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If you have not looked at Keegan Kyle’s new blog, Data Drive, you’re going to want to. He’s using all the new ways we have available to visualize data to tell a story about our city.

His latest post helps us put into perspective how city leaders have prioritized money for downtown redevelopment. Yes, folks, Kyle has made the Downtown Money Tree into a real, well digital, thing. Check out how big your favorite branch of this local spending is.

The new main library downtown dominates the tree along with affordable housing. But it’s the future of this Money Tree and the new branches many local boosters want it to grow that has mobilized them to fiercely fight Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment statewide.

In fact, it looks like there may be a new political entity ready to help with fights like this.

• Not long ago, City Councilman Carl DeMaio crowed that he didn’t care about what the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce thought.

“They don’t support candidates, they don’t get behind initiatives. They do talk. And that’s wonderful — to have people talk. But you can talk all you want. If you don’t act, you don’t get results,” he told me. His point was that the Chamber didn’t spend money on politics and that new business groups were taking over that role and therefore were more important to conservative local politics.

The chairman of the Chamber, Tom Wornham, responded that it wasn’t the Chamber’s role to spend money on campaigns and it didn’t have a political action committee.

That is, until now. On Thursday, Vince Mudd, the Poway businessman we’ve been watching, became the chairman of the Chamber. In his speech after he was introduced in that role he announced that the group will create a new political action committee.

Mudd said the PAC will be getting behind initiatives after all. One, in particular, will identify “the single issue that represents the largest road block to effective job growth and the flow of commerce to our region” and attack it in 2012. That was as far as Mudd would go in describing it.

Since he and the PAC have yet to identify that issue, apparently, maybe you could send me your ideas of what that single largest roadblock to effective job growth really is.

The Chamber will also create a formal policy partnership with the Regional Economic Development Corp. and hire a new vice president of public policy.

A few weeks ago, we found a school where students were more likely to get high grades (As and Bs) than any other high school in San Diego. And yet the students there did not have the highest test scores on the SATs and ACTs.

Now, we find the opposite: a school pledging to wipe out grade inflation and making it difficult to get an A or B. But it’s a school delivering high test scores. You’ll want to see the graphs in the story to capture just how dramatic the difference is between the Kearny School of International Business and its peers.

Teachers argue that stricter grades are ultimately better for students. “If you send a kid off to UCSD, are they going to make it?” asked counselor Dawn Swanson. “Or will they become defeated and drop out?”

Fab Five Forgotten?

The New York Times, on Sunday, profiled Steve Fisher, the San Diego State basketball coach that has locals dreaming of a national championship. The Times says winning this year has helped Fisher “distance himself” from a troubled past. That past? Fisher’s time at Michigan during the so-called Fab Five scandal.

Obviously it hasn’t helped him distance himself enough to keep the Times from reminding everyone about it.

We Love the Chargers!

Something happens just before the Super Bowl that provokes people to talk about the business of the NFL more than at any other time. This year, the future of the league in Los Angeles and the chance of a lockout (and no season) next year dominated the conversation.

Here, City Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Tony Young both recently put out relatively vague declarations that we should keep the team here and find a stadium solution.

Meanwhile, in Liam Dillon’s interview this weekend with Julie Dubick, the mayor’s new chief of staff, she would not say when residents would have the chance to review an actual proposal.

Saying you want the Chargers to stay is pretty easy. Putting out plan? Not so much.

I’ve been trying to figure out what company in San Diego could step up to deliver what Farmer’s Insurance has to the Los Angeles stadium quest. I think I got it. As I told Young, since Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is so good at getting taxpayer money for construction downtown, perhaps he can be charged with helping us build “U.S. Navy Stadium.”

It could be a great recruiting tool: Hey kids, can’t make it into the NFL? There’s more than one way to get paid to kick butt.

Huffington Patch

As you might have noticed, a new local news animal has been making inroads in some of San Diego’s suburban communities: Aol’s Patch. Big news broke last night that Aol was buying the Huffington Post and that Arianna Huffington would be taking over the editorial direction of all Aol’s content.

Here’s a good skeptical analysis of the merger and a here’s a more positive outlook if you’re interested.

A Request

We’ll begin our next fundraising pitch in coming weeks. But I had a request I couldn’t wait on. As you know, Sam Hodgson, our photographer, has become one of the community’s best. He recently came to me with a budget request I thought I would simply pass along:

“My job as voiceofsandiego.org’s photojournalist is to introduce readers to people in their community and to shed light on our region’s challenges. In fact, my entire job is collecting light. To that end, I’ve struggled recently with the broken, consumer-grade wide-angle lens I’ve been using for years. It’s the most important tool in a photojournalist’s bag, because it allows us to get very physically close to people. It doesn’t come cheap. A new, $1,300 Nikon wide-angle lens will help me produce great images in low-light situations, which I often find myself in. It will mean I literally will be able to bring you images from darker corners than ever before.”

What do you think? Would you be interested in supporting an investment like that? If so, donate here and write “lens” in the “donation dedication” section or on your check sent to the address on that page.

We project a budget for those kinds of equipment needs but we still have to raise money to fund it.

Thank you to all our supporters.

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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