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In the last few weeks, you may have come across signature gatherers asking you to help Walmart.

Why did the biggest corporation in the world need your help?

In December, the city approved an ordinance that forced Walmart to provide evidence it would not have negative impacts on neighboring businesses if it built a Supercenter somewhere in town.

In other words, the city basically told Walmart to prove it would not to compete with its competitors if it wanted to build the stores, which are larger than 90,000 square feet and sell groceries. Walmart began collecting signatures for a initiative to overturn it.

The City Council’s new president, Tony Young, was the pivotal vote on the issue. Now, he is apparently sensing that the measure would have a good chance of passing, and he’s decided to save the city some money and change his mind.


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The ordinance is still alive, barely. The Council still has a few days to decide if it wants to repeal the ordinance or let the voters choose. (More from the U-T is here).

Jobs Jobs Jobs

The debate about Walmart largely boiled down to jobs. Labor unions led the charge to restrict the Supercenters and protect its members’ jobs. Each side claimed its position offered more and better jobs.

For years, Rich Toscano has tracked the San Diego job market and there was a period there, in 2009, when his charts were downright terrifying.

But things look better now, right? Yes, but we’ve got a long way to go. In a new post, Toscano writes that San Diego employment went nowhere in 2010, but began to pep up ever so slightly at the end of the year.

Still, far faster growth will be required to recover the jobs lost during the recession. His final graph in the post is the one that will make you feel the most optimistic about our trajectory.

Also, the country is abuzz with new housing numbers that portend a further decline in home values. But San Diego somehow ticked up, but only slightly (Business Week).

CCDC’s Job

Jobs are also at the center of the debate about the future of redevelopment. As we’ve outlined, Gov. Jerry Brown has framed a powerful argument about why the state needs to stop having to backfill local education funding because it’s been spending property taxes on redevelopment instead.

Now the new governor is about to hear from all the big city mayors about the plan. Yesterday, the chief spokesman for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders sent reporters a heads-up that the mayor is on his way to Sacramento today. He’s going to lobby against Brown’s proposal and then hold a press conference at the capitol building.

In his note, the spokesman specifically wrote that the governor’s plan would jeopardize the expansion of the Convention Center. That was yet more confirmation that project depends primarily on redevelopment. Officials have never confirmed that they would depend on redevelopment funds to build the project. Liam Dillon outlined the scramble for other sources earlier this week.

In his State of the City speech earlier this month, Sanders had said it was the hotel industry that would play a “key leadership role in completing the financial plan that will make this project a reality.”

• That redevelopment money would be managed by the Centre City Development Corp. CCDC has been unwilling or unable to produce documents and data it spent $162,000 collecting in an effort to determine whether downtown indeed deserved more redevelopment investment.

So we took our public records battle public. It’s now Day Three.

Yesterday, reporter Liam Dillon visited CCDC, left them with four questions, explained what he was thinking and ended the day with an answer from CCDC: What he wanted isn’t there.

But CCDC is still the only entity that can get it.

Clean Jobs

SDG&E is committed to helping businesses figure out how to save energy (and money). In May, the company is opening a brand new $7.5 million training and resource center in Clairemont to do that full time. The new Energy Innovation Center is bringing life to a Clairemont Mesa Blvd. strip mall.

There is one odd thing: The utility already pays the prominent California Center for Sustainable Energy, or CCSE, $1.3 million a year to do this exact same thing. The name of that institution? The Energy Resource Center.

It’s a bit of an affront to the CCSE and more.

“The decision signals a move by the utility company to exert greater control over the programs that state law requires it to provide to promote energy efficiency,” writes Adrian Florido.

The Fact Check’s Job

Our Fact Check has gotten a lot of attention — mostly for the determinations and the Pinocchio images that scale his nose according to truthiness. But often, more important is the analysis and explanation that accompanies them. When we hear an interesting claim, the Fact Check provides a way for us to explore it and then explain the context around it.

So it was when we read what seemed like an illogical instance of government regulation. Tom Hebrank, the chairman of the Kensington-Talmadge Planning Group, explained to the Union-Tribune that his organization was not allowed to raise money. And that hurt because they were unable to pay the rising fee at a local church to where they met.

That seemed like something worth explaining. It was, and it’s not true.

‘I’ve Been Jobbed!’

You’ve probably noticed the influx of “daily deals” and the rise of a service called Groupon, which offers sometimes eye-popping deals on local restaurants or other businesses. Lawyers just filed a class-action lawsuit in San Diego’s federal court led by a plaintiff who says he paid $25 for a $50 gift certificate to Nordstrom using Groupon. But he claims he didn’t have enough time to use it (Courthouse News Service).

A Tough Job, Especially During a Hot Flash

The San Diego Opera is opening Jan. 29 with one of its most ambitious performances ever — the classic “Turandot.”

Valerie Scher got Behind the Scene to learn what it takes to be part of the 112-person chorus for the show. (Hint: It’s not easy.)

“Through singing and acting, the chorus can incite, explain and enhance the action while adding harmonic underpinning to the lead singers and orchestra,” Scher writes.

Catch up on all our Behind the Scene features here, including the latest edition of our popular weekly Arts Report.

DeMaio’s Job

Finally, letter writer Omar Passon, a North Park leader we’ve profiled before, wrote a sentence that struck me.

“I am floored at how difficult it is to get information or analysis from any source not named Carl DeMaio,” Passons wrote.

Color me floored as well. The rest of the city has practically handed the debate about City Hall’s financial recovery to DeMaio. Do any other potential mayoral candidates have an alternative?

Maybe more people like Passons, and not named Lewis, will be able to spur that discussion better.

You can contact me directly at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!): twitter.com/vosdscott.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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