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Before the mayor makes a decision about city financial reform, he makes sure to run it through a kitchen cabinet of sorts. Whatever he’s got cooking, the mayor wants to make sure one man in particular likes his recipe.

That man is Vince Mudd, owner of an office interior firm. He’s not elected to anything and doesn’t live in the city. But he still holds plenty of influence: both the mayor and the City Council seem to listen to him and his group. Now, the mayoral advisers will soon release another report on where the city should go from here.

In this week’s Q&A, Mudd talks bluntly about drafting a pending financial plan while leaving liberal-leaning councilmembers out of the loop: “What happens in San Diego is everyone that comes up with an idea gets beat to a pulp. Then the idea never goes anywhere. Why in the world do we want to do that to ourselves again?”

San Diego in National Spotlight:

• The mayor’s plan to get rid of pensions for some new city employees and replace them with a 401(k)-type plan is getting mixed reviews from national media.

Meanwhile, a legal blog digs into the Watchdog Institute’s report about seemingly sky-high city legal fees for outside lawyers.

Accused Teacher Loses Bid to Return:

“A Superior Court judge ruled last week that a San Diego teacher who was first convicted of child molestation, then freed after his convictions were overturned, is still ‘unfit to teach,’” education reporter Emily Alpert writes. That means the school district has legal backing to sack the teacher, who wants his job back.


Join thousands of San Diegans who get the day’s news in their inboxes every morning. Get the Morning Report now.

Also in education, local school officials are still trying to figure out what to do about a big loss in state funds for certain services for disabled kids.

Chart Chat:

He may have a few rough edges, but real-estate columnist Rich Toscano’s still managed to perfectly align the six — six! — charts in his new post about November’s local home price numbers. He reports that prices held their own, but inventory remains fairly high, and rising interest rates are a new worry for those who hope the housing market will perk up.

Toscano has no information on home prices in Whoville, where the Grinch has been driving down property values for decades now.

A Dogged Artist:

Arts blogger Dani Dodge introduces us to a Bay Park artist who finds luscious ways to depict dogs on miniature canvases with oil paint. “Seeing them just made me happy,” writes Dodge of the paintings of Dan Adams, who never took an art class. “If I took a class, they would tell me everything I’m doing wrong,” he says.

The Photos of the Day take a closer look at Adams, his workspace and a pooch.

Hippy Hippy Mistake?

The other day, CityBeat dinged the U-T’s editorial cartoonist for stereotyping medi-pot folks as big long-haired hippie types. I thought it was pretty amusing that a local dispensary guy shown in photos with the story looks like a big long-haired hippie himself.

No way, a CityBeat reporter told me yesterday. “The guy’s totally gangster-chic rap-metal, not a hippie at all.”

Consider me dazed and confused.

•••

What We’ve Learned This Week:

Secrets Upon Secrets:

With the state legislature’s help, downtown’s redevelopment agency may have avoided having to fight for its life by proving that downtown is still rundown. That sure was handy. But before all that went down, the agency did hire a firm to compile a report on downtown’s (alleged) dumpiness.

We got a copy of an early draft of the report after a lot of effort. Funny thing: it says downtown is blighted, but left the space for examples blank. They were to come later. So: did the verdict come before the evidence?

It Burns! It Burns!: The “bomb factory” home in Escondido burned down as planned on Thursday. There wasn’t much muss or fuss, just a leftover mess. We answered Five Questions about the bomb factory and explored San Diego’s explosive (and sometimes tragic) past.

Art Attack: He’s just one councilman, but Carl DeMaio has a way of attracting the public’s attention. The arts community is gearing up to battle his city budget plan, which proposes some cuts to taxpayer-paid funding for the arts (but doesn’t eliminate it). A big question: Will the art fans only defend their art’s value or suggest other programs that should be cut instead?

•••

The Coffee Collection (stories to enjoy over a cup of Starbucks decaf Christmas blend):

Farmville: Want to create a community garden in San Diego? Good luck: you may need to do battle with the city zoning people and cough up some Benjamins. Now, activists are hoping to make it easier to grow.

A Place to See and Be Seen: As the debate heats up over the future of Balboa Park, we take a look back at the days before cars took over the Plaza de Panama to the south of the museum of art. It was once a grand gathering place full of celebrities, soldiers and ordinary folks.

•••

Quote of the Week: “The voters said no. They didn’t just say no, they hired a chorus to sing it with them.” — Mayoral adviser Vince Mudd on how city voters struck down Prop. D with a vengeance.

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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