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Roundtable: San Diego Union-Tribune Sold, Skyrocketing Water Bills, Public Money For SDSU Expansion

Roundtable: The San Diego Union-Tribune Sold, Skyrocketing Water Bills, Public Money For SDSU Expansion


Erik Anderson, reporter, KPBS News

Claire Trageser, reporter, KPBS News

Tony Perry, former San Diego bureau chief, LA Times

Laura Wingard, managing editor, inewsource

New Ownership For The San Diego Union-Tribune And Los Angeles Times

The Story

A surprise announcement was made this week that Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Southern California billionaire who made his fortune in biotechnology, has reached an agreement with the parent company of the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to buy the two newspapers. The nearly $500 million deal would return the two publications to local ownership after years of upheaval and staff reductions.

The Discussion

Who is Patrick Soon-Shiong and how will he lead the two newspapers?

How will the new ownership deal with structural challenges for the newspaper industry, including the sharp drop in advertising revenue?

How does this move follow a recent trend of billionaires taking over news organizations, such as Jeff Bezos at the Washington Post?

RELATED: San Diego Union-Tribune, LA Times Will Soon Have A New Owner

Skyrocketing Water Bills

The Story

Homeowners in San Diego are getting unpleasant surprises in the mail in the form of sudden spikes to their water bill. Some customers are being told to pay thousands of dollars or face the possibility of having their service shut off. Customers hit with the high bills believe the installation of a smart water meter system may be to blame. This week, San Diego City Councilwoman Barbara Bry requested a change in policy that will allow customers to avoid payment of any disputed bills while the issue is being investigated.

The Discussion

How is the city going about updating its water meter infrastructure?

What are some of the worst cases of customers receiving high bills?

What is the Public Utilities Department saying about the reasons behind the high bills?

RELATED: Utilities Department Announces Over 300 Water Customers Were Overcharged

Public Funding For SDSU West Project

The Story

Voters in San Diego will likely be asked in November whether to approve an initiative to allow San Diego State University to purchase land in Mission Valley that would allow for a major expansion, including the building of a new sports stadium. Part of the pitch is that the project would not involve any taxpayer dollars. However, the proposed initiative does not explicitly prohibit the use of other public funds to help pay for the $3 billion project. Organizers of the SDSU West initiative recently submitted public signatures. Approval from the Registrar of Voters is expected soon.

The Discussion

How might the SDSU West project be allowed to use money from the city’s general fund?

What is the distinction between taxpayer money and public money?

How will the SDSU West initiative compete with the SoccerCity initiative in November?

RELATED: San Diego State Might Tap Taxpayer Funds To Expand Into Mission Valley

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