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Morning Report: Politics Line Up for City Electricity Grab

Community choice aggregation supporters rally in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Since it passed a plan to halve greenhouse gas emissions and move to 100 percent renewable energy sources, the city of San Diego has been slowly but dutifully moving forward on a proposal to form a new government agency that would buy electricity for city residents.

The decision to create the government power agency – known as a community choice aggregator, or CCA – would break SDG&E’s long-held local power monopoly. For those reasons, it’s always seemed like a heavy political lift, even if the mayor and City Council kept taking steps towards making it a reality.

It’s starting to seem more likely that it could really happen, and the mayor’s office says that decision could come in 2018, as Ry Rivard reports.

The mayor earlier this month instructed the city to create a business plan for how the agency would really operate, and to spell out how it would get to 100 percent renewable energy and at what cost. At the same time, he instructed SDG&E to put forward its plan for how it could reach the city’s renewable energy target.

As that happens, there are now four council members who’ve already said they support the move, and at least three more who are open to it. The final call only needs five votes.

Pulling those five votes together could come down not only to how the city’s business plan turns out, or whether SDG&E can put up a viable alternative. The votes could also turn on which plan can offer more and better jobs for the local electrical workers unions – many of whom now work for SDG&E. Or, the issue could come down to whether it becomes a major factor in any of the City Council races in next year’s election.

Here’s our definitive FAQ on what community choice aggregation is.

Hard Times for Celebrated Local Arts Nonprofit

In 2013, “Inocente” a documentary about a local homeless teenager who benefited from the National City-based arts nonprofit A Reason to Survive, or ARTS, won an Oscar. The organization basked in national attention.

Four years later, ARTS has had to shut down nearly all of its programs after it encountered financial problems once its founder and CEO left. His replacement recommended shutting it all down.

But the founder is back in a part-time capacity to help it recover.

In this week’s Culture Report, Kinsee Morlan breaks down that, and the return to town of John Mireles, a local artist who earlier this year announced he was heading to New York because San Diego didn’t have enough opportunities for ambitious artists to grow.

Now, he’s opening a pop-up gallery in Logan Heights.

“I’m not going to lie, I missed San Diego,” he said.

Opinion: City Attorney’s Chief of Staff Is Exempted from the Constraints of Politics

Earlier this month, Scott Lewis wrote about how communications from City Attorney Mara Elliott’s chief of staff Gerry Braun to other city staffers weren’t subject to public records laws due to attorney-client privilege, even though Braun isn’t a lawyer.

In a new op-ed, political consultant Steven Moore – who was himself a chief of staff in the House of Representatives for seven years – says that interpretation has weaponized attorney-client privilege and now exempts Braun from what little bit of comity remains in the world of politics.

“Braun can be as threatening, as bullying, as sexist or as profane as he would like to be, and his victims have no recourse,” Moore writes. “If they release the communications, they could be prosecuted.”

In Other News

San Diego home prices from August to September increased among the fastest in the nation. Los Angeles increased faster and San Diego’s prices increased slightly more than San Francisco’s. Yea, California has home affordability problems. (City News Service)

The U-T reports that a sheriff’s deputy has been accused of inappropriately groping several women.

Sara Jacobs announced this month she was running for Congress, joining a group of other Democrats looking to unseat Rep. Darrell Issa in what’s considered one of the most vulnerable districts in the country.

The Union-Tribune’s Josh Stewart reported that Jacobs, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, got that job with the help of a major fundraiser. An email from the fundraiser to Clinton’s campaign director was in the trove of emails that were released by Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election. (U-T)

Customs and Border Patrol officials installed a video surveillance system at the site of the eight border wall prototypes in San Ysidro, Greg Moran reports. The cost has been redacted from government documents describing the installation, which occurred without competitive bidding. (U-T)

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