Morning Report: Planning Commission Brouhaha

Morning Report: Planning Commission Brouhaha

File photo by Sam Hodgson

Mayor Bob Filner

For better or worse, the mayor-as-bulldozer era continues at City Hall. This time, the Planning Commission got to experience the pressure from above as it considered a controversial plant to tear down a couple historic cottages in La Jolla.

The commission’s decision, which came last week, would be final. It was ready to vote and rejected the mayor’s request for a delay. And then the drama began. VOSD land-use reporter Andrew Keatts has the play-by-play, which had a lot to do with the changeover from old to new planning commissioners.

Wanna Teach in La Jolla? Seniority Still Rules

Teaching in La Jolla may be a dream for many San Diego schoolteachers. But they may have to wait a long time to even consider the option: Seniority rules when it comes to filling openings.

Some La Jolla parents, teachers and school staff members want to change that, VOSD education blogger Christie Ritter reports. But the teachers union has declared it a nonstarter, saying it’s not enough to just get support for the change from La Jolla teachers.

The Nuclear Option

• “Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff want to void a ruling that played a significant role in Southern California Edison’s decision to shut down the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,” KPBS reports. The ruling required the energy company to hold public hearings before restarting the nuke plant.

• Meanwhile, a new documentary now playing locally offers a twist on the usual environmentalist opposition to nuclear power. As KPBS reports, the film argues that getting energy from nuke plants is the best way to defend the planet from climate change.

Yup, There’s Yet Another Election

You thought you were out. But depending on where you live, off-year elections keep pulling you back in.

This time, the North County coastal city of Encinitas is asking voters to cast ballots. Its election is tomorrow, U-T San Diego columnist Logan Jenkins writes, and at issue is the electorate’s right to vote on changes to the city’s blueprint known as the General Plan.

The battle over the tiny number of interested voters is pitting green against green in one of redder-than-red North County’s most liberal cities.

“If Proposition A passes, expect more public votes and all the costly insanity they presume,” Jenkins writes. “If A loses, still lots of engagement, enough for most normal people, but possibly less litigation.”

Filner Gets a Laudatory Write-Up Back Home

Bob Filner, like many of our mayors, isn’t from here. He hails from Pittsburgh, where a local newspaper just published a gushing story about a local boy done good. “He’s widely viewed as a man of the people,” says the story, written by a Pittsburgh-area native who now lives here but may have missed the fact that lots of people didn’t vote for the guy.

The profile also says local newspapers have published headlines like “Why Can’t Mayor Filner Just Be Nicer?” An Internet search reveals only one such headline, and it’s clearly tongue-in-cheek: The story is about the media’s supposed anti-Filner bias, and the full headline is actually “Why Can’t Mayor Filner Just Be Nicer? Corporate News as Propaganda, San Diego Style.”

Quick News Hits

• Our story about San Diego’s new planning director, a bit of a star in planning circles, was the most popular article on our site over the past week. The full Top 10 list is here.

• What’s with the Pulitzer Prize-winning U-T editorial cartoonist’s insistence on making Filner look like a Jewish stereotype? Case in point.

• The county has a new $586 million courthouse in mind for downtown — the old courthouse will be torn down while the newer one will remain. The U-T reports that plans call for a video setup to allow remote court hearings and two courtrooms inside local jails.

• Ian Pike, the San Diego Reader’s restaurant critic, has a bone to pick with the folks who bring him bones to pick. In a newly published cri de coeur, he says the standards of service stink at San Diego restaurants: “I am ignored and slighted on a weekly basis, as are other diners in San Diego… Say something. Leave a scant tip. Tell the manager.”

His experience with local restaurant service isn’t mine. Here’s a (scant) tip for the affronted Pike: Maybe the problem is with the served, not the server.

Correction: Saturday’s Morning Report mischaracterized Donna Frye’s position at Californians Aware. She is the group’s president.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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32 comments
Jim Abbott
Jim Abbott

Love the restaurant review stuff. There are plenty of great servers and restaurants who embrace great service. I had dinner in the bar at The Grant Grill last night. Impeccable. I'll admit that most restaurants are CLUELESS on the rude habit of clearing dishes before EVERYONE at the table is done eating. The only ones not guilty of this that I know of our EL BIZCOCHO at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and the Fountainbleau at The Westgate. Heaven help the server who tries that sh#t with me!

