me, aggressively yanking my body next to his, and said to someone near us: ‘She’s a liar. She’s a pretty little liar, but she’s a liar.’ I awkwardly laughed, maneuvered away without saying anything, and found my friends.”

Kent was among 30 women who signed this letter urging the local Democratic Party to do more to protect its members from harassment and abuse.

VOSD Potcast: Rapper’s Delight

This week’s VOSD Potcast, devoted to all things marijuana, features an interview with the rapper and pot partaker known as MC Flow. She talks about how marijuana boosts her creativity and tells us about shooting a video at a marijuana shop and the challenges of toking while the mother of a kid. Also on the Potcast: An update on the latest news in the local marijuana world, an interview with a visitor to San Diego’s potlandia, and more.

Marijuana Business Daily reports that California regulators, as of April 4, had sent 393 cease-and-desist letters to illegal pot outlets in the greater Los Angeles area. Voice took a similar look at those letters last month and found that, as of March 21, regulators had sent 377 to San Diego-area outlets believed to be operating without a license. Although there may be some overlap, because a single delivery company might deliver to both markets, the numbers give a sense of how large the black market remains. Nevertheless, a spokesman for the state said the letters are having an impact: “It’s slow going, but so far, we’re relatively encouraged by the number of people who received the letter and said, ‘OK, I’m going to get my application in.’”

Report: ‘The Machine’ Breaks Down at 97.3 FM

The company that owns the new radio station known as “97.3 The Machine” is apparently dumping its shock-jock talk format, and its shock jocks, reports RadioInsight, after an incoming host’s “joke” about Coronado bridge suicides sparked widespread criticism. The station airs Padres games, and the team was blunt about its disgust with the host’s antics.

Candidate Gets Support After Big Donation

“An influential political committee launched a campaign blitz for Encinitas congressional candidate Sara Jacobs after her grandfather gave it one of the largest contributions it has received this election cycle,” the U-T reports. The grandfather is billionaire Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs; his granddaughter is running for the seat held by the retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. (Disclosure: Irwin Jacobs is a major VOSD supporter.)

The donation of $250,000 was an especially large one for the PAC, which is linked to the EMILY’S List organization. But, as the story notes, “the organization only backs Democratic women who support abortion rights, and Jacobs is the only candidate of the 16 who are running for Issa’s seat who meets each of those three requirements.”

Jim Desmond, mayor of the North County city of San Marcos, told fellow Republicans that the city government language is English with none of that “press 2 for Spanish” stuff. Perhaps not coincidentally, he’s also running for county supervisor. (Times of S.D.)

‘Fearless Saint of S.D.’s Homeless’ Dies

We’ve lost one of the good ones and one of the best ones. David “Water Man” Ross — “San Diego’s version of Mother Teresa,” according to an accolade in the U-T — died Monday. He was in his early 80s.

The retired car salesman devoted his later life to helping the local homeless, bringing them food and water and advocating for them in areas like sanitation and access to storage. Ross, “subsisting on Social Security and nearly as poor as the homeless, has waded into San Diego’s sea of misery every day for nearly two decades to help ‘his people,'” the U-T reported in 2017.

Ross had suffered from “multiple saint-related injuries” while trying to help others, including a tooth-loosening punch in the mouth, a bullet wound in the leg and a stab wound in the chest.

Even last year’s deadly hepatitis A outbreak didn’t stop him from reaching out. “I touch everybody,” he told the U-T. “They need the hugs. They need to know I care about them.”

The city is working to better link the homeless to jobs. (Times of S.D.)

The hepatitis A outbreak isn’t over, and neither is flu season. (KPBS)

Opinion: Employers, Brace for Immigration Crackdown

In a VOSD commentary, general contractor and architecture firm owner Francisco Garcia writes that targeting by immigration officials of his industry is likely to get worse.

“Under the guise of public safety, San Diego County is not-so-quietly turning into a community that instills fear in those who make up a key backbone to our business economy, our immigrant population,” he writes. “Our county leads the U.S. in the number of non-criminals being arrested by ICE.”

Garcia adds: “If push comes to shove, we may have to get involved in the personal lives of our employees more than we prefer to ensure their civil rights aren’t being violated, and know what kind of potential legal support they can access … My advice to all business owners in San Diego is simple: Brace yourself.”

The U-T checks in with the San Diego Rapid Response Network, which an advocate says acts as a kind of “immigration 911” with a 24-hour hotline to help immigrants who are targeted by federal immigration enforcement.

Quick News Hits: Parking Wars, Part II

Body cameras are coming to the La Mesa police department. (U-T)

The $25 million Trump University settlement is final. The case was a big one here. (Axios)

A friend of Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave him advice about a variety of potential administration hires, including U.S. attorneys and ambassadors, including Doug Manchester, the hotel magnate and former U-T publisher, who’s now up for a job as ambassador to the Bahamas.

So what’s the problem? As ProPublica reports, the friend is an ex-con, “convicted in 2009 for his role in a major New York state public corruption and bribery case.” Manchester, meanwhile, has problems of his own.

Regular unleaded gas prices have gone up an average of 43 cents a gallon so far this year in San Diego. (Times of S.D.)

The U-T profiles how San Diego universities and the local cybersecurity industry are working to keep graduates in town and employed by companies here instead of skedaddling to Silicon Valley.

The Menendez brothers, the parent killers who were responsible for one of the highest-profile murder cases of the 1990s, have finally been reunited in prison — San Diego’s Donovan state prison. They’re now serving their life sentences in the same unit. A spokesperson says they’ll be “able to interact with one another as they pursue rehabilitation opportunities.” (Washington Post)

• You think San Diegans are obsessed by (craft) beer now? It’s always been thus. Back in 1933, the front page of the Evening Tribune on April 7 feature not one, not two but four stories about the new post-Prohibition era of legal beer in many states. As the U-T notes in its look-back, “reversing the former order of things, beer flowed freely in San Diego while the bars in Tijuana were almost deserted.”

Bad local parking lots seem to be the theme of the week: A discussion of the worst-of-the-worst has broken out in the San Diego section of Reddit. One commenter makes this intriguing and absolutely accurate observation: “Any parking lot in San Diego that has a Trader Joe’s in it seems to always be a complete mess.” Maybe there’s a never-ending run on cookie butter? (Gangway! Let me through!)

Another commenter wins the thread with this suggestion about the most awful parking lot of them all: “the 805.” That’s so funny I forgot to crawl 50 yards ahead at the I-5 split in the last 45 minutes!

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 (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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