It’s said that San Diego is the refugee capital of the United States: some 4,100 refugees came to the county last year, many fleeing political repression and physical threats back home.

Some enter the country equipped with advanced degrees and experience in professional careers. Then what?

Our story tells the tale of several local refugees who are trying to find work in the fields they left behind. They face huge obstacles from language barriers to a tight job market in which even experienced American professionals can’t find jobs. Read the story and view the slideshow.

In other news:

• How should the city of San Diego fix its financial mess? Here’s an idea: get residents to pay for trash pickup.

The city attorney says he’s working on a legal position that would explain how the city can raise $34 million a year by privatizing trash collection. He says it can be done without repealing a 90-year-old city law that guarantees single-family homes don’t need to pay for trash collection.

In another city finances news: Four business leaders are saying the best way to fix things is to cut labor costs.

In other words: spend less on city workers. As for finding a way to bring more money into the city, one says the solution is “reform before revenue.”

Meanwhile, commenters are going at it over what the city should do. A city worker reports paying more than $200 a month for health insurance for one person and a child and says city employees “cannot take another hit.”

• As we’ve reported this week, the county refused to go after millions of dollars in federal funding to help poor people get jobs. Critics, including some who held a protest yesterday, have called the decision an example of the county’s disregard of its responsibilities to the poor. (We documented that problem earlier this year.)

The county, apparently stung by our reporting, is fighting back with a new statement about why it said no to the money. It reiterates what the county told us earlier.

• In education, more than 60 local schools have been sent to the principal’s office: they’re on a state list of troubled schools. The designation allows their students to enroll elsewhere.

• Abuse of the prescription painkiller OxyContin has gotten plenty of media attention in the last few years, and local authorities put together a task force to figure out what to do about the problem here. But there are other prescription drugs out there on the black market, and some are killers too. Now, the task force has a new name to reflect a wider focus.

Speaking of OxyContin, D.A. Bonnie Dumanis recently declared that it causes more drug-related deaths in the county than any other. That’s quite a statement considering the other dangerous drugs out there.

So is OxyContin the top killer? Our Fact Check verdict is: false. Dumanis was wrong. To her office’s credit, a spokesman has fessed up to the error.

Why does it matter? Because any excessive focus on OxyContin would take away from attention to other prescription drug abuse.

• Our Fact Check department is feeling a bit sporty: it looks into a claim that someone would need to put up about $30 million to create an outdoor pro soccer team. (San Diego doesn’t have one.) Is it true? Well … mostly.


• The sight of smoke, flames and fire-fighting aircraft on a southern Mission Valley hillside yesterday had special resonance for Normal Heights residents. While firefighters quickly put out the 30-acre blaze, they weren’t so fortunate 25 years and two weeks ago, when the Normal Heights fire — the worst in the city up to that time — destroyed 76 homes and damaged 57 more. Fans at a Padres game that afternoon — including me — watched in amazement as homes burned.

• “The Vatican on Thursday issued new internal rules making it easier to discipline priests who have sexually abused minors,” the NYT reports. As we reported earlier this year, the Catholic sex abuse scandal in the San Diego region, which cost the local diocese $198 million, may not be over.

The two sex-abuse lawsuits profiled in the article were promptly settled after the story came out, but more suits about alleged long-ago abuse by local priests remain in the legal pipeline, and the pending release of priest personnel files could reignite the whole scandal.

• The U-T — well, technically, its new creation, “The Watchdog” — reports that a state-official-turned-SDG&E-official may not have waited long enough to begin pressuring the state to support SDG&E’s giant transmission line project. He may have done so 10 months after leaving the state job, not the generally required 12 months.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is miffed; a governor’s spokeswoman says she’s being “reckless.”

• The Wild Animal Park is changing its name to Safari Park, but hundreds of locals think it’s an absolutely awful idea. My proposed name — “Sweet Heavens, Don’t Take the Monorail When It’s 110 Degrees Outside Park” — didn’t fly. (NCT)

• Finally, San Diego’s dog parks have gone to the dogs — too many dogs. The city is considering limiting the number of pooches per person per park (at any one time) to three.

It may also become illegal to bring a canine in heat to one of the parks. The dogs must surely wonder why there’s no such rule for humans in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Normal Heights fire was 15 years ago. It was, in fact, 25 years ago.


Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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