Jim Abbott
Jim Abbott subscribermember

Love the restaurant review stuff. There are plenty of great servers and restaurants who embrace great service. I had dinner in the bar at The Grant Grill last night. Impeccable. I'll admit that most restaurants are CLUELESS on the rude habit of clearing dishes before EVERYONE at the table is done eating. The only ones not guilty of this that I know of our EL BIZCOCHO at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and the Fountainbleau at The Westgate. Heaven help the server who tries that sh#t with me!

Don Wood
Don Wood

Thanks for the SD Free Press article on local media bias against Mayor Filner. You have to admit that VOSD have chosen to take cheap shots at the new mayor on many occasions. Hopefully that will change as VOSD sees him perform over time, and some staffers mature a little bit.

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

Thanks for the SD Free Press article on local media bias against Mayor Filner. You have to admit that VOSD have chosen to take cheap shots at the new mayor on many occasions. Hopefully that will change as VOSD sees him perform over time, and some staffers mature a little bit.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold

Grrr.....frustrated with Voice right now. Not the content - the darn new front page. The Planning Story _IS_ significant. IMHO, it is more significant than street lights in some community and that the mayor is well loved in Pittsburgh. And yet, to have found it other than by clicking through on the morning report, I would not have read it. Currently (Monday at 2 p.m.) there is an easily overlooked little black box that sits over off the main real estate that lists a somewhat uninformative headline and then a link to the Morning Report that, with all due respect, Randy, has a "light touch" rather than a straight forward "Here is the most important stuff to read" flavor. I used to not miss deleting that email. Now it is a "must read" if I want to find out what Voice is reporting on. In my ideal world you are NOT dedicating the real estate you are to "the Plaza" and the "activity" field - and doing what IMHO is your core mission - getting out investigative/uncovered news stories. Those 2 sections get relegated to click throughs. As you grow/add more beats this will be increasingly a problem - as pieces will rotate on and off the prime real estate quickly - they will not be up long enough to informing the public as per the core of the VOSD mission statement.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

Grrr.....frustrated with Voice right now. Not the content - the darn new front page. The Planning Story _IS_ significant. IMHO, it is more significant than street lights in some community and that the mayor is well loved in Pittsburgh. And yet, to have found it other than by clicking through on the morning report, I would not have read it. Currently (Monday at 2 p.m.) there is an easily overlooked little black box that sits over off the main real estate that lists a somewhat uninformative headline and then a link to the Morning Report that, with all due respect, Randy, has a "light touch" rather than a straight forward "Here is the most important stuff to read" flavor. I used to not miss deleting that email. Now it is a "must read" if I want to find out what Voice is reporting on. In my ideal world you are NOT dedicating the real estate you are to "the Plaza" and the "activity" field - and doing what IMHO is your core mission - getting out investigative/uncovered news stories. Those 2 sections get relegated to click throughs. As you grow/add more beats this will be increasingly a problem - as pieces will rotate on and off the prime real estate quickly - they will not be up long enough to informing the public as per the core of the VOSD mission statement.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

I appreciate the suggestions that I'm a whippersnapper or a fast-food hound. (I'm neither). I'm writing from my experience -- I don't know anyone who's complained about overall San Diego restaurant service, by the way -- and from my perspective that servers have a low-paid, high-pressure and thankless job. They deserve sympathy more than snobby restaurant critics do.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

I appreciate the suggestions that I'm a whippersnapper or a fast-food hound. (I'm neither). I'm writing from my experience -- I don't know anyone who's complained about overall San Diego restaurant service, by the way -- and from my perspective that servers have a low-paid, high-pressure and thankless job. They deserve sympathy more than snobby restaurant critics do.

paul jamason
paul jamason

Which person do you think spends more time in restaurants, and is therefore more qualified to judge their service: a restaurant reviewer, or the Morning Report guy? Nearly everyone I know has complained about San Diego service versus other top-tier US cities, and I've had sub-par experiences at some of the same restaurants Pike mentions. And suggesting Pike is the problem? Classy.

paul jamason
paul jamason subscribermember

Which person do you think spends more time in restaurants, and is therefore more qualified to judge their service: a restaurant reviewer, or the Morning Report guy? Nearly everyone I know has complained about San Diego service versus other top-tier US cities, and I've had sub-par experiences at some of the same restaurants Pike mentions. And suggesting Pike is the problem? Classy.

