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When she got back home from covering the Iraq War, a local newspaper reporter began to feel down: “After writing about life and death struggles, stories I was assigned to do about zoning changes just didn’t seem important.”

Then she picked up a paintbrush. “Suddenly I could create stories so much more beautiful and poignant and nuanced than anything I could ever write. And I was saved.”

She’s still got a full-time job, but her art is making a difference in her life. Now, she’s ready to start telling you about the local art world from her unique perspective. Join Dani Dodge, our “Guide from the Inside,” at her new arts blog and check out how she sees things.

In Other News:

• We’ve gotten an early peek at Councilman Carl DeMaio’s recovery plan for the city, and it’s a humdinger: to cut retirement debts, it eliminates retiree health care for current employees, forcing employees to share pension investment risks and salary cuts and freezes. He thinks he can save $737 million over five years. We examine the feasibility of his ideas and will have more coverage of his plan today.

The U-T has coverage, too, in which DeMaio is quoted as saying, “We made pension reform our top priority because from a financial standpoint it is the biggest driver of our costs. […] If you don’t solve that, you’re a dead man walking, plain and simple.”

Keep in mind that most City Council members aren’t his allies. Proposing is one thing, passing is another.

• There’s been quite a lot of hubbub about where to put a winter homeless shelter, with vocal contributions from city leaders on the NIMCD (“not in my council district”) side of things. City Council President Ben Hueso didn’t like the idea of placing it in the Barrio Logan neighborhood and said its presence there in the past disrupted classes and caused shutdowns at a nearby elementary school.

CityBeat looked into the claim and found no evidence supporting it. As a result, San Diego Fact Check says the claim is false. However, CityBeat also reports that “this is not to say the school didn’t have problems when the shelter was nearby.”

• We hear once again from education historian Diane Ravitch, who we interviewed last summer. We asked her more questions as she visited town this week amid a local move toward a different type of reform.

• Also in education: Voters booted longtime school board member John de Beck on Election Day, and he tells us he wasn’t surprised, especially in light of a controversial vote. De Beck says he’s going to be even more outspoken: “I was hampered by being on the board. I had to be a company man. Now I can say what I feel like.” But will anyone listen?

• Even though only about 50 percent of San Diego school district voters supported a parcel tax, a consultant says supporters should be proud of themselves.

• The southeastern section of San Diego will get its own middle school. It’s the only neighborhood in the district without one.

• Nothing to see here, says a prominent local political consultant: “The bottom line is there’s no problem between me or anyone else in the campaign and labor,” he says in light of earlier sniping over the failed Prop. D. campaign.

• “General downward drift.” Is our real-estate columnist Rich Toscano writing about my love life again? Naw, he’s looking at the falling San Diego home prices in October. Why the decline? Because there’s a bunch of houses on the market.

• Fact Check TV has details on claims about high school graduates and Balboa Park.

Elsewhere:

• More than 4,000 people gathered to mourn San Diego police officer Christopher Wilson, who was shot to death last week. (U-T)

• In the NCT: “A skit on school violence by a Cal State San Marcos drama class Thursday was so convincing it sent students running from the building in terror.” Campus cops stormed a classroom with guns drawn before realizing there was no suspect.

• A shopping center company wants to demolish the department store at the front of the Horton Plaza shopping mall (the side facing Broadway) and give the space to the city for use as open space for big gatherings. (U-T)

• El Centro in Imperial County continues to have the country’s highest unemployment rate at 30.4 percent.

• Finally, in the wake of Prop. 19’s failure, Slate looks at WeedMaps, a website that “has become the primary online portal for the legal pot business in California. WeedMaps is often described as the Yelp for marijuana, but that undersells it. It’s more like Yelp, MenuPages, Craigslist, Groupon, Bloomberg, and the New York Times Dining section for pot.”

Here’s a thought to feast on: Sounds like it’s easier to use the Internet to find good weed than to locate a good restaurant. And you won’t need to pay extra for a to-go order.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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