It’s your turn to be picky, picky, picky.

Our staff photographer Sam Hodgson has compiled a gallery of his 50 favorite photos of the year, and we’d like your help as we narrow that down to 10.

The photo subjects include politicians, football players, community farmers, students and many more, including my favorite: a skyward shot of a well-known chicken.

Shot Down:

A federal judge ruled against a challenge to the county’s policy regarding concealed-weapon permits. Gun owners had complained that the county was too strict about issuing the permits. (U-T)

The Limits of New Money:

San Diego school leaders got flak recently for refusing to go after federal funds in the Race to the Top program. The school board president says the extra money wouldn’t have helped the local schools deal with their financial problems. San Diego Fact Check examines this claim and declares it to be true.

Also in education, San Diego schools are once again trying to figure out how to distribute money that’s destined to help disadvantaged kids.

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By the way, if you missed it, check out reporter Emily Alpert’s piece from earlier this week about the controversy over California’s hands-off approach to home schooling. It’s colorful, authoritative and fair story, and even people who swear they don’t care about education will find it worth a read.

UCSD: Tax Haven?

We’ve created maps to show you how San Diego’s neighborhoods voted on the two local tax-hike measures on the November ballot. Prop. D would have boosted sales taxes if the city worked to fix its financial mess; Prop. J aimed to help schools by boosting property taxes on a per-parcel basis. Both measures failed, but they still managed to attract plenty of support in a few places.

The UCSD and Hillcrest neighborhoods were fans of Prop. D, while many of the city’s poorer neighborhoods heavily supported the school measure. The upscale Rancho Bernardo neighborhood, in contrast, heartily slapped around Prop. D. (Those voters are in a different school district, so they didn’t get a chance to do the same to Prop. J.)

Growth Spurt:

As we reported last week, San Diego makes it awfully hard for residents to create community gardens. There’s red tape and permit hassles, enough to make people groan instead of grow. We’ve discovered another wrinkle: Chula Vista and Escondido both have laws (a new one in Chula Vista’s case) that encourage community gardens and cut down on bureaucracy.

Ashes to Landfill:

Cleanup crews began getting rid of the ashes of the burned-up “bomb factory” house in Escondido yesterday, the NCT reports. The debris is heading to the Otay landfill. Occupants of two neighboring houses still aren’t being allowed to go home.

Of Downtown Basements (Skylit) and Roads (Yellow Brick):

In our latest Fact Check of an urban legend, we look into a report that small bits of glass in downtown sidewalks provided illumination to basements below street level. True? Well, sort of. Our official verdict is one we don’t use very often: “barely true.”

• San Diego Fact Check TV takes a look at claims regarding search-and-rescue operations and “Munchkin houses” on La Jolla’s Mt. Soledad, supposedly created for the actors from the “Wizard of Oz.”

Follow-up: The Munchkin houses Fact Check verdict of “false” is still correct. But as I noted last week, I’m checking out reports that there are — and were — a few unusually small homes on the hill. Now I’m pursuing yet another angle: would the building code, which sets rules about things like room heights, have allowed unusually small homes?

That’s No Lady:

Finally, the NCT reports on a story of great import to all who prefer companionship without the pesky hassle of mutual conversation: “an apparent settlement in a lawsuit between two North County companies that make pricey sex dolls has fallen apart and a judge has ordered a couple on one side of the dispute to close their business and turn over their dolls and designs to their rivals.”

There’s no word on what happened to two dolls who appeared at a court hearing, as described in a classic earlier NCT story: “the svelte, dark-haired ‘Yvette’ wearing a form-fitting black dress, and the auburn-haired ‘Michele’ wearing an off-white blouse, black vest and black skirt.”

If your lonely friend suddenly has a couple of silent but striking gal pals, you might want to check to see if they’re a bit stiff.

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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