Morning Report: New Utility Might Be Stuck Buying Costly Natural Gas - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: New Utility Might Be Stuck Buying Costly Natural Gas

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When San Diego pitched creating its own power utility separate from SDG&E, the promise was two-fold: The government-run utility would deliver power that was cleaner, and also cheaper than what the investor-own SDG&E was willing to give customers.

But VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer has uncovered a hitch in that plan: “San Diego Community Power, the new utility, wants to provide, at minimum, 50 percent renewable energy to its customers beginning March 2021. But a state law essentially requires it to invest in a pricey piece of natural gas-based energy from the get-go under a knotty set of regulations set up to ensure the grid has more power than it needs on a hot summer day.”

Other government-run power utilities in California have encountered the same issue and some that didn’t make the expensive investments quickly enough were hit with massive fines.

Meanwhile, even private utilities are having trouble meeting the mandate, but some of them, including SDG&E, had their big fines waived by the state.

(Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president of state governmental affairs and external affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

Contractors Are Far More Likely to Receive Public Records From San Diego Unified

If you’re a journalist seeking simple staffing numbers from San Diego Unified, or documents related to a specific incident at a specific high school, you can expect to wait months or even years for the district to provide those public records.

This month, for example, the district finally fulfilled a records request related to its email deletion policy that we filed in … 2017.

But there’s one group for whom obtaining public records from San Diego Unified seems to be much easier: contractors. 

“An online portal where San Diego Unified began posting records request documents shows 93 of the last 100 responses contain simple contractor information, like license numbers, subcontractor lists, inspector logs and construction bids,” Ashly McGlone reports. Just seven out of the 100 are responses to more general requests from journalists and other members of the public.

A spokeswoman for San Diego Unified said the district complies with the Public Records Act and that some requests are filled more quickly than others because they require an in-depth legal review.

Voice of San Diego’s lawsuit against the district over its years-long delays in producing public records is ongoing.

What That Central Park Video Has to Do With San Diego

Video of a white woman in New York City’s Central Park who called the police and lied that a black man was threatening her (the man, in reality, had asked her to comply with the rules and leash her dog) swept the internet over the last few days.

What does that have to do with San Diego?

Well, a little more than you might think.

In 2015, San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber passed a law meant to guard against racial profiling that requires police to keep track of who they stop. It also created a Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board.

The Central Park video is certainly not the first time a white person has called police on a person of color to report a threat that was never there — it’s happened to black men who were in line at Starbucks, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, sitting in a hotel lobby, the list goes on. It’s prevalent enough that it has a name: bias by proxy. 

The latest Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board report, published in January, urges law enforcement agencies to conduct trainings on bias by proxy: “Officers should draw upon their training and use their critical decision-making skills to assess whether there is criminal conduct and to be aware of implicit bias and bias by proxy when carrying out their duties,” the report says.

Andrea Guerrero, a member of the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board and executive director of Alliance San Diego, told me in January that the group hopes to do more to combat these incidents.

“There is some literature, there’s some thinking about it from experts and advocates and law enforcement agencies have started to delve into this. So we share out that information about what agencies are doing and what advocates are recommending, and we call for more further exploration and provide at least some initial guidance,” she said.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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