When Charles Black talks, people build.

Black, a real estate attorney and developer, is managing the Convention Center’s proposed $753 million expansion and has been named the city’s top negotiator for the planned (but not yet final) $293 million City Hall project. Previously, he negotiated against the Convention Center, making his new job a bit of a switcheroo.

Black is also a veteran of major building projects and helped the Petco Park development come to life.

In this week’s Q&A feature, Black talks about the expected lifespan of the new City Hall (more than a century), the size of the proposed building (smaller than before) and how the city will pay for the Convention Center expansion (it’s not clear yet).

In other news:

• When Mayor Jerry Sanders supported the “strong mayor” measure on the June ballot, he said it wasn’t about him, even though he’ll benefit from continuing to have municipal superpowers.

Now, a new election analysis suggests that it was about him, at least partially. Neighborhoods that supported Sanders the most were also most likely to support the strong mayor system and vice versa.

Which neighborhoods liked Sanders the most and the least? Check our story to find out.

• The newest member of our staff certainly has a unique style: he refers to the folks of voiceofsandiego.org as “stiff-necked do-gooders who go urgently about the business of setting things right.”

You could say he has “A Way with Words.” And he does indeed: Grant Barrett, voiceofsandiego.org’s new engagement editor, is co-host of the weekly public radio show with that name that’s heard on KPBS-FM and stations across the country.

He’ll continue co-hosting the show while helping our site expand its reach and do a better job of helping people understand the issues that face our region.

As for that “stiff-necked do-gooders” crack: I’ll blame him if we start getting solicitations from every chiropractor in town. [Aren’t you already seeing one for your stiff prose, Randy? –Ed.]


• The U-T reports that a $1.99 iPhone app will give you all sorts of details about available parking in the city, including information about where your car has been towed if you still manage to park in the wrong space.

Speaking of parking, let my own sad and expensive car-towing tale be a lesson to you: don’t park where you don’t belong, even if it’s midnight and everything’s closed and the spot is just sitting there, beckoning. Not that I’m bitter.

And if you get a ticket, make sure to pay it and keep the cancelled check. Otherwise, it may come back to haunt you 19 years later, as a man we profiled last year discovered when he got a visit from the Ghost of Broken Headlights Past.


What We Learned This Week:

She’s No Shrinking Violet: San Diego’s new federal prosecutor is on the job. In her first interview since taking office, Laura Duffy talks about her priorities and her passion for seemingly lost causes, like going after notoriously violent drug lords.

Unusual Reform Planted at Burbank Elementary: The Logan Heights school is on the state’s bad list, and it’s agreed to change. Sort of. As we explain, the school is staying the course to an unusual extent.

Those Are Mighty (Expensive) Mice: UCSD wants to spend $14 million in federal stimulus funds on a building where the cages of research mice will be cleaned. Makes you wonder how much they spend to make sure the places where people live on campus get cleaned.

Missionaries, Gamblers and Opium Users: No, we’re not talking about the people I ran into last Saturday night. In a follow-up to last week’s Q&A feature about San Diego’s former Chinatown neighborhood, we take a closer look at life in downtown’s enclave for the Chinese and the wide variety of people who visited and called it home.


Fact Check-o-Rama:

We’ve caught D.A. Bonnie Dumanis making misstatements in the past. Now, she’s declared that the D.A’s office has doubled its real-estate fraud caseload. We’ve got a verdict on whether that’s actually true.

Also: The San Diego Library says it’s been circulating more items than ever before. It’s an interesting statistic considering that some folks wonder if the digital age will make libraries — like the big fancy one planned for downtown — obsolete. Is it true?


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to read over a cup of grande half caff cinnamon dolce with soy, light whip, extra hot):

Horsing Around with a Neigh-bor: Don’t call him a farrier. That’s too fancy for Ricky Price, the subject of this month’s People at Work profile, who makes his living — and flirts with danger — as a horseshoer in a county with as many as 400,000 equine residents. Don’t miss our audio slideshow, which gets to the sole of the matter. (OK, I’ll stop now.)

Up a Market Creek: Southeastern San Diego’s Market Creek Plaza shopping center was supposed to be a jewel of community revitalization. So why have almost all itsf locally owned businesses failed?

All Fall Down: Biotechs hit rough waters all the time, but Sequenom’s epic trip down the rapids was unusual. We track the lawsuits, investigations and firings left by a botched genetic test project.


Number of the Week: $98. That’s how much extra owners of single-family homes would pay each year if voters approve a proposed new tax to pay for smaller class sizes in San Diego schools.


Quote of the Week: “Listen to that nail. If the sound is hollow, and you’re not seeing it come out, you’re in trouble.” — Horseshoer Ricky Price on the intricacies of his job.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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