Who’s Laura Duffy, San Diego’s new U.S. attorney, the woman in charge of federal prosecutions here? Our story, featuring Duffy’s first interview since being sworn in, provides a detailed picture of where she’s been and where she plans to take her department.

She’s popular among her staff, many of whom say she’s “one of us,” although she may need to work on improving relations with the Border Patrol’s rank-and-file. She’s apparently only the second openly lesbian U.S. attorney (and the only legally married one). And she has some changes in store: Duffy says she’ll “reestablish major fraud cases — particularly financial crimes involving health care, banking and mortgages — as her third-highest priority under national security and border crimes.”

In other news:

• The fancy word for what Ricky Price does is “farrier,” but he doesn’t have patience for that kind of thing. Price is a horseshoer, he says with a Southern twang, and he loves what he does.

“Knock on wood,” he tells us while on the job in East County. “I’ve never woke up saying I don’t want to go to work.”

A horseshoer in San Diego? Well, it helps that there probably are more horses in the county than human beings in Escondido and Oceanside combined.

In the latest edition of our “People at Work” series, we take look at Price on the job and ponder the reasons why horses get shoed, the challenges of shoeing them, and the serious risks that horseshoers face.

• In the education business, it’s basically the nuclear option: closing a school because it’s failed to do a good job. Here in San Diego, the school district has been thinking about extinguishing Barrio Logan’s tiny and troubled King-Chavez Arts Academy.

But the school may get a stay of execution, at least for a while: the district is considering whether to allow it to stay open if it makes a variety of changes and agrees to shut itself down in three years if test scores don’t meet goals.

• Leave it to our resident curmudgeonly columnist Rich Toscano to rain on yet another parade. (Alert: Don’t let him near Pasadena on New Year’s Day!)

A few years ago, he warned that the housing boom would bust. It did, and cautious-minded non-buyers got to go to their happy place (it’s called Gloat City). Now, he’s out with a new home price analysis that hints at an iceberg, dead ahead, lurking in the path of those who’d like to see local home prices keep going up and up and up.

I asked Toscano how bad things might get. “It might be that prices stop rising or even start falling again, but that’s not really the same as drowning and/or having to listen to Leonardo DiCaprio yammer on.”

So “Titanic” territory it ain’t. At least not yet.


• Gail Goldberg, San Diego’s former planning director, is retiring from her job as L.A.’s planning director, the LAT reports: “In recent months she has appeared more actively restless in the position — and more weighed down by the sometimes petty demands of leading a huge bureaucracy under a mayor whose commitment to forward-thinking, transit-centered planning has been wavering at best.”

• The LAT also looks at the battle (which has seemingly lasted forever) over the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill in remote North County, a fight that pits proponents against an Indian tribe. After decades, “The dispute may be in its final phases, and both sides are expressing confidence.”

• In the U-T: “Five local water agencies have launched a public salvo at the San Diego County Water Authority — an unusual move in the normally collegial ranks. They accuse the wholesaler of not doing enough to cut expenses while retail water sellers and ratepayers are struggling to make ends meet.”

• A local building that most of us hope to never visit (unless we work there) has been named the most beautiful of its kind in the United States.

No, it’s not City Hall. Or the jail. It’s San Diego’s Sharp Memorial Hospital. More than 10,000 people voted in a health-care company’s survey and named it the most beautiful hospital in the country.

Not everyone’s a fan of the Kearny Mesa hospital building. It’s been nominated to get an onion from the San Diego Architectural Foundation, with a non-fan calling it “a glass and metal monstrosity, a visual blight. Massive box with very little articulation, a ‘bully’ of a building.”

• Speaking of buildings, the NYT just ran a story about a writer’s unsuccessful mission to find the Big Apple diner that inspired the famous Edward Hopper painting “Nighthawks.” Through a roundabout way, the story reminded me of a page on the Save Our Heritage Organisation’s website that offers photos of San Diego’s “lost buildings” — memorable works of architecture that no longer exist.

My favorite is the fantastic Point Loma Universal Brotherhood & Theosophical Society Homestead, which looks like it came out of some “Star Trek” scene from the future. Fire burned down the buildings in 1952.

The Normal School, which gave Normal Heights its name, is pretty amazing too.

“Normal school,” by the way, is an old-fashioned word for a school that trains teachers. It is not a commentary on the students at the school or, for that matter, the residents of Normal Heights.

And since I live there, it wouldn’t be very accurate anyway, although “Abnormal Heights” would be a really cool neighborhood name. Unless Ocean Beach already has dibs on it.


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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