Morning report: Volunteers from Southwest America under criminal investigation

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Volunteers from Southwest America, a local charity, have previously played a significant role in helping and sheltering veterans as well as those experiencing homelessness, mental illness and addiction. But now charity in a criminal case Office of the Inspector General, according to Will Huntsbury.

Last year Huntsberry found allegations of potential fraud, mismanagement and misappropriation of public fundstwo whistleblowers as well as San Diego County auditors.

Following Huntsbury’s story, the charity board and CEO were rejected and officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs suspended funding for $ 2 million.

“VOASW is cooperating, and all parties are working hard to address this issue,” a spokeswoman for the Volunteers of America said in a statement.

The spokeswoman did not comment on the current state of the charity and did not give an interview to its current CEO.

At least one Southwest Volunteer facility in America, a large 120-bed rehab center in National City that was previously funded by San Diego County, is no longer operating.

VA officials have promised to conduct a forensic examination of volunteers in Southwest America after the initial Huntsbury investigation. Huntsberry sent a request to review the Freedom of Information Act, but did not receive it. He appealed the decision.

Read the full story here.

SDG & E is proposing a 9 percent rate increase in 2024

Mission Hills Engineering Pillar Line / Photo by Dustin Michelson

San Diego Gas and Electric plans to increase gas and electricity bills by nearly 9 percent starting in 2024, when state regulators adopt the proposed four-year spending plan presented this week to utilities.

This means that a typical household customer (who SDG & E defines as a user of 400 kWh of electricity and 24 gas therms per month) will see their utility bills jump by about $ 18 a month, according to the utility.

“We know our customers may not be too comforted,” Scott Crider, senior vice president of external relations at SDG & E, told the Voice of San Diego on Tuesday. “We understand that with all the inflationary pressures of rising gas, food and housing prices, there is never a good time to ask for a rate hike.”

California-owned utilities in California must provide a rationale for raising customer tariffs with the State Utilities Commission that called filing a case at a common rate. This is basically SDG & E’s forecast as to what it will cost to run its business primarily for infrastructure and system maintenance, said Jamie York, who is working on the documents. The plan for 2024-2027 shows that SDG & E wants to spend $ 3.02 billion in 2024. This is 28 percent more than planned in 2023.

Crider said the costs are mainly concentrated in three areas: the transition to clean energy, such as building batteries and infrastructure for charging electric vehicles; fastening of gas pipelines; and protecting and preventing infrastructure from forest fires, including burying more power lines underground, which is one of the most expensive measures against forest fires that utilities can take.

How much the utility can spend in 2025 and years to come will be proposed later given inflation. CPUC has 18 months to review SDG & E’s spending plan.

The utility also wants to increase its cybersecurity budget, referring to recent cyberattacks Russia on Ukrainian and American organizations and industries. And SDG & E wants to spend more hydrogen is evolving as a potential renewable energy resource.

Electricity bills rose sharply in January, about 11 percent across the system. So the extra costs for many are not welcome news. More than 25 percent of SDG & E’s household customers need money in their electricity billsreports “Union Tribune”.

Craig Rose, a former Union-Tribune reporter, became a defender of the city of San Diego discard SDG & E and create a utilitysaid the rate hike “points to state power”.

“How much better do we need to recall the franchise (with SDG & E) than this steady rate hike,” Rose said.

The mayor published a revised budget

Mayor Todd Gloria released him revised budget proposal on Tuesday after hearings on the city council budget and public contributions.

Here are some of the changes Gloria outlined through projected increases in tax revenues and increases in funds not previously spent on the U.S. Rescue Plan Act:

  • $ 547,000 and three new positions for the city attorney’s office to support a unit aimed at accommodating homeless residents who cannot take care of themselves, treatment and housing. That’s $ 47,000 more than that asked city council members Marnie von Wilpert and Jen Campbell for this purpose.
  • $ 331,000 to support the hiring of the city’s first General Department of Behavior to help city paramedics serve residents with mental health needs.
  • $ 200,000 for a so-called pilot safe camping program for vulnerable homeless seniors that comes with business and service management “in partnership with private resources and the San Diego County”. Lawyers were calling the city use this approach for months and explored potential sites. The Housing Commission recently said it is also considering the concept.
  • $ 5.4 million to rent out and improve more facilities to “expand the shelter for non-congregational people” for the homeless.
  • $ 4.1 million to increase police overtime.
  • $ 1.5 million and 16 equivalent full-time positions to support a second shift of public restrooms and garbage collection in city parks plus $ 388,000 for security in parks and restrooms. We wrote a lot about city ​​public toilet problems.
  • $ 725,000 for a consultant to analyze the needs of downtown offices, continuing efforts this is already happening as the city also weighs its future at 101 Ash St. and the Civic Center Plaza.
  • $ 500,000 to hire a consultant assist the city in negotiating the development and lease of the Sports Arena.
  • $ 528,000 to hire five rescue sergeants to “support the Boating Safety Unit and Northern Area Night Operations Personnel.”

In other news

  • The planned wastewater treatment project in East County is $ 950 million now in doubt after the city of San Diego dropped a promise to put $ 35 million to build the pipeline. (Union Tribune)
  • City Council on Tuesday approved the ban on the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol, starting in January. (City News Service)
  • San Diego City Council adopted a decisive vote On Tuesday, approve the changes requested by the State Coastal Commission in the decision on short-term vacation rentals. The rules are now being sent back to the Coastal Commission for final approval before they can take effect. (NBC 7)
  • The City Council on Tuesday voted in favor spend another $ 27 million on a reverse vision of a long-awaited downtown park in East Village Green that saw the cost of balloons. (Union Tribune)
  • The city may become a new ambulance provider received more than $ 450,000 in the amount of fees for non-compliance with the requirements of the contract. (KPBS)
  • Court was at the session at the Whaley House in the Old Town on Tuesday for the first time since 1871. (NBC 7)

This morning’s report was written by Will Huntsbury, Lisa Halverstadt, Mackenzie Elmer and Andrew Keats. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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