Brother, can you spare a treetrimmer? How about a street repair crew?

The city of San Diego is looking into saving money by creating partnerships with other local governments to do things like run law enforcement and collect wastewater. The idea is that consolidation would lower costs for everybody by reducing the need for duplication, as it’s already done with fire services in East County.

The response has been promising, but a plan still needs to be hammered out. And it would have to deal with lots of questions like the obvious one: Who’ll be in charge? Government officials will surely find that a tough one to answer, but it may be easier than dealing with this query from a populace annoyed by declining services: Why won’t you people do something already?

Sue Me Sue You Blues:

The county says it’s ready to sue over the last-minute late-night legislative deal that allowed the downtown redevelopment agency to keep its hands on a giant pot of property tax money. That means less dough for the county, which is pushing for a settlement.

So what does all this agita over redevelopment — including the possible end of it altogether — mean in the big picture? Scott Lewis explains how there’s a big gulf between citizens and some city leaders when it comes to how they see redevelopment.

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On the one hand, San Diego is spending or thinking about spending lots of money on giant new projects (library/school, Convention Center expansion, new football stadium). But at the same time, the city’s services from firefighting to libraries and recreation centers are taking it on the chin.

City Hall folks like the mayor say these are different pots of money. “Residents don’t see the pots of money,” Lewis writes. “They see the priorities. To them, if a luxurious city project appears well-funded but their street hasn’t been repaved in years or their library is closed on Saturdays, they don’t care about pots. To them, the city has put a service they care about lower on the priority list.”

Thanks for (Not) Clearing That Up:

In the U-T: “A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the cross atop Mount Soledad is unconstitutional but did not explicitly say the landmark must be removed.” It’s not clear if changes would make the cross legal, so its status remains as up in the air as ever. (The cross has been the subject of legal wrangling for some two decades.)

Cough Cough Hack:

Downtown’s redevelopment agency is getting rid of something interesting: a used cigar humidor. And not a little one. This baby is almost five feet high, a “custom blonde wood cedar interior 20-drawer finish humidifier.”

A humidor is a cigar-holding container equipped with a humidifier, often made of cedar.

What’s a public agency — taxpayer-funded and everything — doing with one? The agency bought it in a deal to buy out the lease of a wine shop. It was never used to create a political smoke-filled room at the agency.

A Muzzle for Kids Who Want to Speak Up?

Hey, children! Wanna come down to University Heights and wait a long time and then speak to a bunch of adults about an education matter?

It certainly sounds appealing. (Not really.) But some kids still go to San Diego school board meetings to give trustees a piece of their minds. Should they be allowed to do so without parental permission?

That’s an issue facing the board, one that raises issues of First Amendment rights (yes, kids have them) and laws about public meetings of public agencies like school districts. It also makes you wonder: Should kids be forced to shut up if their parents don’t like what they might say?

Adding It Up:

Plenty of parents have read reporter Emily Alpert’s story that chronicles the best education ideas she came across in 2010. And lots of those parents are getting in touch with her about one in particular: how a San Diego elementary school and its sister middle schools are turning around their approach to math instruction. Alpert has answers to specific questions about what the school’s up to.

The program clearly has hit a nerve: “All over the country, people are trying to find ways to help kids who seem to flourish in math earlier on, then fall off a cliff when algebra rolls around — the problem that Einstein took on by trying to ensure kids understand math more deeply before they hit algebra.”

Grim-to-Middling Forecasts:

The LAT asked five experts to predict what’s next for the Southern California housing market in 2010. Their verdicts about prices: Flat, 2 percent increase in prices, 5 percent decrease (whoa!), stabilization and flat.

Three Finalists and Three Winners:

Readers have helped us narrow down our list of the finalists for the not-so-coveted Whopper of the Year award — 2010’s most egregious inaccurate claim as disclosed by the San Diego Fact Check blog.

The three finalists are: the former president of the downtown redevelopment agency, who gave her past a makeover. A former City Council president (and now assemblyman) who bungled a statement about the taxes we pay. And a local weatherman and noted global-warming denier who rained on reality. Help us figure out which whopper is the whoppiest. (Whopperingest?)

Also: The results are in, and three people managed to get perfect scores in our 2010 trivia contest and beat out the competition.

One of the questions was about a silent film star who encountered a literal load of manure during a visit to the Agua Caliente gaming resort. She’s Mabel Normand, and she was no stranger to San Diego. As we showed you a few months ago, the pretty and busty comedienne appeared in a brief film of Balboa Park during the big exposition in 1915. A glimpse of her in the film, riding a kind of motorized love seat, just showed up in a new TCM documentary about the history of Hollywood.

Another silent-film tidbit: Monday was the anniversary of the day in 1926 when a contingent of Hollywood stars came down to San Diego to dedicate a housing tract east of Kensington. About 10,000 people flocked to the event (where rain soaked everyone and crushed a celebratory cake) and the neighborhood of Talmadge, named after three actress sisters, was born, as we explained back in 2009. (The actresses’ names — Constance, Natalie and Norma — still grace three streets there.)


Michael Cavna, a former UCSD student who now writes for The Washington Post, is out with his favorite quotes of the year from the comics world. Not surprisingly, several of them come from last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con. My favorite is by the guy behind “The Knight Life”: “Mostly, I think people are empowered by being a geek, especially at Comic-Con. I remember years ago, the thing about Comic-Con was: It was the only place where you I felt like I could beat up [most of] the guys in the room.”

Now there’s a new motto for Comic-Con: Where the Weak Meet the Weaker.

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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