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Roundtable: Power Games, 4th District, Hospice Autopsy, Tourist Taxes

Roundtable: Power Games, 4th District, Hospice Autopsy, Tourist Taxes
GUESTSAlison St. John, KPBS News Liam Dillon, Voice of San Diego Joanne Faryon, KPBS News Katie Orr, KPBS News

San Diego Power Games: There are many players (and acronyms) filling various roles in getting energy to San Diego this summer.

The California Public Utilities Commission had two meetings here this week. The first, in closed-session with ‘stakeholders” only, was met with protests by the uninvited.


The commission then held an open hearing Thursday on new power plants proposed for San Diego County near Santee and Otay Mesa. The CPUC denied approval of these “peaker plants” for the time being, saying they were not needed.

Also, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is weighing whether any or all reactors at San Onofre can be safely restarted. The CPUC is investigating whether the fees Southern California Edison is off-loading to ratepayers for the shuttered San Onofre plant are reasonable. So far, they have reached $1 billion.

And the California Independent System Operator, responsible for keeping the lights on and our ACs humming statewide, says there’s enough electricity for everyone this summer, no matter what.

Who's On First In The Fourth?: District 4 has been without representation on the San Diego City Council since Tony Young left in January to run the regional chapter of the San Diego Red Cross. And the council itself has been evenly divided at four Democrats and four Republicans.

Of the nine -- yes, 9 -- candidates for Young’s seat, three have raised substantial campaign support from the community: Dwayne Crenshaw, Barry Pollard, and Myrtle Cole. Another, Blanca Lopez-Brown, has received the endorsement of San Diego CityBeat. And still another, Bruce Williams, has a nearly 30-year history of working for the city, including for Young’s office.


The remaining candidates are Monica Montgomery, Sandy Spackman and Tony Villafranca.

The election is Tuesday. If no candidate gets 50% of the vote plus one, there will be a runoff, which most observers believe is likely.

San Diego Hospice Dies An Unnatural Death: It was one of the first hospices in the nation and a respected San Diego institution for decades. San Diego Hospice closed its doors in February, as a result of an audit by Medicare.

The audit found that the hospice had been caring for patients – and billing Medicare – for much longer periods than the six months Medicare provides for. Sometimes the hospice cared for patients for several years.

In addition, KPBS reporters discovered that the hospice almost lost its Medicare contract last year due to poor patient care, including medicine dosage errors and patient neglect.

The closure led to a bizarre situation in which an Alzheimer’s patient had received treatment from San Diego Hospice for six years, only to be discharged as she was nearing death because she was "no longer terminally ill."

Tourist Taxes and Seal Abuse: The on-going saga of the Tourism Marketing District's attempt to access funds from room taxes levied by hoteliers began when Mayor Bob Filner declined to release administrative funds to the district, as per an agreement approved by the city council. The agreement had not been signed by the previous mayor, Jerry Sanders.

Filner declined to sign the agreement because he wanted a better deal for the city, and the TMD sued for the funds. A Superior Court judge tentatively ruled this week that the mayor could not be forced to sign the agreement and release the funds.

In an unrelated -- but also contentious -- issue, the mayor ordered that the Children’s Pool in La Jolla be closed from sunset to sunrise until mid-May. The recent installation of the “seal-cam” there captured people seeming to abuse the seals which have taken over the pool. Conspiracy theories, of course, abound. And legal actions, of course, are planned.