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Crime rates in San Diego kept dropping in 2010. The number of crimes in every major category fell compared to 2009 (murders, for example, dipped from 41 to 29) and the overall crime rate fell to the lowest level since 1963. There were still tens of thousands of property crimes and thefts, however, and 300 reported rapes. (U-T)

Public safety reporter Keegan Kyle takes a closer look at the new crime statistics, noting what they say about trends in hate crimes, domestic violence, gang crimes, kid victims, curfew violations and the police department’s improving solved-crime rates.

This post, by the way, marks the debut of the Data Drive blog. Keegan will use maps, charts and other graphics to explain and visualize trends across the region and help you understand the numbers defining the civic dialogue.

A Choice of Homeless or Lawless:

The number of registered sex offenders who are homeless has gone up by thousands since the state enacted a law forbidding parolee offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, CityBeat reports. Four parolees are in local court asking to be allowed to bypass the law, which they say has sent them onto the street.

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One man who has a 23-year-old misdemeanor sexual assault conviction on his record says he can’t live with his wife and kids due to the law. “Unwilling to uproot his family and unable to pay two rents, he bought a Chevy Astro and installed carpet and a flat-screen TV. He was allowed to spend two hours in the morning and two hours at night in the apartment — long enough to charge his GPS device. He couldn’t park his van in the apartment complex — or on any residential property — but he could park it on a public street or, with permission, in a private commercial lot, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.”

Not So Fast, Walmart:

Local state Senator Juan Vargas is taking on the expansion-minded and obstacle-averse Walmart in the state legislature. As KPBS reports, he wants to bring forth legislation that will require super-duper big-box stores to undergo an economic impact study before they’re built.

Vargas also dinged the San Diego City Council. “It’s because of the political pressure that was placed on them. So all of a sudden a large company can come in and cause them to change their minds,” Vargas said. “And that was disappointing. But hopefully we’ll be able to correct it from the state.”

The big question: Does Vargas have the votes in the legislature? If he does, will the new governor — not labor’s best friend as of late — go along? And what if an economic impact study finds that a super-duper Walmart will both help residents by bringing lower prices to town and also hurt local small businesses that can’t compete? Maybe its presence will be a wash, in part because of all that cheap detergent — and everything else — on the store shelves.

Horn’s Non-Dilemma:

County Supervisor Bill Horn told an audience last night that he’s no fan of the county’s plans to change its blueprint for development in the backcountry: “I personally feel government does not have the right to devalue your land and leave you with the crumbs.” (NCT)

Charging Toward a Departure?

Editor Andrew Donohue says the news about a downtown football stadium in L.A. — it’s got a name, thanks to an insurance company, even though it’s not a done deal — is the biggest development yet in San Diego’s own ongoing stay-or-go Chargers drama: “If Gov. Jerry Brown succeeds in killing redevelopment, another San Diego stadium plan will be trashed. And, after a decade of searching here, that Los Angeles project would have to look pretty good. So good, in fact, that the competition might just shift from who can build the Chargers a stadium to which team can get to Los Angeles the soonest.”

In other Chargers news, ESPN reported that the Chargers can end their current stadium lease if they pay off the bonds used to expand it in 1997. But, as San Diego Fact Check discovers, that’s not true.

Uproar at Charter School:

Parents and teachers at a small charter school in Chollas View are demanding that San Diego Unified launch an investigation of their school after the principal and new board members made a string of controversial decisions, education reporter Emily Alpert reports. Parents and teachers accuse the principal of intimidating those who disagree with him; the principal says the allegations are untrue and says his critics resist change.

Teacher Strike Looms in South Bay:

Teachers in National City have declared that they’ll go on strike as of Friday. We’ve compiled links to coverage of the labor strife from our site and elsewhere.

Teacher strikes are unusual in the county, although they’re occasionally threatened. The last one, of San Diego Unified teachers, came in 1996. The U-T says last-minute talks are planned for today.

Study Supports Red-Light Cameras:

An institute supported by the insurance industry is out with a study supporting red-light cameras: it says the rate of fatal red-light-running crashes fell by 35 percent from 1992-1996 to 2004-2008 in 14 cities studied, compared to 14 percent in other cities.

In San Diego, one of the red-light-camera cities studied, the fatality rate from red-light-running crashes fell by 62 percent from 26 to 11 over that time period.

Just Say Whoa:

SDG&E installed wireless “smart meters” in local homes without much fuss, but it hasn’t avoided controversy up in San Clemente. (SDG&E covers part of Orange County.) Some residents fear the smart meters, including a woman who says she suffers from electrohypersensitivity and fears radio-frequency waves. (“I don’t want RF in my home … do not trespass my property … do not trespass my body.”)

This week, the San Clemente City Council deadlocked on whether to support state legislation that would allow people to decide whether they get the meters. (OC Register)

A Mom’s Life Before His Eyes:

Picture this: your mom is a bisexual one-time star of fetish porn movies and former East L.A. gang member who’s now known for her bluesy singing voice, her plus-sized body and her survival in a music industry that didn’t always know what to make of her. How would you like to be in her band and play several performances each week of an intimate theater production about her life, including all those highs and lows?

I asked Evan Caleb that question and a few more. He’s the son of local blues singer Candye Kane, whose musical play “The Toughest Girl Alive” ends this weekend at the Moxie Theatre. “I’m not like most kids, and we’re not like most families,” he says.

Wall to Wall:

We’ve posted another installment of our What’s on Your Wall? series, which checks in on the homes of local artists. This time, we look at the paintings and other artwork on the walls of the East County home of artist Mike Maxwell, who’s quite a fan of decorating. (Check out those tattoos on his arms and knuckles.)

Channel-ing Your Money Obsession:

The A.V. Club begins a series about obscure cable networks by taking a look at WealthTV, which is based right here in San Diego. The network promises “vicarious living at its very best,” but doesn’t manage to impress the viewer, says the site: “If the world is your luxury hotel, then WealthTV is the in-room hospitality channel, offering wall-to-wall travelogues of exotic destinations and exciting entertainments all rendered soporifically dull through public-access production values and no discernible point of view beyond ‘look at this thing.’”

Wait, since when did “no discernible point of view” become a bad thing?

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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