“He won’t tell you this, but he built this whole place with his own hands,” his son says. “This used to be an avocado orchard. He cut down 2,200 trees!”

Gerardo Cordiano, an immigrant from Calabria, Italy, had an idea in mind for a big plot of land near Escondido. He removed the trees and brought in grapes: sangiovese, cabernet franc, petit syrah, merlot. Now he bottles 1,200 cases of wine a year at his Cordiano Winery.

In this week’s Q&A, Cordiano talks about how grapes fare in the soil of San Diego, how they compare to avocados, and why people should only drink his wine when they’re in a good mood. “I tell people very clearly that the wine is only half of the story,” he says. “The other half is the people that drink it.”

Tsunami Falters on Way Here

When I heard about the tsunami warning for the entire West Coast in the pre-dawn hours yesterday, I rushed to send text messages to a couple VOSD colleagues. “Calm down,” one helpfully suggested. It turns out I wasn’t the only person rattled: authorities got plenty of calls when they heard the news that authorities were advising California beach denizens to head for higher ground. At least 100 onlookers gathered on the Ocean Beach pier to see what would happen at the appointed time, KPBS reports.

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The effects of the Japanese tsunami on our coast turned out to be “measly”, the U-T reports, although lives were threatened and one may have been lost much further north.

The NCT notes that the problems at Japanese nuclear power plants represent “exactly the scenario that U.S. regulators worked to prevent when they identified faulty electrical wiring at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2008.”

How Football Outage Might Affect SD

Professional football’s fall season is more in doubt than ever thanks to a breakdown of negotiations between the NFL and players. We take a look at how an aborted season will affect City Hall. The Chargers, after all, pay rent.

Mayor Eyes Properties

In his latest effort to combat Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment statewide, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders wants the city’s redevelopment agency to transfer nearly all 135 of its properties to the city itself, reports Liam Dillon.

“Shame on you, Richard!”

The president of the San Diego school board, a labor organizer and union ally, voted with the board majority to issue hundreds of labor notices. We dig deeper into what happened to him, noting this unusual declaration from his lips: “I am going to violate your trust in me tonight. I’m going to vote for the superintendent’s recommendations. Doing so goes against everything that I believe in.”

In other education news, San Diego schools will begin making payments to help build the downtown library/charter school, resolving a months-long dispute with the city.

Higher Gas Prices = More Transit Riders?

A spokesman for the local public transit system said local ridership “skyrocketed” the last time gas prices hit high marks. San Diego Fact Check examined this statement and finds that it’s mostly true: ridership did go up, but not quite to the extent the spokesman said.

A Diss for Dumanis

There’s only one declared candidate for San Diego mayor (although it seems likely that at least a handful will get in the game later on). Even so, a local gay Democratic organization already knows whom it’s definitely not supporting: Bonnie Dumanis. “Her loyalty appears to rest more with the Republican Party than the LGBT community as witnessed by some of her endorsements,” says the president of the San Diego Democratic Club. “Ouch,” says CityBeat, noting that Dumanis “campaigned for Democratic judges over religious-right judges backed by the same people behind Prop 8.”

We’ve compiled other commentary about Dumanis in our Voices feature. A critic (or critics) has even created a site called “Bonnie D.A.’ Mantis,” a play off of “praying mantis.”

Check, Please

A La Jolla businessman will be the star of TV’s “Secret Millionaire” show on Sunday. Marc Paskin, who works in real estate, was taped as he posed as an ordinary volunteer in poor areas of Detroit, where he handed out thousands of dollars.

The Detroit News describes Paskin as “your standard self-made success who recently treated himself to a ’57 Chevy Bel Air convertible and likes to put on a jumpsuit and torture Elvis songs at karaoke bars.” He tells the paper, “When I walk out on the street here in La Jolla, people barely say good morning. In Detroit, people don’t have much, but they’re a heck of a lot friendlier.”

OK, then. When I see him out and about on Prospect Street or Girard Avenue, I’ll be absolutely sure to say smile, say “hello” and invite him to join me for a karaoke rendition of “Hound Dog.” One thing’s for sure: he’s buying.


What We Learned This Week:

School Nurses Go Under the Budget Knife: Emily Alpert followed a school nurse on the job and noted that nurses do more than tend to broken ankles and bee stings. In a new post, we check a list that shows the more than 100 tasks that the system’s school nurses must complete each day.

One nurse told us how she figured out that a pregnant student needed an obstetrician right away, since her baby was coming. Without the nurse’s alertness, the student could have given birth at the school.

If you’re concerned about how possible district layoffs may affect your school, make sure to check our interactive map showing which campuses may lose the most teachers.

Rinse and Repeat:ACTION IS REQUIRED,” blared the new report from a city task force that carries an old message: Wake up, city leaders, and smell the municipal financial crisis! Do something!

Considering what it sees as a lack of urgency, the task force may have wondered, “Hello? Is this thing on?” Well, it was. The report didn’t go over well at the mayor’s office, where people were awake enough to not appreciate the its tone. A spokesman posted a surly message online about the task force’s leader, pointing out that he serves companies by offering interior design services.

Neither the task force leader nor the mayor were amused by the indelicate jab. It’s fair to assume some businesspeople weren’t impressed either, although there was muttering that the spokesman had a point. He deleted the remark and issued an apology that was part I’m-sorry and part hey-here’s-why-I-said-what-I-said.


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of espresso from this guy):

We Get a Little Trashy: County cutbacks have created nightmares of delays and inconvenience for environment-minded backcountry residents who just want to safely get rid of hazardous waste like paint cans and computer monitors.

This week I also summarized the history of the city’s controversial no-fee trash collection policy, which goes back to the days of trash-to-trough, and City Hall reporter Liam Dillon explains things on video with the help of a TV crew and an actual hog farm.


Quote of the Week: “One reason the San Diego Unified tradeoff evolved was that boosting benefits was easier to sell politically than increasing salaries. The costs are less obvious to the public.” — Education reporter Emily Alpert, describing the comments of retired school administrator Robert Raines about the decision of San Diego schools to boost teacher benefits rather than raise salaries.


Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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