It’s becoming a trend when we confront public officials about extravagant spending on the public dime: You just don’t get it.

“Have you ever tried to eat on $25? I promise you it is very difficult to do,” the San Diego schools chief told us last spring while defending taxpayer-funded meals of venison and fancy Japanese beef.

Bob Watkins, the chairman of the San Diego airport authority, tried a similar approach when asked about an $11,000 first-class airfare for two to London among other expenses.

It didn’t land well.

“What are you, Marie Antoinette in drag?” asks one miffed letter writer.

After the story ran, it became clear that Watkins’ explanation for why he had to go to London wasn’t holding up. He had said he went there to support an airline — Zoom — but it turns out this airline had gone belly up two months before his trip.

Yesterday, Watkins offered another explanation for taking the trip.

The aforementioned schools chief has changed his ways: He’s flying coach and has cut back on other expenses.

To help illustrate the whole spending story, our media partners at Ch.4 cox and Ch. 7/39 swooped in with a video version of the story. You can watch it here to catch up.

TV news, like the whole news business, is undergoing a sometimes-painful correction.

Reporters are learning to be photographers (and vice versa). Stations are outsourcing and highly competitive broadcasters are working together to cover events.

Some veteran TV journalists are disgusted.

Repulsion has been the order of the day among downtown residents who don’t like seeing tent cities of the homeless. But now the cops are cracking down.

In other news, bus and trolley riders shouldn’t have to bear even higher fares for a while after three hikes (and various service cancellations or reductions) in 18 months. That’s because more than $300 million in federal stimulus funds is headed this way for transportation and transit projects.

Got a second to help us out? We’re looking for your questions about the convention center expansion and your tips for an upcoming story about El Cajon’s real-estate market.

The latter story will be part of a series of neighborhood real-estate profiles. My favorite recent one looked at the housing market in Julian, where cider and apple pie couldn’t keep the market slump at bay.

Elsewhere, the New York Times examines claims that dogs look like their owners, referring to an intriguing 2004 UC San Diego study that found people could link purebred dogs to their owners more often than chance would predict.

But, as the NYT hints, maybe people and their pooches look alike because they have similar personalities.

This must mean I’m destined to get a really fascinating, loveable and magnetic dog. Right?


Support Us: This is Day 2 of our March to 1,000 members drive. Become a member by donating at your preferred level today and join us for our monthly member gatherings to get an in-depth explanation of all of the stories we’re covering or just our general view of where the media is going.

Better yet, come and give us your thoughts on what we could be doing better.

Help us reach this important milestone of 1,000 members and help illustrate how many San Diegans care about this vital public service: investigative and explanatory reporting.

And we’re trying to provide a way to keep up with local news. We figure this Morning Report, for instance, costs us about $99 to send out every day.

Help us keep it going and keep it improving forever. Become a member today.

You can donate online here or send a check to:

2508 Historic Decatur Rd. STE 120

San Diego, CA 92106

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.