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Earlier this week, we noticed a strange job posting from the Union Tribune. The newspaper was looking for “junior” writers who would punch out stories with a “low level of complexity, analysis and narrative.” And then we heard the news that the paper was laying off 35 newsroom employees — some of whose names we’d seen for many many years.
The U-T is a major institution in town, with influence in every sector. What happens to it is, itself, news. In the old U-T, we would have gotten some recycled statement from the public relations manager.
But when reporter Rob Davis called the new U-T editor, Jeff Light, for comment, Light invited him to come in and chat.
Here’s the Q&A that came out of that. Light talks about his inability to foresee the layoffs the last time he and Davis talked. And how the “governor” of how many stories the newsroom produces will no longer be how much the paper itself can hold — a reflection of his respect for the web.
In other news:
• This week Liam Dillon explored the risk boosters of the construction of the new main library downtown were hoping City Hall would take. They call it a “leap of faith.” But the city could be on the hook if the jump comes up short. There’s a $32.5 million gap in their fundraising for the project but they are pushing for construction to begin anyway and they say it’s normal for a nonprofit to start on a major project without all of the funds in place. I explained later why I thought they shouldn’t be surprised when many of us find that less than reassuring.
Now, Dillon reports on his conversations with professionals in the nonprofit world and whether they think boosters’ goals realistic.
• As you know, each week we also do a Q&A with a San Diegan for our weekend edition. And this week we featured 81-year-old Carlsbad butcher John Haedrich, who figures he’s probably eaten 21,000 pounds of meat in his life. He’s watched much of his industry has gone commercial and industrial. But he’s also seeing record sales.
• For decades, in Hillcrest, Pernicano’s restaurant and the lot next to it have sat abandoned. It’s more than just annoying to neighboring businesses and developers have lusted over it. But there has been movement and in a unique way, Adrian Florido and Sam Hodgson captured the “miracle on 6th Avenue” unlike any press conference story I’ve seen in a while.
• The homeless population in San Diego has gone up nearly 8 percent from 2009, according to the latest assessment of the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness.
What We Learned This Week
How a Crucial Decision Was Made: While politicians focus on new laws after the deaths of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, we wanted to find out as much as we could about why the attack on a third victim, Candice Moncayo, was classified an attempted robbery. The neighborhood wasn’t alerted that a man trying to rape a jogger was on the loose. But when John Gardner was charged with the crimes, he admitted to an attempted rape. What happened? Here’s what we found.
There’s a Storm Coming: It’s been a long time since two members of the San Diego City Council have gotten into a public argument as fiery as the one KPBS hosted a couple of days ago. Carl DeMaio and Marti Emerald wrangled over DeMaio’s ballot initiative, a measure he says would fulfill the promise the city made to put up services for bid and potentially save millions. But even though it hasn’t made the ballot yet, and even though voters wouldn’t see that ballot until November, opponents to it have already begun mobilizing. DeMaio refuses to say whether the proposition would eliminate the city’s living wage ordinance.
If this week was any indication, this could be one of the most polarizing debates San Diego’s seen in a long time.
The Kids Are Alright: Once again, we hosted a successful high-school essay contest. The winner of the $2,500 scholarship was Amy Cao, a junior at La Jolla High School. You can read the finalists here, all of them and their teachers and parents should be proud of their prose and research abilities: Kellen Blumberg, Kathryn Mogk, Alexandra Abbott and Taylor Winchell.
And a special thanks to Bob, Karen and Heather Bowden for sponsoring this year’s essay contest.
When in Doubt, Form a Nonprofit: For nearly a year, managers of the county of San Diego’s pension fund have been trying to figure out a way to pay their investment team more than their government rules will allow. The latest idea is to form a nonprofit organization that would contract with the county. But there are at least two hurdles in the way.
We Need You: We may not have learned that this week, but you might have after this beachy illustration. We depend on your donations to keep this service going. You can contribute online now or you can mail a check to: voiceofsandiego.org, 2508 Historic Decatur RD. STE 120, San Diego, 92106.
The Coffee Collection
The Politics of Sand: The last time Imperial Beach had replenishment sand dumped near its shore, rocks, rods and other debris washed up. With another project planned, environmentalists worry it’ll happen again — and say they’ve been shut out of the process.
Nothing Like a Recession to Help Your Industry: During the downturn, jobs remained steady in San Diego’s life science industry. It’s because of people like Sridhar Prasad, who became his own boss after being laid off.
Quote of the Week: “All the components that were in the original package are still there, they’re just different.” Darren Greenhalgh, the city’s deputy director of engineering and capital projects, on how he fit the schoobrary into its price tag.
— SCOTT LEWIS