When he appeared in an influential 1984 book about San Diego’s police force, Tim Smith stayed hidden behind a pseudonym. Now, he is a retired cop and writing his own book about the SDPD.

In this weekend’s Q&A, Smith gives us a sneak preview about what he’s found out. He says community policing is history, and so is Mayor (and former police chief) Jerry Sander’s positive reputation among the men and women on the front lines.

Wait, community policing — a philosophy San Diego is famous for innovating — is history? Yes, says Smith, who thinks it was never fully implemented in the first place. “I do think there’s still an expectation that you need to be prepared to speak community policing, speak the jargon in interviews, if you want to get promoted,” he says, “but I think that’s kind of a dinosaur remnant.

In other news:

  • We have some breaking news: the federal government has charged a Northern California man in the “staggering swindle” that we revealed in an investigative report a year ago.

    As we report, James Delbert McConville has  been charged “with conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering in relation with a string of real estate purchases made using other people’s identities in San Diego County and elsewhere in California.”

    At last check, he’s still at large.

  • Think about the reasons you might get a loan at the bank: To buy a house. To buy a car. To launch a business.

    Think about the things you don’t usually take out a big loan for: The cable bill. The Netflix subscription. Your kid’s new pair of shoes. (OK, scratch that: maybe you do need a loan for that one.)

    The point is that big loans are for big purchases, not day-to-day stuff. And if you start putting those kinds of things on your credit card on a regular basis, you’re cruising for a financial bruising. Eventually, you’ll have to make more money, get by with less, or go under.

    Replace “you” with “the city of San Diego” and you’ll understand what Scott Lewis is getting at in his exploration of the city’s approach to routine street repairs. It borrows money to pay for them.

    That’s not working too well, as our story showed this week. (More on that below.) Lewis thinks it’s time to consider a more responsible and realistic approach.

  • The Photos of the Day are hooked on cracks — and potholes, chasms, and the all other hazards that make San Diego streets such an non-joy to drive. We found a bunch, and boy, are they gnarly.


  • A gripping drama of heartache and misery played out on live television yesterday  afternoon as the parents of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King faced the man who murdered their teen daughters.

    The courtroom “was packed with family members, investigators and reporters — many of whom had tears in their eyes,” the LAT reported.

    Amid the agony was a surprising note: The LAT says Chelsea’s father slammed John Albert Gardner III’s mother, a psychiatric nurse, “for not turning her son into authorities after Dubois disappeared.”

    Gardner was sentenced to life in prison. There will be no parole.

    The U-T and NCT have extensive coverage.

  • Councilwoman Sherri Lightner has found private money for a park ranger to patrol the Children’s Pool beach in La Jolla and keep an eye on the seals. (U-T)

What We’ve Learned This Week:

Hundreds of Miles of Bad Road: Our analysis finds that San Diego streets are deteriorating and will keep getting worse because there doesn’t seem to be any way for the city to catch up on repairs. In fact, the city hasn’t kept its promises regarding repairs to the city’s 2,800 miles of road.

There’s No Free. . . Grant: Local schools are becoming more reliant on grant money to pay for things — like new workout equipment at Point Loma High — that budgets can’t fund. But there are reasons to be cautious about the idea of grants as the ultimate fix-it solution.

Nice Try, San Diego State: As SDSU cracks down on the number of applicants it accepts, community colleges and activists are spreading the word: No doesn’t always mean no. Those who get rejected can appeal and, in some cases, actually get in.

Putting a Scare into Caregivers and Patients: Pending budget cutbacks are frightening disabled and elderly people who can only live in their own homes because government-funded caregivers provide assistance.

Razing Arizona: The San Diego school board is not the least bit pleased about the Grand Canyon’s taste in immigration law.

To Tell the Truth (or Not): Our fact checkers were on duty and discovered that a school board member and county supervisor candidate is telling the truth. One county supervisor, however, is not, while another is.

The Coffee Collection: Well-written stories to appreciate over a cup of cappuccino:

The Weatherman Who’s Full of Hot Air: K-Uuuuuuuu-SI’s John Coleman is one of the leading local critics of global warming. But, as our story reveals, his statements are full of mistruths: his “narrative is distorted, riddled with holes, falsehoods and slivers of data that skew reality.”

Goosed and Going, Going, Gone: Just drop by the courthouse steps and you can bid on a foreclosed house. It seems “very primitive,” we’re told. No kidding

Number of the Week: 1,875. That’s how many registered nude entertainers are in San Diego. No word about how many are in pole position.

Quote of the Week: “Very few people actually go down to council meetings. It’s the same people over and over and it’s certain groups.” — Mayor Jerry Sanders, on why he likes to avoid City Council meetings. It’s part of his pitch for keeping a strong-mayor form of government in which he’s more CEO — and more out and about — than a glorified councilmember. 


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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