Hoteliers in San Diego had figured it all out. They’d found a way to raise the historically low, and always coveted, hotel-room tax without a public vote — and they got to keep the money for their own promotion.

When they went for an even bigger bite, looking to crank it up again to fund a Convention Center expansion, they again had city leaders on their side.

Quickly, however, their efforts have unraveled as labor unions and the Chargers have exploited weaknesses in hoteliers’ arguments and seen their own opportunities. Now hoteliers not only have competition for that cherished slice of tax revenue, they might need to go to voters next year just to claim it, setting the stage for what Liam Dillon calls a potentially “galactic fight.”

“If the rhetoric is to be believed, the future of the Chargers in San Diego, big conventions like Comic-Con, thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenues would be at stake,” he writes in a guide to where we are now and how we got here.

Mayoral Poll: Public Transportation

We asked the mayoral candidates what role they would take on in the region’s public transportation efforts. The response: Carl DeMaio seems focused on fixing city streets: Bonnie Dumanis does too, but also said connecting Lindbergh Field to the trolley line should be a priority; and of the major candidates Nathan Fletcher most advocated for public transit: “Our challenge is to create alternatives that effectively compete with private automobiles.”

VOSD Wins National Award

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We were touched by some good news this weekend: One of journalism’s leading institutions, the Online News Association, gave its award for General Excellence in the small site category.

The award is given to the organization that “successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of digital tools and represents the highest journalistic standards.”

We were especially humbled considering the other winners and finalists. BBC News won the award for large site, and The Globe and Mail in Toronto won for medium site. I’m still personally trying to figure out how we beat out the other finalists in our category, Pulitzer-Prize winning ProPublica, the Texas Tribune, California Watch and PBS’ Frontline — all of whom inspire and inform our efforts every day.

• If you’re interested in understanding more about how we go about our reporting and storytelling, check out our goals and guidelines for reporters. They’re a window into how we make decisions and what we see as our role in the community. Journalism thinker and New York University professor Jay Rosen published them on Friday as an example of how to avoid the “he said, she said” genre of journalism.

• Did you know we’re a nonprofit that relies on donations? You can support this effort to make San Diego a better place by donating here.

Fix San Diego: Sewage Spills, Vacant Lots

We’ve been posting your thoughts for Fix San Diego. Reader John Rimer wants San Diego to take a fresh look at vacant lots. Joe Martin has a simple request: Do not tolerate sewage spills. Tom Channick says don’t be so quick to bid the Chargers farewell, while Christopher Glenn says government shouldn’t be worrying about football.  And Darrel Lawrence has an idea for an old, old ship.

What’s your thought on what’s right and wrong about San Diego and how you would fix it?

Photos from Chargers Win and a Final Padres Broadcast

• Hey, a win’s a win, right? Sam Hodgson got nice and close to the action to grab images from the Chargers’ slim victory over the previously woeful Kansas City Chiefs. His newer, wider blog really makes the football shots pop. (Spoiler alert: There’s even a dripping mohawk.)

• The Padres’ longtime partnership with Cox Channel 4 draws to a close this week.  It’d been the source of some controversy, as it for a long time made games available only to Cox cable customers. Now, the Union-Tribune says it’s believed the rights have been purchased by Fox Sports, which will create a regional sports network.

The Prez Comes to SD

President Obama is scheduled to be in San Diego today as part of a West Coast tour for fundraising and to tout his jobs plan. (NBC 7 San Diego)

School District Takes School Closure Plans to Neighborhoods

It’s a logical but politically nightmarish solution to budget problems: Closing schools.

San Diego Unified has begun taking those plans to the 10 areas, known in education speak as “clusters,” that it has identified for possible closures. (KPBS)

School closures will only make a small dent. The district faces a $58 million shortfall and each closed school saves the district $500,000. (NBC 7 San Diego) A school finance official says the district will weigh schools’ size and achievement and the ability of nearby schools to absorb students when making the decisions.

Local Boy Makes Good, Changes Baseball, Is Played By Brad Pitt in Movie

Billy Beane was a baseball star at Mt. Carmel High School. His rise to fame has a curious beginning though. He was a total flop in the Major Leagues. That led Beane to rethink how baseball players are evaluated.

The rest is history. Beane adopted new advanced statistics developed by baseball outsiders, allowing his small-market Oakland A’s to compete with the big boys. The tale became the hit book “Moneyball,” which is now a movie starring Brad Pitt.

The New York Times Magazine takes a look at Beane’s possible next step now that the rest of baseball has adopted his methods and his distinct advantage has been essentially wiped out.

World’s Largest Cloud (Computing, That Is) Hovers in San Diego

The San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD says it’s launched the world’s largest academic cloud storage system. (Engadget)

The center does some cool things. We’ve explored how worried it is about how little we really know about the internet and how it’s using its supercomputing power to recycle failed drugs for other uses.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled dog surf-a-thon.

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at or 619.325.0526.

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