In four years, the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit — which she proclaimed would focus on political corruption — has gone after just three local politicians. Instead of the big fish, it’s focused on the minnows, prosecuting dozens of rank-and-file public employees.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the fact that the unit exists has politicians on the alert that that they’ll get in trouble if they break the law. She adds that scandal doesn’t necessarily mean that a politician can be prosecuted for wrongdoing, and she said the unit’s decisions have nothing to do with her own political leanings. 

“Politics doesn’t enter into the decision-making of a prosecutor,” said Dumanis, who promised to avoid endorsing candidates for office and then changed her mind and did just that. “Whether or not someone likes me has not been my motivating factor.”

A good-government advocate said district attorneys aren’t exactly raring to prosecute politicians. “Typically, it’s a no-win in terms of advancing your career and moving into other political positions because you’re alienating the people that are going to help you,” he said.

Wait, district attorneys might work in political ways? Good heavens!

Pensions for Criminals

If prosecutors go after San Diego city employees, they may get their man (or woman), but not all of their money. If city employees are convicted of a crime, even a felony, they’ll still get their pensions, according to the U-T. (Some elected officials are exempted.) 

I was reminded of this the other night when the true-crime TV show “48 Hours: Mystery” noted that an Canadian Air Force colonel who was convicted of two murders will still get a $60,000 annual pension

The governor and a state senator here in California is pushing to change the law so public employees could lose their pensions if they’re convicted of a felony. And the city ballot measure now being floated by local GOP and business leaders would take pensions away from felony convicts

The Savings that Didn’t Save Much

Remember Prop. D? It failed miserably at the ballot last year as voters refused to raise sales taxes in return for financial reform at City Hall. The mayor went ahead and pushed for the promised Prop. D reforms anyway, completing seven of them. The grand total of savings so far: about $1.5 million

That’s a small drop in a very big bucket when the city thinks it will have a deficit of almost $57 million. 

“The number shows how little immediate savings the city can count on from major fiscal reform proposals — even those that promised to be part of the answer to the city’s problems,” Liam Dillon reports.  

Well, They Could Sculpt a Gun Maybe

In our regular roundup of comments and opinions on the site, former shipbuilder Dick Vortmann pleads with the youth of the city to care about municipal finances, another reader decries San Diego’s mediocrity (“I hate to break it to Hizzoner, but he is not presiding over a ‘great’ city”), and another its spending on arts instead of cops (“Next time you’re getting burglarized, call a sculptor”). Finally, we look at the litany of responses (one downright biblical) to Scott Lewis’ explanation last week of the newest pension reform measure. This is a great frequent addition to the newly revived Café San Diego.

Sketchy School Inspectors Still on Job

A couple years ago, the school district in Rancho Santa Fe hired an inspector to watch over a $37 million reconstruction project of two schools. And why not hire this guy? The Division of the State Architect had cleared him to be a school inspector to watch out for things like possible earthquake hazards. 

But the oversight agency hadn’t looked into his background, California Watch reports. The inspector “had been convicted of a felony in a construction safety case and fired from the inspector program in Los Angeles.”

There’s more: “Nearly 300 inspectors have been cited by the state for work-related deficiencies. But at least two thirds were allowed to keep monitoring school construction jobs, a review of state performance ratings shows… Internal e-mails, project records and other documents show that multiple inspectors working on school construction jobs have been accused of filing false reports with state regulators and failing to show up during key moments of construction.”

California Watch also found signs of cozy ties between the oversight agency and the construction industry. 

County General Plan Update Keeps Poking Along

This Wednesday, the county board of supervisors will look again at plans to revamp the region’s blueprint known as the General Plan. But it’s not the first or last time: they’ve been at this for quite a while, and there are more meetings to come, although one county supervisor says it’s time to act. “I think the public expects us to get this done,” Pam Slater-Price tells the North County Times. 

Sounds like a case of do something or get off the, um, podium. But if and when the supervisors do take action, they may pay a political price. As the NCT notes, backcountry property owners are mad about aspects of the plan that would limit what they can do with their land, while environmentalists say it doesn’t do enough to protect nature. 

Give Her a Wide Berth

Former local state Assemblywoman Mary Salas “drove her state car into a post on one trip, into a concrete guardrail on another and later ran a red light, hitting a vehicle. Her four claims cost nearly $28,000,” reports the Sacramento Bee in a story about how accidents in cars issued to legislators cost taxpayers more than $768,000 in five years. 

There’s no truth to the rumor that the ex-lawmaker’s new nickname is “Gangway!” 

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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