A blizzard of fascinating behind-the-scenes details accompanied criminal charges yesterday in the long-running story of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. and its former president and finance director.

Carolyn Smith, SEDC’s former president, and Dante Dayacap, its former finance director, each face a maximum of seven years in prison for embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds after the attorney general went public with an investigation it developed after we first revealed the clandestine system of self-dealing in 2008. Dayacap has been arrested but Smith, as of yesterday, had not.

We created this timeline of SEDC stories. Reporter Will Carless explained the basics of the news to our partners at NBC San Diego, and Editor Andrew Donohue spoke with KPBS.

The attorney general’s arrest affidavit and complaint offered a gripping description of what went on behind the scenes as Smith and Dayacap used savings from unfilled positions at the agency to reward themselves with ever growing, unapproved and undisclosed personal bonuses.

In its story, the Union-Tribune got a reaction from current SEDC President Jerry Groomes.

Redevelopment Struggles to Survive

Groomes has the challenge of not only rejuvenating the agency and spurring development in southeastern San Diego but doing that when the future of redevelopment remains in doubt. The governor still wants to eliminate redevelopment agencies across the state.

That effort hit a bit of a snag recently: the Sacramento Bee reports that the legal service to the California Legislature considers a part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan illegal.

The Bee’s Dan Walters used a recent court decision overturning National City’s effort to use eminent domain and seize a gym in order to redevelop the land to forcefully argue for a change in redevelopment.

“The National City decision offers a cogent example of why redevelopment should either be abolished, as Brown proposes, or redirected toward cleaning up real blight, not the imaginary kind,” Walters writes.

All Mail Balloting Idea Dies, for Now

The Union-Tribune reports that San Diego County’s idea to try a system of voting all via the U.S. Postal Service has petered out at the Legislature. State Sen. Christine Kehoe, who floated the law on behalf of the county and Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler, couldn’t get it out of committee. The proposal would have saved millions but county officials said it didn’t appear that the state was ready for the switch.

More than half of the county’s voters in the 2010 election sent their ballot in via mail.

Arts Report Ready

This week’s Behind the Scenes Arts Report starts with a fact check of the mayor and ends with a surfing Madonna. The report comes out every Tuesday. You can sign up to receive it via email here.

Public Art Requirement Suspended

Arts Editor Kelly Bennett was on hand for a City Council approval Tuesday to suspend a requirement that city building projects include public art.

Suspending the policy, which obliges the city to set aside 2 percent of a project’s construction costs for art, won’t save any money directly from the city’s day-to-day operating budget but funds set aside for art could be used for other things.

Print Newspaper Troubles Continue

The Press Enterprise reports that the North County Times has laid off 20 workers. The LA Times has a less-than-upbeat update on newspaper circulation numbers as well.

SDSU Local Preference

Our intern from High Tech High, Stefan Popov, opines on outgoing SDSU President Stephen Weber’s recent statements that the university should stop showing preference to local students.

His points have been making waves. The Daily Aztec, SDSU’s student newspaper, ran a column saying the local preference “pampered” local students. What do you think?

It bears mentioning that if a new ballot initiative is successful, whoever is the president of SDSU will have a seat on the commission that would appoint four of an expanded nine-member board of the San Diego Unified School District.

New Worry: Spear Phishing

The Union-Tribune has an update on the breach of security at a data center that has crippled Sony’s online PlayStation Network. The game console was becoming a powerhouse in not only gaming but movies and entertainment until hackers totally brought it down and potentially gained access to credit card information of users, including mine.

The U-T said we should be worried about “spear phishing.”

“Privacy experts say cyber criminals could have enough information to send highly customized emails or postal letters — or make phone calls — that will appear to come from Sony in hopes of tricking customers into revealing more sensitive information — such as credit card or Social Security numbers” writes the U-T.

Internet television is on its way to mainstream use. But the interface Sony uses was confusing. My wife hated it despite my pleas to be patient.

Not sure how to break the news we have to look out for spear phishing.

You can contact me directly at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!): twitter.com/vosdscott.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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