The anti-terrorism spending spawned by the Sept. 11 attacks benefited companies across the country, including a San Marcos firm that built custom law-enforcement vehicles equipped with things like robots and satellite communications.

Millions of dollars in orders came flooding in to Mattman Specialty Vehicles. But then the high-flying company tanked.

As a story by our non-profit investigative partner California Watch puts it, its failure “illustrates how small businesses and communities alike struggled to manage the seemingly limitless spending spree on homeland security that emerged after 9/11.”

In other news:

  • State utility officials yesterday brushed back SDG&E’s plan to shut off power to parts of the backcountry during dangerous wildfire conditions. We’ve got a roundup of news coverage and details about how SDG&E is trying to look at the bright side.
  • The city of San Diego is looking to outsource some services that it already outsources. So does that mean the city is finally embracing “managed competition”? We decided to do some outsourcing of our own and asked two think tanks to help us figure this one out.
  • The sun rose yesterday, and something else happened right on schedule: The Houston school district finally hired San Diego schools chief Terry Grier.

    What a shocker.

    Grier isn’t wasting his time leaving his job here. And in a message sent via Twitter, Grier said he’s “humbled and honored to be selected by a reformed (sic) minded board that is student focused.”

    Huh. Does that make San Diego’s board status-quo minded and custodian focused?

    Also in education, La Mesa-Spring Valley elementary district board members are red-faced about giving President Obama the bum’s rush.

  • A local state assemblyman says he’ll propose legislation to keep L.A. from “stealing” the San Diego Chargers.

    Can you “steal” the willing?

  • A while back, we profiled “tuna testers” at the local Chicken of the Sea headquarters. Now, our videographer partners at the Media Arts Center have made their own visit to the people who make sure your sandwich doesn’t come with any surprises.

    They also have a new video interview with a Golden Hills architect who’s trying to improve the struggling neighborhood.

  • In commentary, columnist James Goldsborough ponders this question: “How do you govern a state of 40 million people with a constitution written for 1.5 million, with an initiative system designed to defeat special interests that has come to be dominated by them?

    If things don’t get better, Goldsborough warns, the state may end up split in two.

  • It’s pot-a-palooza! The U-T, NCT, and San Diego CityBeat have more coverage of this week’s raids of marijuana “dispensaries.”

    Read our explainer of everything we don’t know about what’s legal and what’s not. The people who run these stores must really have some major headaches now. If only they could get a doctor to prescribe them some … oh, let’s move on.

  • Finally, an L.A.-area legislator says he “wasn’t paying attention” when a now-disgraced Orange County assemblyman went on (and on), in a breathtakingly crude conversation caught on tape, about his boudoir escapades with a woman who was not his wife but may have been a lobbyist for SDG&E’s parent company. (She denies wrongdoing.)

    Still unclear: How barely listening means asking about whether the now-former assemblyman’s lady friend liked a certain naughty activity.

    Meanwhile, the lout in question is offering a new explanation about his colorful chat: He was only engaged in “inappropriate storytelling.”

    So that’s what they’re calling it these days.


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