Tom Scott
Tom Scott

"His experience with local restaurant service isn’t mine. Here’s a (scant) tip for the affronted Pike: Maybe the problem is with the served, not the server." Randy, you must be too young to understand what good service is supposed to be. Take it from an old guy who has been eating out for 50+ years that In my experience, it seems like most restaurants today (in every city) seem to have no idea what good service is. For example, a good server will come back and check if everything is okay within 30-60 seconds of your food being delivered. These days I find that it usually happens about half way through the meal. I recently had the experience of being delivered an unsatisfactory dish and waited with hands in my lap for 5 minutes to be asked if everything was ok. The server seemed to have disappeared. I told both the server and the manager about it. At the prices we are paying today, the servers should be better trained by the management.

Tom Scott
Tom Scott subscribermember

"His experience with local restaurant service isn’t mine. Here’s a (scant) tip for the affronted Pike: Maybe the problem is with the served, not the server." Randy, you must be too young to understand what good service is supposed to be. Take it from an old guy who has been eating out for 50+ years that In my experience, it seems like most restaurants today (in every city) seem to have no idea what good service is. For example, a good server will come back and check if everything is okay within 30-60 seconds of your food being delivered. These days I find that it usually happens about half way through the meal. I recently had the experience of being delivered an unsatisfactory dish and waited with hands in my lap for 5 minutes to be asked if everything was ok. The server seemed to have disappeared. I told both the server and the manager about it. At the prices we are paying today, the servers should be better trained by the management.

David Hall
David Hall

"His experience with local restaurant service isn’t mine. Here’s a (scant) tip for the affronted Pike: Maybe the problem is with the served, not the server." Maybe you should try something better than McDonalds.

David Hall
David Hall subscriber

"His experience with local restaurant service isn’t mine. Here’s a (scant) tip for the affronted Pike: Maybe the problem is with the served, not the server." Maybe you should try something better than McDonalds.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

I admit no such thing, Don. I'm plenty mature and have been doing this for a long time. VOSD has treated Filner with aggressive and skeptical coverage, which every mayor deserves. If the mayor needs a lap dog, tell him to go buy a chihuahua.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

I admit no such thing, Don. I'm plenty mature and have been doing this for a long time. VOSD has treated Filner with aggressive and skeptical coverage, which every mayor deserves. If the mayor needs a lap dog, tell him to go buy a chihuahua.

Scott Lewis
Scott Lewis

You've been heard. We're working on it.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold

Randy, I think that style works wonders, in for example, a three dot article or Herb Cohen. If the front page really provided a quick glance as to "the news of the day" this wouldn't be an issue. But with the limited real estate and the constant changing content the Morning Report, for good or ill, has become the broadsheet. The writing probably needs to reflect that - absent a change to the front page real estate to provide an easier navigation to the stories that the editorial leadership deems most important. One mans feedback. Maybe others are fine and dandy with the front page and I am, as oft the case, a minority of one ;-)

David Hall
David Hall

I gave them the same feedback. The activity thing is mostly a waste of space, especially when something as simple as an edit to an existing comment causes a new activity event to show up. The plaza is entirely too large, and for God's sake, please figure out how to make the sort sticky. Having it always default to most popular is beyond frustrating.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold

LOL about reading rather than deleting.. But then I think Randy it becomes something more than what it is. It needs to be done in a more "pyramid" story format and, I THINK, a harder editorial touch. For example, in the post today it is just "City Hall". Not San Diego City Hall. Not Mayor Filner. Just "Mayor." That works (and is ideal) if Morning report isn't PRINCIPALLY the "News of the day" but rather a more breezy skim piece over coffee. Now, however, as long as it is the main (only?) vehicle to have a compilation of the stories Voice is reporting on it probably needs a different editorial slant. This is a big picture editorial decision to be made by those with higher pay grades than either of us....but take it as one persons feedback....the Site (and organization) have become a lot less useful to me if I have to dig/think this hard to follow the stories you are reporting on so as to foster "community".

