Council Labors Through Dog Days Of Summer

LA MESA – In the months leading up to any election, there is nothing an office holder likes more than a quiet meeting with few cantankerous issues to cause stirs or create divisions in the electorate. If that is the case, Tuesday’s city council meeting would be the Pax La Mesa in what were literally the dog days of summer.

Things were so quiet, in fact, the La Mesa leaders had to call in a canine show and the leadership of the Helix Water District to add some element of spice to the proceedings.

Helix Water District is currently seeking an 8.8 percent increase in water rates and are rolling out new pricing procedures that will raise rates on heaviest users. The proposal hasn’t sat well with local residents who, perhaps, felt that all the water conservation they are doing – down 21 percent in the last three years alone – should be rewarded, not punished with rate hikes (Public Hearing information here:

Mark Weston, Helix Water District’s General Manager, addressed the council and explained that the increase is a direct response to the 18 percent increase in the price water wholesalers charge the district.

Weston praised residents for their conservation, pointing out that government’s 2020 mandated conservation levels have already been met by we water conscious La Mesans. But he said the fast changing water world, legal fights about the Sacramento Delta water and persistent drought has put pressure on all the water districts. Desalination plants and development of more local water sources, including reclaimed water efforts, are underway but operation costs do not decline with reduced water usage.

La Mesa resident Russell Buckley has been leading a chorus of local critics challenging the benefits granted to the Helix Water District employees. Buckley addressed the council last night, repeating his call for a reduction in pension benefits at the Water District.

Weston, however, said the pension costs were a relatively small percentage of the district’s cost increases. The cost of water, he said, is driving everything.

Weston was followed to the podium by another local institution that can easily distract voters from any electoral issues: San Diego Gas & Electric.

But little controversy here. No power line issues or wild fire discussions. Risa Baron, SDG&E energy program’s supervisor, explained to the council that crews were working throughout La Mesa this month to install new smart meters to replace old electric meters.

Baron explained the new meters will allow electric customers to have immediate reports on electrical use and will eventually eliminate the need for meter readers.

The new meters will also allow the utility to eventually charge more for electricity used during peak hours than they charge for off-peak usage.

Baron said the solar users will have new meters put in by the end of 2011 but La Mesa should be fully updated soon.

The new meters will also allow electric and gas customers, see their usage on-line including through a partnership with Google, will allow you to see updates on your home computer.

“The day you can use your phone to call and turn off your lights at home are not far away,’’ she said.
But on this warm summer day, not even two local utilities could get juices flowing. All in all, the meeting highlight was the La Mesa Police Department’s demonstration of its canine unit’s drug-sniffing dog.

With five packages planted throughout the chambers, Max, the 2 and a half year old chocolate lab, quickly found the drug stash, planted in a box in front of Mayor Art Madrid.

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Tags: Government


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Comment by Susan Brinchman on January 10, 2011 at 5:38pm

Don't be fooled. Where were our County Supervisors, mayors, and city councils when Smart Meters were being installed? In Marin County, it is a criminal offense to install them, for one year, per the decision of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. That is how dangerous they are.

 Smart Meters are definitely a way to infringe upon one's privacy and earn bigger bucks for utilities. The worst side of Smart Meters are the health impacts from increased electromagnetic fields and RF emissions from non-ionized radiation, as the meters are indescriminately placed close to people in homes and yards. The Smart Meters emit high bursts of radiation throughout the day. For instance, my Smart Meter was installed right next to the headboard of my bed, on the exterior wall. Not a word was spoken nor a pamphlet provided to warn me about health effects. At first, there was ringing of the ears and sleeplessness, with fatigue. This worked into worse ringing and pain in ears, at times. Then, worse yet, increasing sensitivity to other electromagnetic fields such as from computers, wireless internet, WI-FI, cell phones, and DECT phone systems. A feeling of nausea and headache would come from using these. Changed my life for the worse, that is for sure. Can't use the master bedroom now, can't go near the Smart Meter outside (there goes the front and side yards) .... and even with a note from my environmental doctor, SDG&E, my utility, will not remove the Smart Meter(s). Oh, did I mention, there are two, one on each end of the house. I think it is all a lie about the green aspects - except for, of course, the green that goes to the bank for the utilities - Smart Meters mean money for utilities and loss of health, privacy, and security for the rest of us. Visit for more information.


Comment by Russell Buckley on July 15, 2010 at 9:10pm
I don't have the figures to know how much of the rate increase could avoided by making pensions fair. Even if it is only a portion of it, as Mark Weston says, it needs to be done - and before we give them any more of our money. We simply have to say no to public sector employees, in virtually every agency in our state, using our money to make themselves into a privileged class of citizens. Have a look at the editorial in today's U/T, written by four prominent businessmen: "The largest single contributer to our budget crisis is the unaffordable cost of current labor, which is driven by the high cost of pensions." While written about the City of San Diego, it applies to our entire state. It is time to say NO!

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