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“Do I think I did anything criminal? No,” says former Councilman Michael Zucchet in a long CityBeat interview about his involvement in the infamous “Strippergate” case.

“Do I think I did anything that merited criminal prosecution, or even a criminal investigation? No. Did I do anything that I’m ashamed of morally or … ethically? No. Do I wish the whole thing hadn’t happened? I suppose.”

In an interview with us at the end of 2009 he was “very cynical about many aspects of the public and the media and the political structure in this city,” though not cynical enough to stay out of politics altogether since his 2005 conviction was overturned.

He now manages the city’s largest labor union, the white collar Municipal Employees Association, but tells CityBeat “he wouldn’t take a City Council seat if it were handed to him.”

“The thing that was hardest for me to take,” he says, “is that I feel like that career was stolen from me.”


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Ex-Swindler’s Redemption Fail

Pastor Barry Minkow’s much-praised turnaround is over: his lawyer says he’ll plead guilty to insider trading in a Florida case, and he has stepped down from his position at a San Diego evangelical church.

Minkow was a teenage financial “whiz kid” in the 1980s, but it turned out that his carpet-cleaning empire was a Ponzi scheme. He went to prison, got out, and turned into a fraud-detector and pastor. He would also investigate firms that he thought were engaged in fraud and make investment bets that the companies would fail.

Newcomers Raise Hackles in Southeastern SD

The ethnic makeup of southeastern San Diego is changing, and some residents don’t seem thrilled about it. In fact, an underlying tone of racial tension is plaguing a nonprofit group’s attempts to turn around the community, perhaps by welcoming a big store like Walmart or Target.

“I’ve been in this community a long time,” a resident told an audience at a forum the other night. “And all these people I see around here, I just don’t know where you all came from.”

Many of “these people” are Latinos. The speaker, an African-American man, would rather see a mall where local blacks can open stores.

Others are concerned. As Adrian Florido reports, “some of the community’s black pastors have grown uneasy about the nonprofit’s work and the roughly 56 acres of land it’s bought near the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Market Street.” The challenge for the nonprofit will be to figure out how to bring the various ethnic groups together, if that’s even possible.

A Strike Is Like an ‘Act of Public Enemy’

We’ve gotten ahold of the lease contract between the Chargers and the city over use of the football stadium. It says the team doesn’t have to pay in case of a “Force Majeure Event” like a strike or lockout. There’s more things that could cancel the rent payment: an “act of public enemy” or an epidemic or a long list of other things, like “governmental restraint, either federal or state, civil or military.”

Food Stamps Much More Popular?

A county official says food stamp recipients have grown by almost 70 percent in two years. San Diego Fact Check finds that the statistic is true: food stamp use is way up.

The county, which has been criticized over its unusually strict approach to helping the needy, still approves applications for food stamps less often than other places in the state.

A coming change to food stamp program is that “homeless, disabled and elderly people who cannot cook,” the North County Times says, will be permitted to “use their debit cards to buy meals at restaurants”.

Who Will Be Left?

A City Heights elementary school will suffer big-time if the school district lays off as many teachers as it fears. Really big-time. Of 27 regular teachers, 25 will get layoff warning notices, and one of the other two might have to leave too.

The school, in a poor neighborhood, already faces tough odds. That fact could play a role in why these new numbers are so bad: layoffs tend to hit poor schools the most because their teachers are the most inexperienced and have the least seniority.

Radiation Consternation

A radiation plume from the nuclear disaster in Japan may hit Southern California by Friday, the New York Times reports, although experts expect “extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable.”

A Coronado drugstore tells the U-T that there’s been a run on potassium iodide pills, which can protect the thyroid from the possibly cancer-causing effects of radiation, even though health officials say there’s no need for San Diegans to worry about radiation from Japan at this point.

In 2003, a report commissioned by Congress said everyone under 40 who lives near a nuclear power plant should have the pills on hand. But as I reported, many states with nuclear plants refused to accept pills handed out by the federal government.

Gays Don’t Want District Split

Members of San Diego’s Hillcrest-centered gay community are pushing for it to be considered a “community of interest” and not get split up — potentially reducing its political power — during City Council redistricting, Gay San Diego reports. “The reason that we’ve been able to have 20 years of LGBT representation on the City Council is because we’ve had District 3,” said the chair of a community task force. District 3 includes Hillcrest and several nearby communities and has long been represented by gay and lesbian City Council members.

They Have a Winner

The San Diego Symphony has ended its unusual audition process, which we told you about earlier this week, and chosen a new French horn player. We talk to him and learn he thinks the process is “an imperfect solution to a very deep question.”

Alone Again, Diabetically

The Photos of the Day catch a diabetic first-grade boy who has to eat alone because he gets sidetracked by a check of his blood sugar levels. The photos include others that didn’t make the cut in recent stories but are still worth a look.

He Needs to Get Out More

A cranky commentator in the Pomerado News complains about taxpayer subsidies for art, saying that art fans are “like the supporters of the San Diego Chargers — just more effete, better coiffured, with fewer tattoos and piercings, and a preference for wine over beer — but a special interest group, nonetheless.”

The writer needs to visit art shows in North Park, where tattoos, ill-advised coiffures and blatant non-effete-ness are often on display.

All We’re Missing is Dino

Las Vegas Weekly profiles legendary comedian and perennial telethon host Jerry Lewis, interviewing him on his “home-away-from-home” yacht, Sam’s Place, while it’s docked in the San Diego marina. Lewis turned 85 yesterday.

It’s great to know that Jerry Lewis spends time here. A helpful tip: if you’re walking along the marina and hear a guy yelling “Hey laaaady!” at an older gentleman on a yacht, just tell me to pipe down.

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

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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