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

Erik: I am glad that you no longer delete the Morning report. I think. -Randy

Scott Lewis
Scott Lewis administrator

You've been heard. We're working on it.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

Randy, I think that style works wonders, in for example, a three dot article or Herb Cohen. If the front page really provided a quick glance as to "the news of the day" this wouldn't be an issue. But with the limited real estate and the constant changing content the Morning Report, for good or ill, has become the broadsheet. The writing probably needs to reflect that - absent a change to the front page real estate to provide an easier navigation to the stories that the editorial leadership deems most important. One mans feedback. Maybe others are fine and dandy with the front page and I am, as oft the case, a minority of one ;-)

David Hall
David Hall subscriber

I gave them the same feedback. The activity thing is mostly a waste of space, especially when something as simple as an edit to an existing comment causes a new activity event to show up. The plaza is entirely too large, and for God's sake, please figure out how to make the sort sticky. Having it always default to most popular is beyond frustrating.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

LOL about reading rather than deleting.. But then I think Randy it becomes something more than what it is. It needs to be done in a more "pyramid" story format and, I THINK, a harder editorial touch. For example, in the post today it is just "City Hall". Not San Diego City Hall. Not Mayor Filner. Just "Mayor." That works (and is ideal) if Morning report isn't PRINCIPALLY the "News of the day" but rather a more breezy skim piece over coffee. Now, however, as long as it is the main (only?) vehicle to have a compilation of the stories Voice is reporting on it probably needs a different editorial slant. This is a big picture editorial decision to be made by those with higher pay grades than either of us....but take it as one persons feedback....the Site (and organization) have become a lot less useful to me if I have to dig/think this hard to follow the stories you are reporting on so as to foster "community".

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

Erik: I am glad that you no longer delete the Morning report. I think. -Randy

Tom Scott
Tom Scott

Bad service is most always a function of bad management. They either don't train, don't hold accountable or don't provide enough resources to support the customer interaction folks, e.g. not enough staff. At the same time, tips are intended to be a feedback mechanism. I always tip above average, but whenever I reduce the tip I also provide verbal feedback as to why. The only zero tip I have ever left was at a Ruth Chris steak house in DC on a $600 check at business dinner for 10 that I was hosting in 2000. Steaks were overcooked and no one came to ask if everything was ok, The bread and water was not refilled and the only thing checked was our alcohol. It was the worst experience I have ever had in a high end restaurant. I not only told the waiters, I told the manager and I emailed the corporate headquarters. I have never been to another Ruth Chris since. I don't think asking servers who have never been trained correctly to comment on the quality service. BTW, the best service I have had lately is very energetic young man works days at the RB Jack in the Box. He goes way above and beyond the normal fast food order taker, even the In-n-Out folks (a great example of good consistent training).

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

You're right, actually: If the server isn't doing a good job, it may be a matter of poor management or poor training (or lack of resources). Diners shouldn't be so quick to blame the server and give them a bad tip when the problem may be somewhere else.

Tom Scott
Tom Scott subscribermember

Bad service is most always a function of bad management. They either don't train, don't hold accountable or don't provide enough resources to support the customer interaction folks, e.g. not enough staff. At the same time, tips are intended to be a feedback mechanism. I always tip above average, but whenever I reduce the tip I also provide verbal feedback as to why. The only zero tip I have ever left was at a Ruth Chris steak house in DC on a $600 check at business dinner for 10 that I was hosting in 2000. Steaks were overcooked and no one came to ask if everything was ok, The bread and water was not refilled and the only thing checked was our alcohol. It was the worst experience I have ever had in a high end restaurant. I not only told the waiters, I told the manager and I emailed the corporate headquarters. I have never been to another Ruth Chris since. I don't think asking servers who have never been trained correctly to comment on the quality service. BTW, the best service I have had lately is very energetic young man works days at the RB Jack in the Box. He goes way above and beyond the normal fast food order taker, even the In-n-Out folks (a great example of good consistent training).

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

You're right, actually: If the server isn't doing a good job, it may be a matter of poor management or poor training (or lack of resources). Diners shouldn't be so quick to blame the server and give them a bad tip when the problem may be somewhere else.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

Understood! I've always tried to use a light touch to make the Morning Report accessible to more than the usual policy wonks. Maybe there's a way to experiment with a hard-news intro or something along those lines. (By the way, an editor once derided my work as "cheesy and low-brow." I'm medium-brow, gosh darn it!) As for CIty Hall and "the mayor": my style has been a bit like the San Francisco Chronicle's, which refers to "The CIty." Everybody knows what The City is. If you live in SF, there is no other!

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

Understood! I've always tried to use a light touch to make the Morning Report accessible to more than the usual policy wonks. Maybe there's a way to experiment with a hard-news intro or something along those lines. (By the way, an editor once derided my work as "cheesy and low-brow." I'm medium-brow, gosh darn it!) As for CIty Hall and "the mayor": my style has been a bit like the San Francisco Chronicle's, which refers to "The CIty." Everybody knows what The City is. If you live in SF, there is no other!