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If you’re looking for a San Diego tale of redemption, Michael Zucchet might be your man. But it’s not quite clear how this story ends.

A few years ago, he faced corruption charges in the “Strippergate” scandal and stepped down as a San Diego city councilman. Then came a court battle and, just a few months ago, vindication.

Now, he’s head of City Hall’s largest employee union and looking forward to better days for the city he once served. “I hope and suspect we are at something of a bottom not only economically, but in terms of our public debate, but in terms of our city and our city employees,” he says in this weekend’s Q&A.

Zucchet answers questions about his friendship with Dick Murphy, the degrading level of civic debate and the impact he hopes to have. He also talks about his legal problems, his legal bills and the opinion of one Justice Antonin Scalia.

In other news:

  • We report that “the San Diego Ethics Commission has proposed levying a maximum $170,000 fine against Nancy Graham, the former CCDC president, alleging that she broke the law by improperly making decisions in office that benefited her business associates.”
  • No criminal charges will be filed against the former head of San Diego’s municipal white-collar union. She quit after an investigation of her use of union credit cards; Zucchet replaced her.
  • Earlier this week, we wrote about local prosecutors embracing a new legal strategy that targets pimps. What’s life like on the streets for prostitutes? We have excerpts from transcripts that illustrate the threats and intimidation used by pimps to control prostitutes.
  • Balboa Park’s Natural History Museum is having such a difficult time making it through the recession that a ratings company is skeptical it can pay its debt.
  • There’s a new development — a jail term — in the bizarre identity theft case we wrote about a few weeks ago. This is the one where a guy stole his half-brother’s identity for three decades.
  • Woof, there it is! The subject of our Photo of the Day is a mighty-fine-looking pooch (unlike, say, the one in today’s kid-friendly photo soundtrack).

Elsewhere:

  • The U-T reports that San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald is facing an ethics fine of as much as $10,000. Her attorney says mistakes were made, but they weren’t that egregious.
  • We missed this development in yesterday’s Morning Report: local Assemblyman Joel Anderson must pay a $20,000 fine for “for breaking the law by soliciting and accepting campaign contributions in excess of the legal limit,” the UT reports. A GOP central committee in Fresno County must pay a related $29,000 fine. The U-T uncovered strange campaign funding activity earlier this year.
  • There’s been a mixed ruling in the case of a Marine accused of “bungling the military’s response” to a mass slaying in Iraq. (NCT)
  • There’s an old-fashioned media battle heating up between the U-T and San Diego CityBeat. U-T newsroom types (here and here) are questioning CityBeat’s case in its continuing crusade to force an admission that the paper’s investigative partner botched a splashy story about local sex offenders.

The Coffee Collection: The best stories from the week to sit down and read over a cup of joe.

Cracking Down on Pimps San Diego prosecutors want pimps to spend more time in prison, and they think they’ve found a way to do that by linking them to gangs. Experts in gangs and prostitution are dubious of the connection.

Hello, Taxpayers? The Chargers Would Like a Word: Our football team has wanted a new stadium for quite a while. Now, for the first time in a long time, it’s saying it wants the public to help pay for it.

Quote of the Week: “It’s none of your business. I never said a word in the whole case about anything, and I’m not going to start now.” — former local judge Lewis A. Wenzell, refusing to comment on the truth of solicitation-of-prostitution charges that led to the end of his judicial career in 1982.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

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.

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