In a community where non-profit groups often struggle and collapse, a woman named Virginia Angeles vowed to stop the cycle when a tenant rights organization ran out of money.

“When the program ended, we said, programs can’t come and go. We can’t have a program that ends after three years, leaving families vulnerable again,” she tells us in this week’s Q&A feature.

Now, the organization is alive once again, helping City Heights residents understand their rights not only as tenants but as residents with health care, education and employment needs.


• What is City Council candidate Lorie Zapf’s job? It beats CityBeat: “On the campaign trail — and on the ballot — Zapf describes herself as a legal advocate and a small-business owner. However, it is unclear what happened to her small business and what, exactly, she now does for a living.”

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• In a story datelined San Diego, the NYT examines fire department cutbacks across the country and talks to the uncle of the two-year-old boy who choked to death on a gum ball amid a delayed response from San Diego emergency crews.

The uncle said the boy’s mother fainted the day after her son’s death after taking a citizenship oath and getting a certificate. The boy’s father has come to the U.S. from Vietnam to grieve and attends a temple every day.

“We’re not blaming the city or blaming the Fire Department,” the uncle tells the NYT, “but the reason I speak out is because I want them to do a better job for other people.”

• A young newspaper reporter wandered the San Diego waterfront for years in the 1920s, interviewing the sailors, ship captains and celebrities who came and went. His 1932 book of harborside vignettes became a national bestseller.

Does “I Cover the Waterfront” still hold up as a readable book today? Check my KPBS blog post for the answer and a few some tidbits for your Some Things Never Change file.

• Finally, a 1960s-era Hilltop High School yearbook is on sale on eBay for $500 because it comes with a student photo of rock singer Tom Waits, the Chula Vista school’s most well-known alum (present company excluded).

You can pick up my Hilltop High yearbooks for just $499 each. Such a deal!


What We Learned This Week:

Watching the Detectives: The San Diego Police homicide squad is on a roll: thanks to advances in technology and a steep drop in murders, there were more solved cases last year than new ones.

The Truth Behind a Stereotype: You may think Asian-American kids are brainiacs, and it’s true that many do quite well in school. But test scores show that there are major differences between Asian-American subgroups.

Go Team Teacher!: San Diego school leaders touted their new reform plan, which focuses on encouraging teachers to find new ways of doing things on their own.

Hope He Brought Back Some Hotdish: Our editor went to Minnesota and returned with a great idea for our town: Rent-a-bike kiosks. His post sparked a wide-ranging discussion of what San Diego can learn from other cities.

The Civic Center Ain’t Finished ’Til the Fat Lady Sings: If you think the current plans for a new City Hall are overblown, check these from 112 years ago. They were positively operatic: a proposed San Diego City Hall complex included a courthouse, post office and, yes, opera house. We checked out visions of City Hall glory, both past and present.


You’ve Got “Facts,” We’ve Got Checks: We pored over murky crime stats and found a school board campaign claim to be “barely true.”


The Coffee Collection (stories to enjoy over a cup of coffee, black, from a mislabeled restaurant pot of decaf):

Back to Lincoln Acres: We keep coming back to this tiny South Bay community that’s full of fascinating people and stories. This time, we drop by a bar-turned-Mexican restaurant and find some neighbors are pleased, sort of.

Rounding Third, but Where’s Home Plate? Third grade is supposed to be when kids learn to read and then use reading to learn new things. Not anymore. Now, schools are scrambling to meet new challenges.

Flavor Fave: Meet the 67-year-old man who sells shaved ice on the streets of San Diego.


Quote of the Week: San Diego “is far ahead of most cities of its class in its recognition of the mistakes of the past and its appreciation of the opportunities of the present.” — a 1908 report about the future of San Diego.


Randy Dotinga

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

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