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Thousands of tortillas roll out of machines at a City Heights food shop each day, destined for burritos, quesadillas and tamales across the city. “Tortilleria Lily,” they’re called, and the face of a little girl in braids looks out from their plastic wrappers.

Is there really a Lily? Or does she rank up there in the grand pantheon of imaginary food personalities with Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima? We decided to find out.

Our story takes you inside Tortilleria Lily, where people line up as early as 5 a.m. for the day’s fresh tortillas. “For a lot of families, if there are no Lily tortillas, we don’t eat,” one customer says. And we have an answer for you about the identity of the mysterious Lily.

  • It was the analogy heard ’round Copenhagen: Ray Weiss, a geochemist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said allowing countries to measure their own compliance with greenhouse gas restrictions was like people going on a diet without having a scale to weigh themselves.

    It made his point eloquently. We hear more from Weiss in this week’s Q&A feature, in which he talks climate change, emissions and global-warming fatigue.

  • San Diego’s top water official is heading to the desert and will be replaced on an interim basis by one of his underlings. You might remember that both of them misrepresented the city’s intentions to consider a water-rate structure that would financially penalize heavy use and reward those who conserve.
  • Real-estate and economics columnist Rich Toscano has only one chart in his latest post, but it’s a really big one so you’ll feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

    Anyway, our resident bubble-buster looks at San Diego’s employment picture and finds that while the January numbers actually suggest some improvement of sorts — the county’s not losing jobs as rapidly as it was — a deeper look reveals that the picture isn’t quite so promising.

  • We have a winner in the Identify-That-Accent game! A reader named Justin Blevins correctly guessed that our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon is from Philadelphia. (The suburbs, actually, but not — horrors — New Jersey, as another reader guessed.)
  • Dillon will buy Blevins a Philly cheesesteak as his prize. Which brings us to our next question: Where’s the best place to get a Philly cheesesteak in this town? Drop Dillon a line if you have a suggestion. He says he likes Olde City in Pacific Beach, “but that doesn’t compare to anything back home,” where they’re presumably plated in gold or something.
  • Our photographer informs us that he has a “Hipstamatic diptych.” Some penicillin should clear that right up. Oh wait, that’s not what he means. The Photo of the Day explains.


  • The AP reports that the governor “has ordered a review of the way the state handled the case of a convicted sex offender who is now a suspect in two San Diego County murders,” those of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.
  • The AP broke the story on Friday that the suspect “could have been sent back to prison in 2007 for parole violations.”
  • The UT has a round-up of candidates who are running in local primary elections in June.
  • The online magazine Slate looks at scientific explanations for tickling and finds a UCSD professor who “studies the social context of tickling” and thinks the laughter response might be “a kind of neuronal bellybutton.”
  • Wow. This brings up the obvious question: Am I going to immediately call this guy and try to interview him for a follow-up story on our site? Answer: Yes. Yes I am.

What We’ve Learned This Week:

The Tap Is Dry: Local political activist Stephen Whitburn blew through some $210,000 of his own money in his unsuccessful bid for City Council in 2008. But he’s not dipping into his pocket in his surprise bid for county supervisor: He says voters will pick up the tab this time around.

Teachers and the GOP, Sitting in a Tree. . .: The San Diego teachers union has endorsed a Republican in a school board race, and he’s not a liberal GOPer (remember back when they had those?). How’d that happen?

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bucket: San Diego’s financial babysitter thinks his $1.8 million pay over three years is a “drop in the bucket” compared to the losses the city incurred by screwing up in the past.

The Coffee Collection: Stories to read over a cup of half-calf, no-foam soy milk latte with Splenda:

The Nays Have It: In many cases, black students don’t apply at UCSD or don’t agree to attend if they do apply and get accepted. How come? (UCSD, by the way, yesterday announced new ways it will woo black students.)

Bill Walton Revisited: One of the biggest stars in the history of basketball is setting off on a new career path.

Cracked: A stretch of 17th Avenue in downtown’s East Village neighborhood — “Crack Corner” — is Ground Zero for drug dealing in the city. Our story explores the reasons why (freeway off-ramps have a lot to do with it) and how authorities have tried to put a dent in the trade.

Quote of the Week: “I’m sure that the people involved are going to feel like that’s none of your business.” — real-estate agent Lisa Kent McNulty, questioning our query about a big, partially completed Point Loma house that’s been under construction for years.


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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