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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Tony Young won’t just give his vote to anybody, water woes out east, ballots in Chinese, and where the llamas roam in East County.
Head into central Chula Vista and you’ll find Scripps Mercy Hospital over on H Street by the shopping mall. You might find something else while you’re there: a man who went there for emergency care in 2006. Scripps is still taking care of him, something that’s cost the hospital $1.8 million.
As our Scott Lewis explains, hospitals across the nation have to take care of emergency patients whether the patients have insurance or not. This means that those who can pay — through government coverage, private insurance or on their own — subsidize those who can’t. Like, for instance, the $1.8 million man.
“For those of you worried about the prospect of this country guaranteeing health care to everyone, and how much that would cost, I hate to break it to you, but we already do guarantee it,” Lewis writes.
He goes to explain how things are supposed to change under President Obama’s health care reform.
“[T]he federal government will stop paying hospitals as much as it does now for the Medicare and Medicaid patients hospitals treat. Hospitals are OK with that because they’re banking on the fact that, if more people are insured, they’ll make up the difference,” Lewis writes.
“At the same time, as more individuals buy insurance outside of their employers, they’ll be able to shop easier than even a small organization like mine can.”
We also have a video explainer on the issue.
Councilman Young Playing Coy on His Vote
Councilman Tony Young is a Democrat and represents a district that leans heavy to the Democratic side. It’s even part of mayoral candidate Rep. Bob Filner’s congressional district. And Young hasn’t exactly been an ally of his Republican colleague Carl DeMaio.
But Young tells us he’s not an automatic Filner supporter. He wants to see what each candidate plans to do for his southeastern San Diego district. “I’m not going to give my endorsement cheaply. And it’s definitely not going to be a partisan one.”
Why San Diego’s Not in Bankruptcy
It wasn’t too long ago that candidates for mayor debated whether or not San Diego should try to fix its problems in bankruptcy.
Now, cities across California and the country are having those same conversations, and many are choosing to go for it.
U-T San Diego this weekend explored how the city of San Diego avoided going down the path that now awaits bankruptcy-bound Stockton and San Bernardino.
Its hypothesis: The pension and other financial problems hit San Diego sooner, giving it time to make reforms. Then again, the paper notes, those other cities struggle under weaker economies in general.
The LA Times picks up on that trend, noting that those two cities — along with bankrupt Vallejo — are “blue-collar cities with aging infrastructure, they have relatively poor populations. And they’re saddled with ballooning pension and healthcare obligations for civic employees and retirees.”
Meanwhile, San Bernardino County — not the city — is exploring a very unusual way to handle its foreclosure crisis: it may use “eminent domain to buy up mortgages for homes that are underwater,” the NY Times reports. The idea: you seize the land for the public good and reset the mortgage payments to more affordable levels.
Where the Big River Goes Dry
Once of the the world’s great river deltas, the Colorado River is going dry.
“Just beyond the line of sight for most San Diegans, the Colorado’s premature demise serves as a warning of what many say is among the world’s most pressing problems,” U-T San Diego reports in the first in a special series on water.
“The Southwest has passed a tipping point with regard to its most precious natural resource; water is being withdrawn from key sources such as the Colorado faster than it’s being replenished as drought strengthens its grip across the country.”
Decision Time for Shamu
SeaWorld will find out by today whether a commission of OSHA — the federal workplace safety agency — will review a ruling that would lead to major changes in killer whale shows. The earlier ruling, set to become final today unless the commission steps in, says trainers can’t interact with killer whales in the water during shows unless they’re protected from harm, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
At issue: Whether the Shamu shows will be able to again offer those amazing stunts and tricks that take place between human and sea creature with both in the water — killer whales allowing trainers to ride them, for instance, or killer whales shooting trainers into the air from their noses.
Check my new Q&A with journalist David Kirby, author of the new book “Death at SeaWorld,” for details about the roiling controversy over the safety of SeaWorld’s human trainers and the ethnics of holding extremely intelligent killer whales in captivity.
Quick News Hits
• An investigative report by several news organizations — including San Diego’s KPBS and Investigative Newsource — finds that “civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents are increasing even though illegal immigration and assaults against agents are down.”
• Escondido has been working with the feds to find and deport illegal immigrants. Who are these people? The NC Times asked, but the feds won’t tell.
• The county is printing ballot materials in Chinese for the first time, the NC Times reports. As of 2010, the county was home to an estimated 52,740 Chinese people, up 22 percent from 2007.
Chinese people have been part of the city of San Diego for well over a century, as my interview with Murray K. Lee, curator of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, revealed. In the early days back in the 19th century, they created a Chinatown neighborhood in downtown — you can find remnants of it today — where life could be quite rough, largely because of discrimination and prejudice.
KPBS has a story about Wooster, Deli, Marlow, Sterling, Stormy, Webster, Bobbi, Nikki, Lewis and Freckles. A bunch of kindergartners? Naw. You can tell because there’s no Cayden, Khloe or Marlee.
These are actually llamas, most of them of rescues, who live with an El Cajon couple.
That’s good news for the llamas. Even better news: I don’t get out to East County much, so there’s little chance of me showing up to tell a bunch of “Your Llama’s So Fat” jokes.