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Big late news from North County last night: an attorney for the alleged bombmaker behind the “bomb factory” home in Escondido wants a federal judge to call off its scheduled burning, now scheduled for Thursday, the NCT reports.

Interstate 15 is set to be closed and hundreds of residents are preparing to be evacuated before authorities torch the explosive-laden home. But the attorney says the suspect needs to retrieve materials from the home to prepare his defense. 

A question: How might authorities allow someone to enter the home without risking an explosion? And would this be like letting an accused burglar wander around a home he’s accused of burgling? This might be a tough one for a judge to figure out. A hearing is scheduled today. 

Now to the other big local story: the power outage at City Hall. The mayor’s enforcer is out.

Just months after we described her as “the most powerful person in San Diego you know nothing about,” the mayor’s chief of staff is moving on to a new job.

Kris Michell — “the link, the linchpin, the consistent ingredient in San Diego’s civic extravaganzas over the last 15 years” — will run an advocacy group called the Downtown San Diego Partnership, but won’t be able to lobby the city for her new bosses for a year, a big limitation.

Michell avoided an interview for our big profile a few months ago, but she did agree to talk to reporter Liam Dillon now that she’s moving on. Among other things, she talked about her new job, her reasons for leaving a top job in the Mayor’s Office (a not-uncommon occurrence) and her replacement. 

Behind the Redactions:

What did the downtown redevelopment agency try to keep secret about a draft report regarding whether downtown is rundown? We uncover what they tried to keep covered. 

Also, our editor Andrew Donohue explains what’s really important behind the fuss over secrecy and public records: “Redevelopment is set up to fix up rundown neighborhoods. The draft study at the heart of his story finds that there is blight but doesn’t yet back it up. And the Legislature extended the life of downtown redevelopment without even knowing if it fit the definition of a neighborhood that justified further redevelopment.”

All Together Now:

Judging by its inauguration ceremonies, the City Council wants to bring itself together in a show of unity. It voted unanimously to appoint Councilman Tony Young to be its president, giving him power to set the council’s agenda, among other things. He promises to spend plenty of time discussing the city’s $70-million-plus deficit. 

We were on hand in Young’s council district when a farmers market opened in southeastern San Diego. It took a while for a non-profit group to get it up and running since there are unique challenges: for one thing, residents aren’t clamoring for expensive organic foods like in the city’s wealthier neighborhoods, meaning farmers require some extra wooing to make the trip to sell their food. 

In the big picture, the farmers market represents an attempt to bring healthier food to a part of town where supermarkets %mdash; let alone Salvadoran pupusas — are hard to find.

The View from L.A.:

Are politicians a powerful voice in San Diego when it comes to telling people how to vote? The results of the November election suggest the answer may be no: voters refused to go along with a big coalition of city leaders and raise sales taxes.

But L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers, who suspects the Chargers will be L.A.-bound, thinks the answer may be yes. He says a stadium ballot measure here faces tough odds: “If local politicians don’t line up strongly behind such a ballot measure, there would be little incentive for the Chargers to spend money on campaigning for such a losing measure.”


Boom Town: 

The fire experts are hoping nothing goes boom in Escondido when the “bomb factory” goes up in smoke. San Diego County hasn’t been so fortunate in the past: we’ve encountered explosions, bombings and at least a couple reputation-damaging bomb scares. We tell the tales of a Navy disaster in the harbor, a 1989 bombing that set locals on edge, and the mother of all poorly executed publicity stunts.

Don’t Drink Before Dancing:

When she’s not practicing for The Nutcracker in Pacific Beach %mdash; twirling, prancing, soaring, plunging — a 24-year-old local ballerina brandishes beers at an Encinitas ale house. We follow her through her routine and learn how she’s using her job to gain strength.    


Editorial cartoonists love stereotypes: I used to know one who drew every gay guy as both blond and buffed. (He’d obviously never been to a leather bar.) Now, CityBeat rips the U-T’s cartoonist Steve Breen for stereotyping medical marijuana collectives as being full of bearded hippies. Medi-pot users are actually “more Cypress Hill than Grateful Dead,” the paper says, adding details about a Normal Heights collective’s toy drive. But in photos, a guy from the collective looks a lot like Breen’s feverish imaginings.      

Take That, Iowa!

Finally: I’ve often thought of San Diego as a kind of Des Moines by the sea: plainer and less brainy than other parts of the state.  (I’m a native, so the law — the one I just made up &mdsah; allows me to say these kinds of rude things.)

Now a new report from the magazine Portfolio backs me up with its list of the 200 “Brainiest Bastions. It says San Francisco-Oakland (No. 10) is smarter than San Diego, which ranks in 33rd place. And guess who’s two slots below us at 35th? Des Moines. 

Actually, Iowa’s not too bad, as I discovered during a visit a few years ago. It’s the home of the “pie shake.” Just like us — hello, “fish taco” — it’s managed to mix two of the greatest things in the world. 

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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