Morning Report: Franchise Deal Comes With Watchdog Work

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Morning Report: Franchise Deal Comes With Watchdog Work

San Diego City Hall / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

The city of San Diego agreed last week to give SDG&E a 20-year extension over the local energy grid.

Some had wanted a shorter deal. But the city, in the process, said it would ensure that investors pay certain money to the city instead of ratepayers. The city will also assign staff to make sure the terms are being met and require SDG&E to appear before the public to explain rate increases.

SDG&E customers pay the highest rates of all the investor-owned utilities in California.

In the process, the city is signing up for a lot of watchdog work, MacKenzie Elmer writes.

For help, the city is looking to create a committee composed of political appointees who will work with an independent auditor. But at least one environmentalist argued the committee doesn’t go far enough.

Three City Council members also expressed interest in a new “energy independence fund” that can study the cost of taking over the energy grid and running it publicly. 

The Explosion of Untraceable Guns

A federal judge in San Diego thrust himself into the national spotlight for ruling that California’s assault weapons ban is unconstitutional. Last week, the governor and attorney general announced they would be appealing the decision and seeking an order to stop the decision from going into effect. 

Much of the fury directed at the judge was based on wild claims he’d made in his ruling and his comparison of AR-15s to Swiss Army knives, Sara Libby reports. 

But as Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts write in the Politics Report, you can only ban firearms if you know they exist. A lot of websites and stores offer kits so that people can bypass a background check and build their own. 

When Jesse Marx visited the Del Mar gun show in 2019, he noticed a bunch of booths selling the necessary parts and instructions. One vendor boasted that you could make your own AR-15 for less than $500, and another vendor was offering gold-colored handguards with “Trump” cut into the side. 

So far this year, San Diego police say they’re on pace to seize more “ghost guns” than the past three years combined. A man who used a ghost gun to shoot and kill a downtown valet in April was legally prohibited from owning a firearm. 

Union Says It Had No Choice but to Defend Professor

The California Faculty Association is defending its decision to stand behind a Cal State San Marcos professor after the university determined that he’d sexually harassed his former teacher’s aide and three other students and moved to fire him.

In a letter obtained by Kayla Jimenez, the union said it had a duty to defend one of its educators on principle and could have faced sanctions if it had decided instead to abandon him.

The university also argued that it was forced to sign a settlement with the professor because its hands were tied and he might not have been disciplined at all if they’d pursued the matter through the arbitration system. The professor was put on paid leave, then an unpaid suspension, and reassigned following pressure from other faculty and students. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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