Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born terrorist who was reported killed yesterday, had plenty of connections to San Diego, where enrolled in a program at San Diego State and preached at a mosque, KPBS reports with details from the Associated Press and NPR.

The New York Times explored al-Awlaki’s links to San Diego last year, including his time living at a home near 70th Street and El Cajon Boulevard. The paper says city cops twice picked him up for soliciting prostitutes.

Also in 2010, we wrote about allegations that the federal government mishandled warnings from the San Diego FBI about communications between Anwar al-Awlaki and the man allegedly behind the mass shooting at Fort Hood.

Last month, KPBS looked at the two 9/11 hijackers who lived in San Diego — one was even listed by name in the local white pages — and took flight lessons here. “There are some investigators who believe that al-Awlaki offered these men spiritual counseling for what lay ahead,” the station reports.

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Outhouse Outage Dumps a Problem on Downtown

Over the last three years, six port-o-potties located in and near downtown have prevented as many as 289 tons of human waste from ending up on the street or elsewhere. Not anymore, CityBeat reports.

The homeless advocate behind the outhouses says he’s out of patience: he can’t deal with the hassles of getting reimbursed by the city. So the port-o-potties are going to disappear.

Blame-Assigner Says San Diego Should Look Within

In their new book about San Diego’s woes, three political scientists point fingers at poor leadership, an out-of-touch public and low taxes. In this week’s Q&A feature, co-author Steve Erie, a UCSD professor and prominent City Hall critic, goes deeper and even finds other responsible parties: the sun, for instance, and our political culture.

Sure, he says, the weather here is great. “But the problem is, is that it induces sort of a sense of complacency that as long as the sun comes up everything is OK.”

As for expectations regarding government and taxes, he said, there’s a perception that “local government is a hot-bed of waste, fraud and corruption. You hear this not only from politicians but from voters all the time.” That, he says, is part of an anti-government culture.

Erie also ponders the mayoral candidates and offers this surprising opinion: he thinks Chicago’s corruption is better than our variety.

The Magic Number for Pension Reformers

We’ve been telling you about the pension reform initiative for a while. It’s the one being pushed by the GOP that would convert most new city employees to a 401(k) retirement plans instead of pensions.

Yesterday, supporters filed 145,027 petition signatures with the city; they need 94,346 valid ones from registered voters to push the measure onto the ballot. We’ve got more numbers about the pension reform effort.

Green Hair and It’s Not Even St. Patrick’s Day

We take one last look at preparations for the Old Globe’s community play “Odyssey,” which its director tells us is a “potpourri” and “a vision of a unified, joyful city.” It’s based on the epic work by Homer.

Speaking of epic, we’ve posted more photos of the green-haired and turquoise-gowned women of a certain age who play the sirens. And speaking of sirens, these ladies are quite arresting.

For more about the production, check out our seven previous posts. And for more on arts, check Behind the Scene TV’s look at swordplay on stage.

Blue Surf, Viewer’s Delight

During the day, the tide is reddish, and that’s kind of icky. At night, it’s neon blue, and that’s kind of awesome. And so it goes at the ocean over the last few days thanks to an unusual red tide. The L.A. Times has a nifty photo of the nighttime effect from the beach in Oceanside.

What’s going on? A Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor says the red and the blue are caused by an organism known as a phytoplankton. “When jostled, each organism will give off a flash of blue light created by a chemical reaction within the cell. When billions and billions of cells are jostled — say, by a breaking wave — you get a seriously spectacular flash of light.”

Jostle me, a big guy, and you won’t see any luminescence. Although somebody might yell “Timber!”


What We Learned This Week:

Library Scrambling as Due Date Approaches: With a January deadline approaching, library boosters are still short of their goal of raising enough money to allow the new downtown library to be finished. They need to raise another $25.5 million, KPBS reports.

The new library is scheduled to open in 2013.

Not So Fast, Dissolving City: San Diego’s efforts to stick specific neighborhoods with the bill for local services like tree trimming and graffiti removal ran into a buzz saw: an appeals court killed off a special tax in the Golden Hill-South Park area. But it’s not clear if this means other neighborhood taxes are in trouble too.

GOPers Want to Control Housing Reins: The City Council’s two most conservative members want more Council control over how the city’s housing agency — which is under fire — goes about its business.


Quote of the Week (tie): “We’re not sure what would happen to this town if it ever decided to pick an inspiring, charismatic individual as mayor.” — CityBeat writer John Lamb in a 2002 comment that was tweeted yesterday. It’s a great thought exercise!

Quote of the Week (tie):I certainly have not experienced ‘epic hassles.’” — reader Sandra Keener, defending the region’s public transit system in a letter to the editor that spawned a heated debate in our comments section and on our Facebook page. Many people say the system leaves much to be desired.


Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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