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Roundtable: Poway Unified's Big Bond; Padres' Big Sale; San Onofre's Big Trouble

Andrew Keatts, The Daily Transcript
Roundtable: Mayoral Debate, Poway Bond, Padres sale, San Onofre Trouble
Guests: Katie Orr, KPBS News Will Carless, Voice of San DiegoAndrew Keatts, San Diego Daily TranscriptAdam Townsend, San Clemente Patch

Filner, DeMaio Go At it: During last night's mayoral debate at UC San Diego's Institute of the Americas, the candidates traded barbs and insults over border and immigration issues. If the campaign is so nasty in August, what will October be like?

The candidates talked about how long border-crossing times impact businesses and whether they would support a bi-national summer Olympics held in San Diego and Tijuana.

Filner emphasized what he’s done to improve the border region while he’s been in Congress, pointing out that he is co-chair of the Border Caucus in Congress and has secured money for state Route 905, which connects Otay Mesa and San Yisdro. He also spoke of the need to shorten wait times at the border.

But DeMaio noted that Filner had plenty of time to fix the problem of long border crossing times while he was in Congress and questioned whether he’d be able to resolve the problem as mayor.

Poway Unified's Big Bond: Voters gave Poway Unified School District permission in 2008 to borrow more money to complete a big modernization project, provided their taxes were not raised. And they weren’t. However, the taxes of their children and grandchildren surely will be.

The district used an instrument called a capital appreciation bond. For these bonds, there are no payments at all for 20 years. But interest piles up, and in 40 years, the district will repay nearly $1 billion on the $105 million loan.

Poway officials defend the program as both necessary and a success and said that even though ballot language didn't say so, voters should have been aware that borrowing money over a long time would be expensive.

Taxpayers associations have called the practice “insane” and said it is way worse than loansharking. Michigan has banned issuing these bonds, but in California, strapped districts are using them, including Oceanside Unified, Escondido Union and San Diego Unified.

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Will Carless, Voice of San Diego

The Padres Big Sale:The announced agreement for the San Diego Padres to a group led by Peter O’Malley is just step one in the process of transferring the team.

The sale and transfer of the team from John Moores, et. al, must be still approved by major league baseball. MLB did not approve Moores' last attempt to sell the team to a group led by former sports agent Jeff Moorad.

The new owners-in-waiting include baseball and sports royalty. Much about the sale is unclear as yet, including the actual purchase price (said to be $800 million), and whether the adjacent parking lots – which might be used to build a Chargers’ stadium - are included. Are there indications that Moores’ purchase of the Padres was a real estate deal from the start? And can paying nearly $1 billion for a baseball team in a mid-sized market be worth it?

San Onofre May Remain Dark: The California Public Utilities Commission is studying whether to allow Southern California Edison to recoup the full $680 million it cost to replace four steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear plant in 2009.

A state law allows the CPUC to suspend higher rates caused by plant upgrades if the upgrades stop working for nine months. The plant has been shut down because of extensive damage to the new generators. The nine month mark will be reached in October.

Southern California Edison, the plant's operator, has already indicated that they may have to replace the new generators in order to return San Onofre to full power, but the company has not yet determined exactly what repairs will have to be made.

The CPUC will also decide if ratepayers can recover the increases they have already paid for the upgrades. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said it will issue no new licenses for nuclear power plants until the issue of what to do with spent fuel is resolved.

In the meantime, summer is heating up.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.