A few days ago, the Morning Report referred to the “epic hassle” facing people who try to cope with local public transportation. I figured my words might rub some people the wrong way, and they did. But lots of others agreed.

First, the naysayer to my naysaying. In a letter to the editor, reader Sandra Keener writes: “I live downtown and use the public transportation. I have had very few problems. I certainly have not experienced ‘epic hassles.’ If more people tried and used the time productively (relax, read, etc.), they might find … the benefits of having fewer cars on the road outweigh the occasional delays.”

My first thought, of course, was to cancel her Morning Report subscription. (How dare anyone disagree with me! Harrumph!) Then I responded, noting that my perspective is based on both my experiences and those of my brother, who relies almost entirely on buses and has countless stories of delays, inconveniences and safety concerns. Plenty of other people have weighed in, on both in our site’s comments and on our Facebook page, and most are sharply critical of public transit here.

Raymond David Lindeman II says it takes three hours to get from the Normal Heights area to Mesa College (a 10-minute drive). “I’ve been riding public transit for more than two years now — and it’s horrible!,” writes Tom Chambers. “There are very few routes that actually run on time — getting to them is ridiculous.” (Delays, of course, are bad news for any politician who wants to throw a colleague under the bus: there’s a good chance it’ll be late.)

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In a comment, David Cohen notes that the people he sees on the bus appear to be “students, disabled, low income, or transients.” His observation goes to the heart of our public transportation problem.

When I go to cities like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C. or even Los Angeles, I see people of all types on the subways, not just the poor. That’s because the subways are often more convenient than cars, even for those who have vehicles of their own. With some exceptions, driving in San Diego — which can come with its own epic hassles — is more practical and convenient than public transit. That’s why people who can afford it generally stick with their stick shifts.

Fact Checks: Firefighters and Privatization

• The head of the San Diego firefighters union, a critic of the level of fire protection spending in the county, declared in our comments section that the number of firefighter volunteers countywide has dropped from 300 to 150. San Diego Fact Check finds that his claim is false.

• This week, Councilman Carl DeMaio tried to ding his colleagues on the City Council with this zinger: “One of the 10 conditions (of last year’s Prop. D) included opening Miramar Landfill up to competitive bidding, but here they sit today saying that they’re not willing to support that. My, how things have changed when they’re not trying to get into your wallet.” Another councilman later angrily said DeMaio “decided to throw this entire council under the bus.”

San Diego Fact Check finds DeMaio’s claim is also false.

Coping with the Bolts Blackout

The Chargers are about 6,500 seats shy of the required sales for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, meaning it won’t be on local TV.

Some folks will suggest that you go out and get some sun on a Sunday for once. If you’re such a diehard fan that you feel like giving these people some creative ideas about where they can shove their ideas, never fear: You may be able to watch the game on TV after all. Check out our 2010 how-to-avoid-the-blackout story for details.

Schwarze-Who? Oh Yeah, That Guy

The previous two governors of this state didn’t exactly leave office on golden chariots of public appreciation. Gray Davis faded into history, but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s still talking up a storm. He’s the star of a new Vanity Fair magazine article about our state’s massive woes, particularly in the messed-up world of government finance.

Outside of its best part (in which a passerby mistakes Schwarzenegger for another sex-scandal-prone politician), the story chronicles why California is so broken. The world of strongly partisan politicians, term limits and ballot measures creates a “vicious cycle of contempt,” as an observer puts it.

“Politicians are elected to get things done and are prevented by the system from doing it, leading the people to grow even more disgusted with them,” writes bestselling author Michael Lewis. “California state government was designed mainly to maximize the likelihood that voters will continue to despise the people they elect.”

• Among the other stars of the article is the mayor of San Jose, which is almost as populous as San Diego. He’s painted as a truth-sayer about the threat that pension costs for government workers pose to the future of cities. San Jose is in the news for another reason: its city worker unions are willing to reduce pensions for future and current employees to avoid a big legal fight with the city. Our Liam Dillon looks at how that compares to the state of attempts to reform San Diego’s pension mess.

Longtime North County Scribe Gets Pink-Slipped

Jeff Frank, a North County Times human-interest columnist who’s written about the people of our northern hinterlands for more than 20 years, has written his final column after getting laid off. His almost-daily column appeared in the pages of the Times and its inland precursor, the (Escondido) Times Advocate, since 1990.

It’s Like the Sharks and Jets, but Somewhat Less Musical

It’s not exactly “West Side Story,” but a battle is brewing between nerds and jocks, say the hosts of VOSD Radio. It has to do with a fight that’s pitting stadium boosters against convention center expansion boosters.

Mind Her Knitting This Weekend

Our roundup of weekend arts events includes a unique one: in downtown, an artist will knit for 24 hours straight in a work called “STRICKEN.” The artist calls it “an absurd attempt at a simple task” with the goal of “reducing control over the body and process so that the results are autonomous from the intentions.”

Hey artist lady! Fall is here, and I could use a nice sweater. Hint.

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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