When San Diego’s homeless arrive in a makeshift courtroom at downtown’s St. Vincent de Paul Village, they aren’t waiting to be punished. Instead, they’re there for a chance to avoid the real thing.

The “court” doesn’t have the power to wipe a transient’s legal slate clean, but the prosecutors that work with it do. The idea is to help the homeless — along with the mentally ill and addicted — rid themselves of the consequences of citations and warrants.

But they have to work for it. The participants in the homeless court program, the first in the country, must have enrolled in recovery programs or have taken steps to find work or homes.

In other news:

  • With their budgets strapped, local politicians are turning to a cheaper way to fend off wildfires: with prevention instead of more manpower and equipment. Their weapons: education and brush clearing.

    But there’s debate over whether removing dead trees in the backcountry is a wise use of money since research suggests that may not make much difference in a wildfire.

  • Today’s your chance to order one of our reporters around.

    No, he won’t get your coffee or wash your car. (Trust us, we tried that already.) But Adrian Florido, a newcomer to our staff who’s impressed us with his powers of observation and flair with words, is up for taking on an assignment courtesy of you. Just send him adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org“>an email.

  • For weeks, we’ve been chronicling the foibles of airport board chairman Bob Watkins, who’s had a problem being open with the public.

    Now he’s off the hook, at least with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. The two met Thursday in what sounds like a come-to-Jesus-style confab: Watkins, the mayor’s office says, promises to amend financial statements and rectify possible zoning violations.

    It may take him a while. A check of records reveals that Watkins difficulty with financial-disclosure forms is even more widespread.

  • As we reported last spring, UCSD students have been working on search-engine technology that will allow music lovers to find things like “funky music with a horn section for listening to at a party.” Now the developers have released a music-minded game.
  • Elsewhere on our site: A new report estimates the county will be home to 1.3 million more residents by the year 2050, up from 3.1 million now. That’s an increase of more than San Diego’s current population.

    Anyone know how accurate local population projections were 40 years ago?

    New statistics once again suggest the local economy’s downturn may be bottoming out.

    Hundreds of biotechs may be avoiding Facebook and Twitter but not the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. It has created a site for people with post-polio syndrome and is wooing patients via social media.

    We’ve got a high-flying Photo of the Day, plus contributions from readers.

  • Elsewhere: Some residential SDG&E customers will get a refund next month: an average credit of $71. (U-T) The San Diego police union has a new lobbyist who’s married to a spokesman for Mayor Sanders. (U-T)

    In other mayor’s office news, Sanders will step in where councilmembers refuse to tread and suggest sites for homeless shelters in all eight council districts. (U-T)

  • Finally, Councilman Todd Gloria has once again told the world that road repair is enticing. “There’s nothing sexier to me than a newly paved street,” he declared this week.

    Psst! Todd! Streets don’t vote.

RANDY DOTINGA

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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