Take a second and consider Councilman Carl DeMaio. (With the amount of news he’s been making lately, it’s hard not to.) Who, exactly, is he trying to woo?
As commentator Scott Lewis notes, DeMaio has been busy alienating people. Labor types are annoyed by him. He’s against new taxpayer funding for a downtown football stadium and expanded convention center, and he’s not a huge fan of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. (Goodbye, businesspeople!) Artists aren’t happy that he’s targeting some taxpayer funding for the arts. And now he’s going after pensions for cops and firefighters.
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“Nobody since former City Attorney Mike Aguirre has decided to tilt his sword at so many powerful interests in the city and still hoped to achieve a major citywide post,” Lewis writes.
The big question is whether voters — the ultimate powerful interest — will appreciate his cost-slashing style. For the moment, it seems like plenty of them are undecided about DeMaio, despite his high profile in the land of politicos and wonks. The web recently buzzed with the results of a SurveyUSA poll that found more than a third of voters surveyed had no opinion about him (including 40 percent of liberals) and 22 percent were neutral. By contrast, just 10 percent of survey responders had no opinion about Councilwoman Donna Frye.
Local polls have a sorry recent history of epic inaccuracy, so we should take them with a grain of salt, or maybe a Costco-sized carton of Morton’s. Still, plenty of voter minds seem to have no thoughts either way about DeMaio. They have less than two years (until the 2012 mayoral election) to develop some.
Sick Days? They’ve Had a Few
There’s yet another in the seemingly endless series of news stories in the U-T that about the job benefits given to local public employees. The latest, provided by the Watchdog Institute, uncovers the county’s rather amazing sick day program for high-level employees. Some get to amass unused sick time for years and years with no cap: one guy got $118,605 worth (!) when he retired.
The employees only get to cash out 50 percent of the value of their unused sick time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: the value is based on their final salary. The story indicates that the employees get 13 sick days a year, a number that will surely give a headache to non-government workers who have nowhere near that many.
Tunneling Through UCSD’s Urban Legend
If you have any connection with UCSD, you may have heard the rumors: underground tunnels (plus the university’s foreboding concrete architecture) were designed to help the campus handle student protests and riots. San Diego Fact Check went in search of the tunnels. It turns out they exist, but they were created to house utilities, not to give authorities easy access to UCSD if students go rogue.
However, the tunnels have served other purposes, like being a semi-scary place where boys could take girls to impress them. UCSD, by the way, didn’t want us to write this story because of concerns about safety in the tunnels, which could be dangerous. But the university acknowledges their existence on an official web page about campus trivia.
UCSD seems rather strait-laced now and hardly a place where students would run riot. But it was a hotbed of protests during the Vietnam War and home to major figures on the left like Herbert Marcuse and Angela Davis. In the 1980s, the local media followed the case of a leftist student who bit an FBI agent during a scuffle at a campus career fair while the agent tried to pull the student’s camera off her. I helped retrieve the student, a friend of mine, from jail after the incident. A federal judge later harangued prosecutors for pursuing a felony case against the student, who’s now a real-estate agent in Pismo Beach.
Homeless Count Up
A January countywide survey found more than 8,800 people sleeping outside or in housing for the homeless. That’s up by more than 2,000 since 2007, but that may have something to do with more people counting this time around. (KPBS)
Ream Team Targets Issa
Politico reports that a liberal group is trying hard to dig up dirt on North County Congressman Darrell Issa, who’s become one of the leading thorns in the side of the president. The group is launching a website, wants to buy ads and is poring through Issa’s eventful past, with an early focus on a building fire from the early 1980s.
Together at Last
Famed mystery author Raymond Chandler and his wife Cissy have finally been reunited: a ceremony on Valentine’s Day at San Diego’s Mt. Hope Cemetery brought them together. Her ashes were stored in a nearby mausoleum despite her wishes that she be put to rest next to him. KPBS says about 75 people showed up and heard actor Powers Boothe — you may remember him as a casino boss in “Deadwood” or as a vice president on “24” — read some of the author’s most famous lines.
There’s a new marker noting the presence of both husband and wife. It includes a quote from the Chandler classic “The Big Sleep, which became a famous film noir: “Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.” I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds right.
In arts, we introduce you to a 30-year-old man from Turkey who’s blind but still produces artwork through the sense of touch thanks to his powers of molding with clay and porcelain. “People think art is all about visual beauty,” says the artist, who hopes to become a special education teacher. “I want to emphasize that art is touch. Museums never let you touch anything, and I want to show that art is so much more.”
They Liked to Watch
As we told you yesterday, our photographer Sam Hodgson became the surprise subject of a collaborative painting by three local artists. Now, he talks about how it happened and why he allowed himself to become part of the story.
If you follow the arts, remember to check out our weekly Arts Report. It comes out every Tuesday and summarizes the news in the local arts world from our pages and elsewhere.
Yesterday, by the way, the voiceofsandiego.org website gave big play to the Arts Report on our home page. That’s never happened to the Morning Report, which now thinks its little sister is getting too big for her britches, thank you very much.