Next year’s primary election is still a year away, but the battle for mayor is already shaping up to be the marquee race on the local ballot for political junkies. We have two new definite candidates, just in time for fundraising to begin: As the U-T reports, Councilman Carl DeMaio and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher officially declared this weekend.

Add in District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and you have three formally in the race and a couple of big-name Democrats still testing the waters.

The weekend announcements were about as surprising as June gloom. DeMaio, never one for subtlety, has virtually tattooed his political aspirations on his forehead, while Fletcher has been busy raising his public profile. Still, it’s possible that neither has been in office long enough to make an impression on voters who don’t closely follow local politics; they may not yet be household names. 

Other than Dumanis, the other major buzzed-about candidates who’ve been around for a while — state Sen. Christine Kehoe and Rep. Bob Filner — haven’t declared quite yet. Councilman Kevin Faulconer hasn’t yet said what he’ll do.

As for the whippersnapper factor (DeMaio and Fletcher are in their mid-30s), San Diego has had several mayors who hadn’t reached 40, including Pete Wilson, Roger Hedgecock and Maureen O’Connor. The youngest of all SD mayors was just 28 and had an awesome mustache to boot. 

No-Pension Plan’s Inconvenient Truth

Next to the mayoral primary next June there will be another big decision for voters: a plan to convert most new San Diego city workers to 401(k) plans instead of pensions. It’s getting national attention. But one inconvenient fact isn’t quite so ballyhooed: the fact that the crown jewel of the proposal, that 401(k) switch, won’t resolve the city’s $2.1 billion pension deficit.

In fact, the plan might cost the city more in the short term. “For now, backers are insisting 401(k)s will save money, but aren’t saying much else. They still have a year to make their case,” Liam Dillon reports. “When they do, they might not have to prove how much 401(k)s save, but whether they save anything at all.”

In the City but Not of the City

High-speed internet? Nah. Cable TV? Nope. They simply aren’t available in this remote part of the city of San Diego. Where is it? In San Pasqual, up by Escondido. We dropped by there last week as we explore the city’s wildly different neighborhoods.

We were sent to a woman who knew the neighborhood’s history well. And she already knew there were visitors afoot — she’d heard about a white Prius driving around. “It’s a small valley,” she said.

Even smaller now. The fires of 2007 devastated the valley and destroyed homes where farm workers lived. They and the houses haven’t returned.

Next on tap in our whirlwind tour of the city: Nestor. Stay tuned.

SD’s Black History in Photos

The San Diego History Center has debuted its exhibit of 40 years of photographs of black history from the Logan Heights neighborhood, most of them unseen for decades until historians began tracking down the identities of people, places and events. “The amount of detail in the background stories gives depth and substance to the photographs as well as the exhibition,” the history center’s executive director says. “The stories provide a glimpse into the community’s identity and its flourishing middle class.”

Also in arts, our “Behind the Scene” TV segment looks at how the San Diego Museum of Art is trying to answer the question “What does a city need?” (Um, I’m right here, people!)

Going Behind the Police Meltdown

San Diego Explained, our video series with NBC San Diego, explores what could be behind the rash of misconduct charges against city cops.

VOSD Members: Convention Expansion Tough to Swallow

We have a new feature we’re playing with: We poll VOSD’s 1,300 members for their opinions on the big issues facing the region.

This time, we asked our members if an expansion of the Convention Center is the best way to spend an increase in hotel-room taxes. Fifty-nine percent said no, and of those, nearly one-third thought the money should instead be spent on basic services. The question spurred some thoughtful responses from prominent people around town.

Ex-Tijuana Mayor Arrested

Jorge Hank Rhon, who the LA Times calls “a flamboyant casino mogul and one of Mexico’s wealthiest men,” was arrested this weekend after a 4 a.m. raid on his estate resulted in the seizure of 88 weapons and more than 9,000 rounds of ammunition. He denies knowledge of the weapons, according to the UT.

“Hank has long been a divisive figure in Tijuana, viewed by some as a generous politician, by others as a man above the law,” the LA Times writes. He’s also known for his drink of choice and its, well, exotic ingredients.

Local Circumcision Foe Gets Called Out

The Anti-Defamation League has accused a San Diego man’s anti-circumcision comic book “Foreskin Man” of containing “grotesque anti-Semitic imagery,” the NYT reports. The man has become a spokesman for the anti-circumcision movement and wrote a measure banning the procedure — even for religious reasons — that San Francisco voters will consider in the fall. Santa Monica voters may get their own measure in 2012. “This is the furthest we’ve gotten, and it is a huge step for us,” the activist says.

Is such a ban even legal? Maybe. “Several legal experts said it was far from certain that it would be struck down in a court,” the NYT said.

Rockin’, Rollin’

More than 26,000 runners turned out for this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, coming from all 50 states and 23 countries. (UT)

London Calling, but Not For a Discount

British Airways is making it easier once again for the Britain-bound: the airline has reintroduced its non-stop flights to London from San Diego. The U-T talks to the airline’s CEO, who says there’s no need to offer introductory fares on the route.

That’s a shame. I was planning to jump on a plane to London the next time I need some clotted cream. (Whatever that is.)

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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