Unlike other cities, San Diego doesn’t charge residents for trash collection from single-family homes. Lately, City Hall types have been wondering how to get that costly (and stinky) albatross off their back.

Yesterday, the city attorney unveiled a plan to put a measure on the ballot in November that would privatize trash pickup — getting the city out of the garbage business — and make residents pay.

This wouldn’t be the same as repealing the law passed in 1919 and then charging people a fee. Why not do that? “There might be more support from people who like outsourcing if you privatize it,” reporter Liam Dillon tells me. “And there may be concern about overturning the People’s Ordinance because it’s called the People’s Ordinance.”

In related City Hall news: Mayor Jerry Sanders talked to us yesterday about the failed sales tax increase proposal, saying it fell apart after two months of talks with labor and business leaders.

In other news:

• A few months ago, a panel of judges described the poems of UCSD professor Rae Armantrout as “thought bombs” — explosive observations that linger in the mind.

They were important judges: they gave Armantrout a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry.

In this week’s Q&A feature, the Normal Heights resident talks about words as tricksters, her close call with death, and the nettlesome problem of poetry phobia. She also delves into one of her naughtiest poems.

County unemployment is up to 10.5 percent. Meanwhile, an economist’s report says the county’s recovery has been sluggish, although the dreaded double-dip recession may not be on the horizon.

• There’s been a lot of debate lately about a proposal to build a homeless services center in downtown. Not surprisingly, some nearby merchants don’t want it in their neighborhood. Two business owners said it would include a beauty salon.

Is that true? Our verdict: Barely. While the merchants did have reason to believe there will be a “personal care center” there, such a facility would only offer basic grooming.

Why does this matter? Because a “beauty salon” sounds like a place where homeless people would get perms and mani-pedis. That image, in turn, could affect the debate over the center by making it sound luxurious.

Also this week, we fact-checked the district attorney again and checked out what it would take to bring an outdoor pro soccer team here.

• The graphs provided by our real-estate columnist/resident number-cruncher Rich Toscano are like a Rorschach test. I see a pony! Rich’s new charts explain how the local housing inventory keeps going up.

• In images, the San Diego People Project meets the owner of Ocean Beach Hardware, which supplies paint to the woman we photo-profiled last week.

• The latest edition of our San Diego Explained video series is a look at the North Embarcadero area and how its future will affect how San Diego’s appearance.

• A correction to yesterday’s Morning Report: The big Normal Heights fire was in 1985, not 1995. Since I watched it from the stadium that day, I may have been subconsciously trying not to feel ancient.


• The other day, the head of a local conservative political organization spoke out against a proposed sales tax and referred to labor unions as “drug addicts, and our tax dollars are their drug of choice.” He also described an anti-tax press conference as an “intervention.”

This didn’t go over well. The head of the city firefighters union wants an apology. (CB)

• Finally, the Wall Street Journal gives a rave review to two of the summer outdoor plays at the Old Globe Theater — “King Lear” and “The Madness of King George III.”

Sounds like the Old Globe is sticking with a monarch theme. Maybe there’s still hope for my play about the time Billie Jean King went to Burger King! [A little tightly strung this morning, Randy? –Ed.]


What We Learned This Week: The news was all about sending messages. Here are a few that got transmitted, for better or worse.

Just Say No to Millions of Dollars: As we first reported, county bureaucrats declined to go after millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding that would have funded jobs for unemployed poor people.

The county says it had unanswered questions, and the timing was wrong. Critics, aware of the county’s inability to fully provide social services to the poor, have called foul.

Just Say No to Democracy: A coalition of local folks upset with the quality of San Diego schools should become more high profile soon. It’s hired a consultant and, sources tell us, a PR firm. It has an extraordinary idea: expand the school board by four new members, but leave voters out of the loop.

Just Say Yes to Taxes: San Diego schools will ask voters in November to raise local property taxes — by a certain amount per kind of property — to support education.


The Coffee Collection (well-written stories to savor over that extra coffee decaf caramel frappuccino with two percent milk):

Here Today, Gone Today: The mayor’s secretive sales tax hike proposal was barely around for a nanosecond — at least publicly — before it went kablooie. We tell the story of this grand collapse.

Brains for Hire: They’ve Ph.D.s and plenty of experience in top jobs, but many of San Diego’s refugees are still looking for work.


Number of the Week: Three. That’s how many county supervisors changed their minds about spending $100,000 to put an anti-union measure on the ballot. (They previously opposed the move, but now support it and made it so this week.)

By the way, we fact-checked a statement about the measure earlier this week.


Quote of the Week: “Most parents think their school is fine and everyone else is jacked up.” — San Diego parent leader David Page on why more parents don’t pull their kids out of their schools.


Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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