Seven homeless people in the county annually cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars each. Another 16 transients cost $250,000 to $500,000 every year. Now, advocates are launching a program to help people like them find a place to live and stop requiring so much care.

“It’s more expensive to ignore the problem than confront the problem,” said the commissioner of the United Way’s Plan to End Chronic Homelessness yesterday. The numbers are pretty amazing: Just seventeen of the transients “had an average of 16 ambulance rides, 17 emergency room visits and five inpatient medical stays a year,” the NCT reports.”The cost is estimated at $218,552.”

So far, though, only a few homeless people have been helped. In part, that’s because the transients in need aren’t easy to find.

A 2006 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell tells a similar story of a homeless man who cost Nevada more than a million dollars. He spoke to NPR about it, too.

The School Librarian is Out. Permanently.

Now here’s a surprise: city library users, who are facing cuts in branch hours to 18.5 hours a week, may be the lucky ones, at least compared to San Diego’s young schoolchildren. More than a quarter of the city’s elementary school libraries aren’t scheduled to have anyone staffing them.

Keeping them open isn’t as easy as finding some warm bodies or just unlocking their doors all day. “Replacing library workers with volunteers is against state law. Giving their work to other employees could get principals in hot water with the unions,” Emily Alpert reports. “And just throwing the doors open without someone to manage the library could ramp up the risk of books going missing, as they travel to other schools or go home with kids and never come back.”

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If you’re thinking something like “Hey, can’t the kids just go online?” think again. School libraries actually help kids learn how to use the Internet in the first place.

County Schools Chief Rapped over Fines

The Oakland Tribune reports that the head of county schools here amassed millions in fines and other charges from the state for fiscal mismanagement during his tenure at the school district in Oakland.

Who Knew You Could Rent a Teleprompter?

CityBeat digs into the taxpayer-paid expenses of Councilman Carl DeMaio to see if he’s really protecting the public from unnecessary spending. They find that “San Diego’s self-proclaimed ‘taxpayer watchdog’ has, for the last two years, outspent his colleagues on things like postage, printed materials, technical services and office supplies.” And not just by a little.

Expenses include $1,680 to rent teleprompters, $162.50 for fake plants from Michaels to decorate a stage (classy!), and “$815 to rent booths at community events outside his district.” DeMaio declined to respond to CityBeat.

Speaking of city budgets, we’ve created a graphic that shows how the mayor wants to allocate the next budget to various things like cops, firefighters and those possibly cutback-bound library and parks/recreation services. One interesting thing: the spending for all the libraries would be about as much as the city spends on its attorneys.

Click for the full image.

Um, What?

The mayor has a way with words, as we’ve noted, and he’s come up with another memorable turn of phrase: “After it was over, I said ‘You know, I’m not throwing my sucker in the dirt and now just decimating things just to show you that I was right.’” He made the comment in a U-T story about how the Prop D campaign’s doom-and-gloom talk of public safety cuts didn’t come to pass.

Ready, Set, Snipe

Republicans and Democrats are already sniping over the makeup of a panel that’s working to adjust City Council districts in the city and create a new ninth one. The U-T says there’s been a back-and-forth over whether panel members are impartial. (Better to be partisan than clueless, I suppose.)

The first community meeting was held Tuesday. The U-T quotes one resident as expressing hope that we’ll grow “to a place that no matter what you look like, no matter where you came from, no matter what your background, no matter what language you speak, I’ll trust you to do the right thing for my community.”

That’s one dream that may need to be deferred. A long list of groups — including Asians, Latinos, blacks and gays — are pushing to make sure they’re represented on the council, and it’s hard to imagine the powers that be will ignore collective bids to keep (or expand) their collective influence.

Quick, Bodice Be Gone!

Now here’s a challenge: how fast could you change out of a fancy dress, bodice and lace-up boots and into a nightgown? The ever-friendly “ladies” at Lips might have some thoughts about the matter. Or you could ask Missy West, costume director of San Diego Opera’s “Faust” production. She’s managed to get the process down to 28 seconds for a singer who doesn’t have time to waste on her waist.

“The bodice’s laces are set up so they can be tugged open and the whole thing comes off with a whoosh…,” writes Roxana Popescu. “There are a few other sleights of hand. The petticoat, once a separate item, got sewn into the dress, so both can come off together. The boots may look stiff and antiquated, but actually the elastic laces let them come right off.” And the singer has the nightgown on underneath.

Our writer also is on hand when the opera faces a last-minute crisis: a crucial singer got sick, and a replacement needed to be found pronto. But there was a big list of requirements which narrowed the list of potential replacements to … two. Yes, two.


And so it goes. A bank-robber suspect accused of being the “Ho-Hum Bandit” is in custody. Oh well. Whatever.

Hope It Wasn’t Windy There

A 44-year-old San Diego man ran the Boston Marathon the other day wearing a loincloth but no shoes. The barefoot runner was mobbed by admiring females, reports the Boston Herald, which calls him a “wannabe Neanderthal.”

He didn’t drag the women home by their hair, though, so he definitely doesn’t belong in a New Yorker caveman cartoon.

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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