San Diego City Councilman Tony Young, who represents the southeastern part of the city, has never had much patience for people who reflexively question construction plans, and their developers. It’s a luxury, he’s always told me, his part of town couldn’t afford.

Bring your stores, your home-building desires, your blueprints and, most of all, your capital, and he’ll try to help you.

Unless you’re Walmart hoping to build a Supercenter.

Adrian Florido explains how a divisive debate about Walmart has Young and his developer-friendly philosophy in a pickle. The majority of the City Council, prodded by labor leaders, pushed through an ordinance that would require particularly large big box stores, which sell groceries, to prove they’ll have no negative impacts on nearby businesses. It’s hard for a business to prove it won’t hurt others with whom it competes so the measure could be a de facto ban on Supercenters.

The mayor vetoed the ordinance and now we’re set for a final showdown. Young voted for it but he’s facing pressure from prominent local religious leaders who say the district needs Walmart’s low prices and its jobs.

Even Walmart’s food’s too costly for some: And that’s when charities and welfare are supposed to kick in. But in 2005, the Union-Tribune ran a flurry of stories uncovering ugly profiteering and at the nonprofit San Diego Food Bank.

The stories nearly destroyed the organization. Friday, the investigative reporter who did that work, Jeff McDonald, checked in with the agency and finds that it has undergone “a near-complete makeover” orchestrated by Mitch Mitchell, the longtime San Diego insider. It’s going so well that the Union-Tribune itself is spearheading a new donation drive.

Kudos to McDonald and Mitchell. It’s a nice example of how investigative journalism, followed by civic leadership, can improve the community.

Not lowering expectations: U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents much of North County in Congress, was a major star of the national press this weekend as he gleefully returned to D.C. as the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, the primary investigative arm of the House with the power to probe all avenues of federal spending (and provoke headlines doing it).

The New York Times put him on the front page. But the website The Daily Beast also featured him. (Guess which outlet got an interview with Issa? Hint: Issa must not be pleased with the Times these days.)

Issa in his own piece in the Washington Times is promising big things. As the Beast puts it, Issa and his powers will be mobilized to support his party’s legislative agenda. “As Republicans set out to prove that Obama’s spending is out of control, there’s no better tactic than to expose horror stories of appalling waste.” The U-T noted Issa’s “unique perch” earlier this month and urged him not to overreach.

The Times says the Postal Service, Medicare and the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which collect billions in subsidies from the government, are in Issa’s sights. But those billions to the mortgage agencies are supposedly crucial to propping up the housing market. I don’t doubt his fury, but I’m taking bets he stops before letting laissez-faire principles aid the housing market in its continuing correction.

Yes, I’m still obsessed about the housing market: And I talked about it in a special edition of KPBS’s Editor’s Roundtable Friday.

In a separate segment of the show, we talked about how governments are dealing with the economic crisis. I believe places like the city of San Diego are dissolving. I tried to explain what I mean during the show (and here’s more on it if you’re interested). Tom Fudge, who hosted the show in Gloria Penner’s place, was inspired to write a response.

You should also subscribe to the VOSD weekly podcast, which KOGO AM 600 actually produces and broadcasts for us every Saturday at 7:30 a.m. The latest show, wherein Andrew Donohue and I explain what we’re thankful for and give out our Hero and Goat of the Week, is downloadable here.

I digress: This New York Times story about Google and an e-commerce troll from hell is not really related to San Diego. But I’m asking you to read it. If you do read it and are equally stunned by its implications for search engine optimization, you can progress to this followup.

Back to San Diego: The Times also profiled SDG&E’s effort to build the Sunrise Powerlink. “In what may be a dress rehearsal for skirmishes across the country over renewable energy and transmission, San Diego Gas & Electric has spent seven years and $100 million trying to start work on a 117-mile high-voltage line to reach the resources of El Centro.”

And yet more to be proud of in California: The Wall Street Journal features a photo of a San Diego prison to illustrate a story about overcrowding in the state prison system.

Retain me! The U-T reports that the man who put winning in the same sentence as San Diego State football may be in for a payday soon. Hot off the heels of news that Brady Hoke, SDSU’s football coach, listened to overtures from the University of Minnesota, the newspaper reports that SDSU may be preparing a “retention package” for Hoke.

It’s hard to fathom how much more the university would be willing to pay the coach, considering he already makes $700,000 a year. Payment may come in tools to make the program more prestigious.

Finally, History Man: Randy Dotinga looks back 150 years ago this month when San Diego voters weighed in on the 1860 presidential contest. Turns out they weren’t so fond of the lanky lawyer named Lincoln who had surprised the country and became the nominee of the new Republican Party. The ranchers that dominated San Diego’s small political landscape were fans of slavery.

Now, of course, local conservatives are quite proud of Lincoln. They even named a political group after him: the Lincoln Club, which had one of its most successful election rounds recently. The U-T says, though, that a successful lawsuit has made it hard to figure out where the Lincoln Club and other political players in town get their money.

Seems like we could use a thoughtful lawyer like Lincoln to craft a compromise between the need for public disclosure and the tension of campaign finance regulations with freedom of speech principles. Considering what President Lincoln had to deal with, that should be rather simple, no?

Ha! Not so much.

You can contact me directly at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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