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If you check out a map of how county residents voted on Prop. 19, the legalize-marijuana measure, you’ll find something unusual out in the boonies: a lot of folks wanted to stop outlawing pot.

But wait a minute. East County is heavily Republican and, to judge by its reputation to the west, a gun-friendly place where country music is king. Why were they so sympathetic to pot users?

The head of East County’s chamber of commerce says it may have something to do with the region’s libertarian streak: “It’s less about marijuana and more about individual freedom. It’s less about actually smoking marijuana and more about having the right to.”

Meet the Welcome Wagon:

Got a problem at the airport? One of the Volunteer Airport Ambassadors can solve it, or at least direct you to someone who might be able to help. In this week’s Q&A feature, we talk to Ginna James, one of those 300 volunteers, who comes to you — she strolls around airport — instead of waiting for you to come to her.

She deals with the lost, late and livid — and sometimes all of those in one. Flyers get miffed when discover that they can’t bring certain things on planes (who are these people?) and when, in one flyer’s case, a skycap outside asks for (chutzpah alert!) a tip on top of the baggage fee.

By the way, here’s something you may not know: wrapped gifts are not allowed in carry-on luggage. But there’s a new airport program that offers gift-wrapping when you get past security. Just make sure your naughtiest gifts stay in your checked baggage.

Unemployment Stays Steady:

San Diego County’s unemployment rate went up slightly in November to 10.4 percent. The LAT says statewide numbers suggest that “that the economy could continue to recover without significant job growth.”


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The Vote Is in the Mail:

A local activist claimed the other day that half of San Diego’s citizens vote by mail. That’s quite a lot of people who aren’t getting those little “I Voted” stickers. (And it makes me worry about the status of the employees at the “I Voted” sticker company.)

Is the claim true? Yes, mostly, says the San Diego Fact Check blog.

Bright Colors for Beige Town:

Judging by the color of its outside walls, La Jolla is not exactly a vibrant community. Now, colorful temporary murals are popping up over town, the products of a community improvement effort. The second one is set to be painted today, and you’re invited to help.

Electricity in the Air:

Photographer Sam Hodgson was on hand to document the Chargers victory over San Francisco on Thursday night.

Speaking of the Chargers, we unravel how the team essentially manages to get free rent from the city.

America’s Spikiest City?

Google has a nifty new feature: it allows you to search for words or phrases in a giant database of books from throughout history. I looked up “San Diego” and found that mentions of our fair city zipped up around 1951 (the spike is even more obvious in another graph of a more limited book database) and also in the 1970s and 1990s.

It’s hard to tell for sure, but the latter spike may have something to do with books that mentioned the 1996 Republican National Convention. But what happened in the early 1950s that put San Diego on the national stage, at least in the eyes of authors? Send me theories if you’ve got them.

Don’t Touch My Quote:

The phrase uttered by an Oceanside man at Lindbergh Field — “If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested” — ranked third on a Yale University librarian’s annual list of the best quotes of the year.

Tying for first place were “I’m not a witch” (Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell) and “I’d like my life back” (BP CEO Tony Hayward).

My favorite local quote of the year — “I think what Donna was saying is there’s a pony in this pile of poop” — didn’t make the list. That was Mayor Jerry Sanders talking about a city fiscal recovery plan.

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What We Learned This Week:

They Vote, They Decide: Under a proposed revamp of the San Diego school board, activists want a committee made up of parents and others to choose four board members who’d be added to the elected five. Voters would be left out of this loop. But who would be in it? We profile the parents who could hold plenty of power.

Run for Your Lives! In our latest urban legend Fact Check, a reader wondered: did a scary blob really threaten downtown years ago? It did indeed. Not exactly like in the movies, though: this one lurked underground, waiting to attack.

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The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of hot cocoa):

Home Unsweet Home? The adult children in a Ramona family say their mother is doing a poor job of educating their younger siblings through home schooling. If that’s actually the case, the kids are on their own: since the state takes a hands-off approach to home schooling, there’s not much anyone can do to help them, as the older children have discovered. In the big picture, their story highlights how home schools lack oversight.

Out, Damned Street: A tiny proposed throughway is driving residents in the Serra Mesa neighborhood to distraction: it would allow more traffic from perennially congested Mission Valley to pass through.

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Quote of the Week: “I never liked Fred. I’m glad he’s gone.” — Astronomer Mike Brown, on whether Pluto would be as appealing if it was named Fred.

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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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