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A roundup of opinion and commentary from what we’ve been reading:

• When the San Diego Union-Tribune introduced the Superdiners in February, the list of super names who would give their opinions boded well for getting to the heart of the dining — and restaurateuring — experience in San Diego. And boy howdy. This week Superdiners took on auto-gratuities, the practice of automatically adding a tip to a bill.

It may seem like we discussed this to death a couple of years ago when Jay Porter’s restaurant The Linkery was featured as the poster joint for auto-grats in The New York Times Magazine, and when the San Diego City Attorney’s office decided against legal action last year, but there’s plenty of fresh nuance, humor and grace in the Superdiner’s opinions on the matter. Two examples:

J. Dean Loring of Burger Lounge:

Who came up with the idea that you might get better service if the server is prepaid for his work? I don’t get it. I’ve been insulted in Paris, I have been ignored in Prague. What do they have in common? Gratuity included.

Bill Sysak, beverage supervisor at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens:

I hate enforced tipping as I am a notoriously generous tipper. I always inform my server at the beginning of my dining experience that although I am needy they will be well reimbursed and entertained from my visit.

Needy but entertaining? Room for one more at my table!

One commenter on the article remarked, “An article that is completely designed to criticize the Linkery?” I don’t know, but Jay Porter of The Linkery has a response:

I’ll just say I can’t help but notice that every single one of the people who assert that servers need to be tipped in order to be motivated to do a good job, themselves work in non-tipped jobs.

One presumes that these people believe that either 1) all non-tipped people, including themselves, do lousy work because they are not properly motivated, or 2) servers come from a class of people less capable than themselves of doing good work out of personal and professional pride.

Californians are quitting smoking faster than the rest of the United States and their heavy smoking has dropped, but Joe Deegan shows in the San Diego Reader that there’s still some fire in the smoker culture wars. He talks to smokers about smoke breaks, smoking rules in the workplace, and acceptance of smokers. A woman named June tells him,

It’s an embarrassing habit, although I’m not sure how other smokers feel about it. They mostly seem to feel like it’s their right, that they’re obeying the laws and it’s okay because they’re outside where they’re not affecting anybody around them. I know some smokers get angry and defensive at the comments made toward them. They come right out and say, ‘It’s none of your business’ or ‘It’s my life. I’m not affecting you.’ But me? I’m the opposite. I get embarrassed.

• At Ask Metafilter, Bob Stacy floats the idea of corporate sponsors in schools, to which most people reply, “Enh.”

• Eric Johnson writes a stirring defense of public employees in the Union-Tribune:

I am the scourge of the modern era. I have been verbally assaulted in the local and national media. My utter existence has all but been criminalized. I have been accused of causing the budget shortfalls of every municipal and state government in the nation.

Who am I? I am your dedicated and hardworking municipal employee, now retired.

• Councilman Todd Gloria posted a map representing pothole relief to his Facebook page, to which Evelyn Thomas replied, “People can not eat asphalt” and remarked that she’d rather see the money spent on the homeless — homeless veterans, specifically. After that came a pile-on, as Evelyn got the benefit of a posse civitas.

• Sharon Johnson, former director of homeless services of the city of San Diego writes in to CityBeat to support the publication’s reporting on the homeless and redevelopment and adds,

Although I am aware of many of the good and important works of redevelopment in the early years, I sadly agree that CCDC is experiencing mission creep in diverting housing funds to pay a developer to be a consultant rather than using that funding to pay for housing projects. This is a misuse of these designated funds, in my opinion, even if corporate attorneys have found an obscure path to allow the redirection of funds.

• In the Wall Street Journal, Steve Greenhut, director of the Pacific Research Institute‘s Journalism Center, lays out his arguments in favor of killing of redevelopment agencies, or, as he describes them, “fiefdoms that run up enormous debt and abuse eminent domain.”

In the 12 years I’ve spent reporting on this issue, I’ve seen an agency attempt to bulldoze an entire residential neighborhood and transfer the land to a theme-park developer. I’ve witnessed agencies declare eminent domain against churches —which pay few taxes — in order to sell the property at a deep discount to big-box stores that promise to keep city coffers flush.

Items quoted here may be lightly edited for spelling, grammar, or style (such as using proper capitalization, removing extra exclamation marks, or fixing obvious typos). Send comments you’d like to have included here to Grant Barrett, engagement editor for voiceofsandiego.org: grant@voiceofsandiego.org or (619) 550-5666 or @grantbarrett on Twitter.

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