A top booster for San Diego’s tourism industry wants the City Council to boost hotel taxes for 40 years. He also said something that gives our Scott Lewis a bad case of the heebie-jeebies: “Let us be a competitor with manufacturing, let us be a competitor with the military and biotech.”

Really? Rivals? Lewis notes the downsides of competitors — they don’t exactly play for the same team — and writes that the tourism industry has things pretty well in hand already.

“We’ve allowed them to create their own tax,” he writes. “We’re about to hand the next generation a large portfolio of crumbling city assets — streets, buildings and infrastructure that are falling into disrepair and only get more costly the longer we wait to fix them. And yet we’re pushing to build a new Convention Center downtown. The visitor industry is pleading with the city to let it compete in a game it has already won.”

Labor-Backed Ads Bash ‘Pushy’ Signature Gatherers

“Are you a registered voter in the city of San Diego?” It’s a question that many of us have learned to dread when we’re just innocently trying to buy a gallon of milk at the supermarket.


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One organization in particular is annoyed by pesky people asking for signatures on ballot-initiative petitions. It’s Californians Against Identity Theft, supported by a group with a not-so-obvious interest in this topic: labor.

The anti-identity group is even running a radio ad warning that the petition gatherers are a threat to privacy, the Sacramento Bee reports. They insinuate that signing a petition puts signers at risk of having their identites stolen.

Councilman Carl DeMaio, who’s supporting a pension reform initiative in San Diego, has filed a complaint about the ad (KPBS) with the state attorney generals’ office; a state election watchdog agency dismissed another complaint. DeMaio says the ad is “deceptive.”

So will signing a petition threaten put you at risk of identity theft? California Public Interest Research Group legislative director Pedro Morillas said in a press release, “There is as much risk of identity theft involved in signing a petition as there is in being listed in the phone book.”

An election researcher at UCSD (and contributor to our site) tells KPBS plenty of seemingly private information is already available. “For example, on my computer I have a database of all the voters in San Bernardino County. I not only have their addresses and birth dates, I know if they have a cat or dog. I know what language they speak at home. I know how many kids they have. I know how old their kids are.”

For a few bucks, the Internet will cough up similar information about many people, such as their political party, email addresses, interests (such as sports), names of relatives and roommates, and the value of their home. One site, which is annoying an anti-crime activist in La Mesa (according to patch.com), will provide a map of your neighborhood along with phone numbers of the folks who live near you.

A Big Oops in City Redistricting

Uh-oh: The city’s plan to redraw the boundaries of its electoral districts will leave a few neighborhoods without a City Council member until December 2012.

But before you folks in City Heights, Kensington-Talmadge and the College Area start doing your best Glenn Close imitation (“I will not be ignored!”), be aware that council members are working on a solution that will allow you to still be represented. It might mean a lot of extra work for one councilman’s staff, though, even though there’s no extra money to pay for it.

Supervisor Horn’s Memory Back on Track

San Diego Fact Check recently bestowed a rare and uncoveted “Huckster Propaganda” verdict on County Supervisor Bill Horn for making numerous false claims in the tale he spun about being a civil rights activist in the 1960s. However, we couldn’t determine the truth behind one of Horn’s claims, that he’d worked for Ralph Abernathy, a top aide to Martin Luther King Jr.

The claim seemed suspicious because Abernathy apparently never led any efforts in California. A spokesman for Horn told us that his memory had faded. But this week, the public finally got an answer from the supervisor himself. Horn responded to a question at a board of supervisors meeting by saying he “did not specifically work for Ralph Abernathy. I was 19 years old. I heard him speak… I didn’t want to give the impression I worked specifically for him. I worked for CORE,” the Congress of Racial Equality.

• You can help San Diego Fact Check get to the truth and uncover the misleading and false statements of the reality-challenged in our public life. We’ve created a eye-catching poster about Fact Check that you can stick on the wall to encourage people to submit claims for us to investigate.

Behind the Spared Teacher Jobs

San Diego Explained, our video series with NBC7 San Diego, looks at how the city’s schools were able to spare some teacher jobs but may still face plenty of budget drama.

There Goes the Experiment

Researchers at UCSD are out with a new study that finds a component of chocolate appears to help boost the exercise tolerance of middle-aged couch-potato mice. So should you chow down on chocolate chip cookies before a run? Not necessarily. There’s no research in people yet. And the amount of chocolate needed for humans — dark chocolate is best — would be tiny, much less than many of us would be able to eat without demanding more.

Case in point: One of the study authors tells the NYT that his colleagues like to swipe his dark-chocolate bars and eat them whole. “I keep telling them that’s too much. But it doesn’t matter. They want to eat the whole thing, and they do.”

Leave some for the mice, people. Also: “Squeak!”

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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