Here’s a quick roundup of some of the things we’ve been reading in the office.

• There are a couple of choice quotes in our media partner San Diego Magazine’s interview with the architect of the new central library being built in downtown San Diego, Rob Quigley.

On discouraging homeless visitors:

These new libraries are so attractive that massive numbers of citizens go there. So instead of being one homeless person for every 10 patrons, it’s one homeless person for every 1,000. There are certain things we can do from a design standpoint. I designed a special sink that you can’t bathe in.

So they will be purified by the blinding beauty of the edifice?

On why it’s hard to get anything built here:

We are slower than most cities. The conflict is not unusual; the lack of execution is. Other cities have just as many problems as we do, but they get stuff done. That’s where we fall down. We are not good closers.

• The Nation tackled the question of why mayors love sports stadiums. It’s mainly a skeptical, even cynical, look at boondoggles and failures.

For politicians eager to embrace sports deals, it’s easy to find consulting firms willing to produce glowing “economic impact studies” — even though sports economists nearly unanimously dismiss them as hogwash. For example: Economic Research Associates told the city of Arlington, Texas, that spending $325 million on a new stadium for billionaire oil baron Jerry Jones’s Dallas Cowboys would generate $238 million a year in economic activity. Critics immediately pointed out that this merely totaled up all spending that would take place in and around the stadium. Hidden deep in the report was the more meaningful estimate that Arlington would see just $1.8 million a year in new tax revenues while spending $20 million a year on stadium subsidies.

Economic Research Associates, by the way, is the same group who released a favorable report in 2009 about the proposed Convention Center expansion.

• Scott Lewis’s provocative opinion piece, which hinges on the idea that the hotel and entertainment industries act like neglected orphans when really they’re the spoiled children of overindulgent parents, is drawing fire and earning plaudits.

Lewis’s argument is that it seems as if the “visitor industry” is trying to snarf attention and resources that could, or perhaps should, be lavished on industries like biotech and the military.

VOSD commentator Vlad Kogan agrees:

It’s NOT in the interest of San Diego — except for the very narrow group of tourism interests — to somehow support this industry over biotech, manufacturing, etc.

However, Donald Yeckel argues with the idea of the “visitor industry” being any kind of competitor with the other industries that make up the economic and employment foundations of San Diego:

Scott makes too much of the word “competitor.” In a very real sense, TV news is a competitor to an online news site like VOSD, yet VOSD is a “media partner” of NBC San Diego (channel 7/707). Tourism, military, biotech, etc. operate in different markets, with different customers, and different products. It’s not like General Motors competing with Ford.

Lewis responds:

I agree with you that tourism and biotech, etc are completely different, which is why I was struck by the language of competition. They may be completely different but they might also find themselves competing for land, for transportation and infrastructure, for tax incentives and for consideration in public affairs of myriad types. It seemed clear that the city was being asked to prioritize tourism above these other industries.

• A San Diego visitor went back to Montana and left his phone in a cab here in San Diego. Via the wonders of his smartphone’s GPS, he was able to follow it all over the map in real time and, eventually, get it back.

• City Journal, an urban policy quarterly out of New York City, makes the case that California is leading in media innovation, especially on the web.

So far, however, the most fertile ground for innovation is California. The Golden State’s long-suffering newspaper industry has left many public officials unwatched and provided plenty of laid-off journalists eager to watch them. The state’s cosmopolitanism appeals to the creative professionals who tend to staff journalism startups. Efforts like Cal Watchdog — edited by Steven Greenhut, who writes regularly for City Journal — are motivated in part by alarm at dysfunction in California’s state government. And the Silicon Valley culture complements journalistic efforts: who better to spawn a new breed of watchdogs than idealistic entrepreneurs with access to money, exceptional coding skills, a libertarian political streak, and a mind-set that prizes innovation and transparency?

Poynter summarizes it. There is significant mention of California Watch and Cal Watchdog, and gets a paragraph, too. Ironically, for an article about the rise of good journalism on the web, there are no links to any of the publications.

The article is part of City Journal’s California section, which recently included an opinion recommending that California not agree that its Electoral College votes would be faithful to its popular votes in the next presidential election.

Items quoted here may have been edited for spelling, style, or clarity.

I’m Grant Barrett, engagement editor for, in part a new-fangled opinion editor. Got some strong opinions and ideas? Let me help you get them in front of tens of thousands of readers. Drop me a line at or call me at (619) 550-5666.

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