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Even for San Diego’s city hall, which has become a bastion of secrecy during the reign of Mayor Jerry Sanders, an ex–chief of police known for his aversion to public scrutiny, it would be an audacious move: to quietly turn over all of the City’s streetlights to a private company from Long Beach, the mayor’s hometown. But that’s the deal that may be afoot behind closed doors in the mayor’s well-appointed 11th-floor offices.

Sanders, who already wants to sell off the City-operated Miramar Landfill, has been obliging to friends in the private sector who have backed his political career with generous cash contributions. One of the foremost is Richard Ledford, the well-connected lobbyist who is representing City Light & Power, a privately owned outfit that has operated Long Beach’s 33,000 streetlights since 1995. According to his most recent quarterly activity filing, during the first three months of this year Ledford received $16,000 from the company and directly lobbied Jay Goldstone, the mayor’s chief operating officer, as well as public works chief Dave Jarrell, human resources director Scott Chadwick, deputy director of street maintenance Hasan Yousef, and general services director Mario Sierra. The outcome sought: a “contract with the city to improve, maintain and operate municipal street lights.”

Long Beach city staffer Mark Christoffels says that Long Beach’s deal with City Light & Power runs until 2020 and pays the company $5 million a year. Christoffels says he doesn’t know much about City Light or how it got the contract, just that it’s a private, closely held operation and there haven’t been any complaints about how it’s been handling Long Beach’s streetlights. The firm has a website, but as of last week it was off-line. A man identifying himself as Bill Simmons, who Christoffels says is his contact at City Light, took a phone call and said he would call back to describe the company’s plans for San Diego, but he failed to respond to subsequent calls. Mayoral spokespeople also did not return calls.

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Comments

Founder July 21, 2010 @ 5:14 p.m.

We should start calling them $treetlights...

By the way, North Park's LLMD (now the NP-MAD) installed the States first solar powered streetlights many years ago and you can see some of them just North of El Cajon Blvd on the West side of I-805. When we tried to buy more from the same Company, we were forced to go out to bid, a process that was delayed and delayed (until another provider could reverse engineer the ones we wanted to purchase) and suddenly we had to buy from them instead of from the original Co. we wanted...

Funny how things work in San Diego!

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a2zresource July 25, 2010 @ 8:40 p.m.

Hmmm... I wonder what it would take for SDG&E to insist that IT has the electricity franchise that covers street lighting... or IT at least makes money "for transmitting and distributing electricity suitable for lighting"...

Can't imagine that Sempra Energy's Office of General Councel isn't already drawing up paperwork to "intervene" in any backroom deal here. Gotta protect them shareholders...

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monaghan July 25, 2010 @ 8:58 p.m.

Reading this, one's first impulse is: fine, let's get a private contractor who actually will keep the street lights working instead of the City that utterly ignores burned-out lamps, at some cost to public safety. Would a private contractor be responsive to citizen complaints?

The fast-traffic Y-intersection of Turquoise and La Jolla Blvd. is completely dark at night -- at just the spot near a large garden apartment complex, an Albertson's grocery store, a Pernicano's restaurant, a bar, and single family homes. When a pedestrian gets hurt or killed there, will the City be liable? No one downtown seems to care, though this situation was brought to their attention more than a year ago.

Aside from that, lobbyist Richard Ledford really gets around. Didn't he once work for the Chargers (expensive ticket guarantee) or the Padres (expensive baseball-only stadium?)

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Founder July 27, 2010 @ 11:30 a.m.

Wonder if this has anything to do with today docket item:

ITEM-53: Proposed Broad Spectrum Street Lighting, EECBG Municipal Energy Efficiency and Balboa Park Projects.

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BlueSouthPark July 27, 2010 @ 12:11 p.m.

4 I think all of the lights that burn all day along 30th and in areas with those special-assessment-paid acorn lights make up for the lights that never burn at night. It all evens out.

I'd say, No, private businesses wouldn't be more responsive. probably about the same. It would just be harder to track them down and to know who was supposedly responsible.

And yes, the lobbyists of the "government without government" fans at City Hall do get around. And. Around.

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a2zresource July 27, 2010 @ 12:30 p.m.

RE #5 "ITEM-53: Proposed Broad Spectrum Street Lighting, EECBG Municipal Energy Efficiency":

Something else to research...

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Founder July 27, 2010 @ 1:56 p.m.

Regarding #6

I still think private management with a "civilian" non-paid Board to keep them in line, is the best way to go, as long as that Board is elected publicly by District instead of being appointed.

I pay for a dawn to dusk light (averages out to about $22 per month) and they charge that as a "flat rate" because they are connected but not metered! BTW: It is NOT even billed at their lowest rate, even though it is for the Public good like all other street lights...

Thanks CPUC :-(

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monaghan July 27, 2010 @ 4:22 p.m.

Also, I forgot to say, Richard Ledford was (one of many) chiefs-of-staff to now-infamous Mayor Susan Golding who arranged the pension-for-GOP Convention deal that has had such a long and disastrous history for San Diego city finances.

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Founder July 28, 2010 @ 2:08 p.m.

Replying to # 9

-- $treetlight $hine --

San Diego is like a big one BOSS town, it is into just more debt, we are all bound.

Seems no matter what the voters say or do, For US, all our options gone, except to sue!

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