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Morning Report: Bonnie Dumanis Fields Our Biggest Questions

Former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is a candidate for county supervisor. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

For years, we have kept a short list of questions for Bonnie Dumanis, the former district attorney now running for county supervisor. Mostly they were about what she knew and didn’t know about Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, the man who was convicted of crimes related to his effort to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into political campaigns in San Diego.

This week, Dumanis sat down with us and took all of our questions, not only about Azano but also about her plans for the county and why she wanted to step down as DA to run for what seems like a seat of vastly less power and excitement. We put the interview into a special episode of the podcast.

Here’s a sample of the exchange on the Azano scandal:

Andrew Keatts: So what do you think he wanted? When you talked to him, what do you think he wanted? What did you talk about?

Bonnie Dumanis: We didn’t talk very much. And I’m not going to re-litigate that case.

She also discussed her decision to tap Summer Stephan as her preferred successor, her approach to prosecuting police shootings, her reaction to the U-T criticizing her grasp of the issues and more.

Dumanis revealed that one factor in her decision-making was her diagnosis more than two years ago of breast cancer.

“I decided that I wanted to do something other than what I was doing because I had seen so many victims come in who had lost a child, lost a family member and looked into their eyes and they would never be the same,” she said. “It became clear to me that I had hit the point that I needed to do what I wanted to do outside of the DA’s office.”

County Finds ‘Success’ and ‘Areas for Improvement’ in Its Hep A Response

From VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt: The county wasn’t too hard on itself in its report on how officials responded to the hepatitis A outbreak that left 20 dead and sickened more than 580 people.

“One can look at the response and identify areas of success as well as areas for improvement,” the report says.

Voice of San Diego reported on Aug. 30 that bureaucratic fumbling and foot-dragging stymied the county’s initial response even as the number of deaths and cases surged.

One of two hand-washing stations at San Diego County’s Rosecrans Health Services Complex in the Midway district. / Photo by Lisa Halverstadt

The county report, completed after a request from County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, concluded that the county must better coordinate and communicate with its own staff and other agencies during future outbreaks, and better clarify the roles of local governments and other stakeholders. The report suggests a series of actions for county officials to take over the next year, including developing training and protocols.

The review commended health officials for quickly detecting the outbreak last March, coordinating with federal health officials and sending nurses out to vaccinate homeless San Diegans.

What the report didn’t scrutinize was why the county waited until Sept. 1 to declare a public health emergency, a step that amplified the regional response to the outbreak. By that point, almost 400 people had gotten sick and 15 had died.

Three-quarters of the nearly 122,000 hepatitis A vaccinations eventually given came after county supervisors ratified that declaration.

Another review of the regional response to hepatitis A may be coming. Assemblyman Todd Gloria last month requested a state audit of both city and county efforts to combat the deadly outbreak to “determine if the public health of all Californians was sufficiently protected.”

Fact Check: Government Power Agency Does Cost Taxpayers Something

Solana Beach became the first city in San Diego County to form its own agency – known as a community choice aggregator, or CCA – to buy and sell electricity in March.

It’s one of several city-run utilities popping up throughout the state.

Other cities, like San Diego, are also thinking about forming their own power agency, but face powerful opposition from San Diego Gas & Electric’s parent company, Sempra Energy, and both CCA supporters and opponents are watching Solana Beach closely.

Solana Beach officials have promised this new city agency does not use taxpayer dollars. The potential risks to taxpayers has been a common argument cited by CCA opponents.

VOSD’s Ry Rivard decided to fact-check the Solana Beach power agency’s claim and determined it’s a stretch.

The city has already put time and money into starting the agency, Rivard finds. The city does expect to get the money back, though, once customers start paying their power bills. The agency, Solana Energy Alliance, will start selling power on June 1.

What’s the deal with CCAs again?

San Diego Explained: What Happens to Our License Plate Info?

Local law enforcement has started using license plate readers, which scan license plates on roads and freeways entering the information into a database, to help locate stolen cars or find criminal suspects.

But some advocacy groups have raised concerns over how the agencies are using this information – and who else can see it. It turns out the license plate data collected by the San Diego Police Department is shared with hundreds of agencies around the country, including Border Patrol.

In this week’s San Diego Explained, VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and NBC 7’s Monica Dean unravel some of the controversies around the information gathered by license plate readers and how that information-sharing can impact us all.

Good Schools for All: Finding Community at Lincoln High

Lincoln High has a long list of problems, but in this week’s Good Schools for All education podcast, we talk to Karly Van Holten, a senior at Lincoln High, about why she wanted to go to her neighborhood school, even with other school options on the table, and how the experience helped her excel.

“Lincoln was the right choice for me because it was in my community, and it was accessible,” Van Holten told podcast hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn. “It was something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Seeing Red (and Neon Blue)

San Diegans are flocking to local beaches after dark to catch a glimpse of the glowing waves.

A photo of the red tide in San Diego / Photo by Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego

The phenomenon is called red tide or bioluminescence, and it’s caused by dinoflagellates, organisms that light up when startled or stimulated. At night, the breaking waves agitate the little guys, making them glow bright blue. The reason it’s called the red tide, by the way, is because the little critters turn the water a soupy red color during the day.

Some fantastic photos of the bright blue waves are rolling in.

Kinsee Morlan chimes in: I took my family to a completely packed La Jolla Shores last night to see the spectacle, but realized we were there too early (scientists say two hours after sunset is the best time to go). My kids can’t stay up that late, so I asked Peter Franks, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, to help me out.

Franks said folks who want to see the glowing water without going out late should go to the beach around noon, when the organisms are most likely to be near the surface of the water, and fill an empty water bottle with the red-tinged water. Then go home, wait until the sun goes down and lock yourself in a dark room. Then, Franks said, the fun begins:

“Give your bottle a shake. You should see some blue sparkles of light. Try putting your electric toothbrush in — you’ll get an even better light show. Spill some on the countertop, and let the spill absorb into a paper towel — you’ll get a great light show around the edge of the paper. But the best one — and save this for last, because it’s fatal — is to add a little vinegar to the bottle. You’ll get an amazing (and terminal) light show! The chemicals that cause the light flashes are stored in little bags in the cells called ‘vesicles.’ The lowered pH caused by the vinegar causes the bags to burst, and all the chemicals mix, creating a spectacular flash of light.”

 In Other News

  • Christian Ramirez, Vivian Moreno, Antonio Martinez and Zackary Lazurus want to replace termed-out Councilman David Alvarez. KPBS looked at how much money each candidate has raised and talked to them about their plans for District 8, which includes Barrio Logan, San Ysidro and other neighborhoods. Two of the candidates, Ramirez and Martinez, talked about their campaigns on the VOSD podcast.
  • Safety inspections and follow-up inspections have revealed problems – including a fire that started on a patient’s abdomen during surgery – at Palomar Medical Center Escondido. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Maya Srikrishnan and Kinsee Morlan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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