So much for that. The stunningly small number of murders in San Diego last year — the lowest since 1968, when the city had a much smaller population — hasn’t continued into 2011. There have been 29 murders so far this year, the same as in all of last year. And it’s not even August yet.

What happened? “Police have faced rising gang-related tensions in southeastern San Diego neighborhoods,” Keegan Kyle reports. “Even before busier summer months, violence spurred retaliatory shootings, press conferences, peace rallies and funerals.”

In particular, the Mountain View neighborhood in southeastern San Diego has arguably turned into the city’s homicide hub, with three murders this year.

Paying for a Crowd in CV

The U-T finds that a local Republican Party official paid at least 50 people to pack a council hearing over mobile-home rent control in Chula Vista. One person said he got $40 in cash to show up.

The party official seems unapologetic and “noted that lawyers, consultants and union employees are often paid to attend such meetings.” The GOP party chairman told the paper that “The party did not do this. But it’s done all the time. Elected officials, they know this goes on.”

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“Sleazy in the extreme, if not illegal,” said a good-government watchdog. A councilman isn’t pleased either.

Still a Black Council District After All This Change

The city of San Diego has about 8,000 fewer African-American residents than it did 10 years ago, a fact that might seem likely to dilute the community’s power in city affairs. But proposed new boundaries for City Council districts have preserved a safe black seat and will actually slightly boost the percentage of blacks in the district.

There’s a funny thing about the proposed boundaries: eligible Latino voters would outnumber eligible black voters in the district. However, African-Americans are better organized politically, giving them outsized influence when it comes to electing a councilperson.

Is Free Rent a Reportable Gift? Seems So

If a San Diego school board member does actually live in her own district — a claim that we questioned this week — she seems to be paying no rent to live in a district employee’s house. Does she need to report the rent as a gift, which she hasn’t? We’ve got some background and a comment from a state election watchdog official.

Defending the Affordable Housing System

We found that it cost almost $600 million to build about 2,100 affordable housing units in San Diego. In a commentary, an official with the downtown urban renewal agency says his agency and others “strive to provide affordable housing as cost effectively as possible while complying with rules established by governing entities.”

Governor Still Miffed Over SDSU Chief’s Salary

Governor Brown told the LAT that the state’s public universities need to stop hiring expensive “hired guns.” The recent hiring of San Diego State’s new president at $400,000-plus set off anger due to the high salary and its bad timing amid tuition hikes and the continuing decline of the state’s higher education system.

“I believe on the campuses now there are many people who don’t make near that salary that should have been groomed for leadership,” he said.

The new SDSU president, Elliot Hirshman, “would not say whether he thought his compensation was fair, nor would he speculate on whether he would have taken the job at a lower salary.” He did say “the offer to him came months before a new round of state funding cuts and tuition hikes.”

Legislators are working on bills that would make it harder to award big salaries and raises.

No Get-Out-of-Fine Card for Red Light Runners

Los Angeles is killing its red-light cameras because fines were virtually unenforceable. But don’t go tearing up your ticket from a burg in this county. “San Diego County Superior Courts have chosen to use the discretion provided under state law to go after suspects who try to avoid court or fines,” the NCT says. In other words: you can run (through a red light), but you can’t hide.

Mysteries Remain After Big Hillcrest Fire

What’s the name of the roofing company that apparently started the big Hillcrest fire earlier this month? The fire department won’t say, Uptown News reports. It’s also not clear how many nearby structures were built in a way that the fire department says contributed to the strength of the fire.

• More bad news for book-lovers: The owner of Obelisk, the giftshop/former longtime gay bookstore that was damaged by the fire, said he’s going to push the shop even more away from books and magazines and toward jewelry and clothing. (Uptown News)

SF Circumcision Vote’s Dead for Now

A San Diego man has played a major role in pushing for bans on circumcision, which he considers disfiguring and unnecessary. But he’s 0-for-2 at the moment: an effort to get a measure on the ballot in Santa Monica failed, and now a Superior Court judge has ruled that another measure is illegal and won’t go before voters in San Francisco. (LAT)

The Joy of Gerrymandering

The state is redrawing the boundaries of its congressional districts, and some people online have noticed that one Northern California seat is shaped like a schnauzer.

That inspired me to look at San Diego’s newly drawn districts. Brian Bilbray’s looks like Montana, while Bob Filner’s is an upside-down Oklahoma. And Darrell Issa’s is almost the spitting image of a pigeon on its side.

Just goes to show you: Redistricting is for the birds.

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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