Drop in the bucket

Apr 4, 2012

Water officials in arid San Diego, no fans of the LA-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, are considering building their own pipeline to the Imperial Valley to bypass the MWD. The project's price tag could reach $2 billion, but it's getting a serious look, given the escalating rancor between San Diego and the Met.


From Bradley J. Finkes in the North County Times: "At its March 14 meeting, the authority approved spending an extra $226,900 in its ongoing master plan update to examine the feasibility of building its own "conveyance facility" from existing aqueducts to the San Vicente Reservoir, southeast of Poway. The project wouldn't affect the authority's importing water through its existing pipelines to Metropolitan, which pass through North County."


"Consultant CH2M Hill, which is performing the master plan update, will study two routes of pipelines and tunnels from Imperial County, mapped in 2003. One connects with the All-American Canal, which hugs the U.S.-Mexico border from the Colorado River to the southern vicinity of El Centro. A more northerly route begins about 15 miles east of El Centro. That will require extensive tunneling through the rugged mountains in far eastern San Diego County."


Speaking of San Diego, the oddest election is under way -- the votes will be cast by local hoteliers -- to decide whether to raise visitor taxes by $1 billion to finance a Convention Center expansion. The number of votes a hotel company has depends on its room revenues and its proximity to the convention center, and there's a major fight over access to public information. This election has it all.


From Liam Dillon in the Voice of San Diego: "We're in this fight because we want to know how much power Host has to determine if the tax increase happens. In normal elections, the number of votes someone has isn't difficult to figure out. But this election isn't normal. It's not just one vote for each of the four hotels Host owns in the city. Instead, hotels receive votes based on their room revenues and their proximity to the Convention Center. There are almost 27 million votes at stake."


"Using the city's formula and the port's data, we calculated that Host's three waterfront hotels entitle the company to 5.5 million votes. That's about 21 percent of the total. It's a lot, but not the full one-third Host would need to block the tax increase by itself. This figure includes the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the Marriott Marquis & Marina and the Sheraton Harbor Island, but not the Host-owned Marriott in Mission Valley. Those votes won't make a huge difference."


"Our figures are only estimates. We cannot know Host's exact vote total unless the city makes it public. We're continuing to push for it. Felix Tinkov, a local public records attorney, said the port data undermines the city's argument."


Nobody knows how the California's new top-two primary system will play out, but thus far it is appearing to have an impact on legislative and congressional races, forcing candidates of both parties to reach beyond their own party's voters.


From Jim Miller and Ben Goad in the Press-Entperise: "The difference is, we're having to reach out to decline-to-state voters and conservative Democrats. We've widened the voter pool, and we didn't have to do that before," Paule said."


"Under the previous California primary system, the top vote-getter in a political party's primary would advance to the general election. November elections were non-events in districts where one party had a lopsided advantage in voter registration."


"In the new system, there are no political-party primaries. Instead, voters can cast their ballots for anyone on the ballot. The two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November election."


Marijuana mogul Richard Lee says he'll fight on, despite the federal raids on his home and Oaksterdam University.


From the Bee's Peter Hecht: "He said he is considering ways to reopen Oaksterdam, which has brought 15,000 students to downtown Oakland since 2007 to study marijuana cultivation and careers. "One way or another, Oaksterdam will fight on," he said."


"Lee neither took the stage nor addressed the crowd at the San Francisco rally as Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam's executive chancellor, told the gathering to spread the word – should Lee face charges – that federal authorities are trampling on California's 1996 medical marijuana law."


Peter Douglas, the guiding force for decades behind the California Coastal Commission, died Sunday after a years-long bout with cancer.


From Capitol Weekly's John  Howard: "The German-born Douglas, who came to California as a youngster in the early 1950s, was fascinated by California's 1,100-mile coastline, which he said he first glimpsed after a relative picked him up at the airport in Los Angeles and they drove to the ocean. "I couldn't believe it. The palm trees, the blue sky, the water. It was magical and I never forgot it," he said last year."


"The magic stayed with him his entire life. A graduate of UCLA in 1965 and a 1969 graduate of the university's law school, Douglas wound up in the state Capitol, where he worked on environmental policy issues. In 1972, he co-authored Proposition 20, which created the Coastal Commission, and four years later he helped write the Coastal Act, which put coastal protections -- and the commission -- into permanence."


"During his tenure, the Commission evolved into an aggressive environmental steward and Douglas personified the Commission's commitmemt to coastal safeguards -- a posture that frequently brought him into conflict with wealthy property owners, powerful Hollywood luminaries, developers, high-priced land-use lawyers and the like. Villified by some but lionized by others, Douglas appeared unconcerned at the tumult."


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