The backers of an expansion of the Convention Center are now saying they’ll need to dip into city general-fund coffers to help pay for it. The potential bill: $60 million over the next 20 years.

The money would come from the same strained accounts that have failed to keep up with the costs of everything from police and fire services to libraries and recreation centers. What gives? A better question might be “Who gives in?” If the boosters get what they want, City Council members who’d previously questioned using that money for the expansion will need to agree.

Expansion supporters say taxes on visitors who stay at a new hotel will take care of things, and the city coffers will benefit overall. But, as Liam Dillon reports, “the city likely will be on the hook if the economic projections don’t pan out.”

• The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the funding shortfall of San Diego’s new central library.

A Downtown Death Stuns Occupy SD

A man fell to his death from a parking garage near the Occupy San Diego protest in downtown yesterday, the Union-Tribune reports. Police originally thought he committed suicide, but later the county medical examiner said the man was trying to hang fliers (NBC7 San Diego).

Our Sam Hodgson captured extraordinary photos of moments of grief shortly after the man died as protesters expressed their shock and horror. A candlelight vigil was held in honor of the man.

The witnesses will not forget what they saw and heard. In 2008, I wrote a personal story about my own encounter with the shock of suicide some 20 years ago. Between 300 and 400 people die of suicide in the county each year; deaths by jumping from high places are less common than other methods.

We’ve got more about Occupy San Diego below.

Adding Up the District’s Math Failures

“There are high schools with as low as 5 percent of the students proficient in math,” a San Diego school district board member said last month. Could that possibly be true? It is, San Diego Fact Check finds.

Arroyo Paseo Charter High School in City Heights finished last with just 1.8 percent of students demonstrating proficiency in math, compared to the best scoring school, Scripps Ranch High, with 57 percent. Check our roundup of scores at all the district’s high schools. One tidbit of note: Mira Mesa High is near the top in third place, scoring better than two schools in areas considered to be more upscale — La Jolla High and University City High.

San Diego Fact Check TV has false verdicts coming out its ears: it finds a councilman is wrong about last year’s Prop. D, while the city firefighters union chief misses the mark with a claim about declining numbers of volunteer firefighters in the county.

San Diego Flashback: Booze, Bungling and Betrayal

If you caught the Ken Burns/PBS documentary about Prohibition last week, you saw how a ban on most forms of alcohol spawned plenty of crime and corruption. San Diego was hardly immune, and a boozy scandal erupted over the city’s tolerance for hooch during the waning days of the Roaring Twenties.

As I write in a history flashback, the city powers appreciated the money that flowed into town during conventions — imagine that! — and allegedly looked the other way when visitors descended in search of a nice nip.

But things went awry when thirsty American Legion members got ready for their convention here. It’s a tale of bootleggers, a raid, an emergency meeting of bigwigs at the U.S. Grant Hotel, and even a hint of a campaign-donation payoff. At the center of it all: the mayor and the police chief.

The Play’s the (Outdoor) Thing

Local arts organizations have to just face it: The outdoors is an attraction that keeps some people from wanting to head indoors to watch a performance. The La Jolla Playhouse is trying out one solution: an outdoor audio play, one of a series of performances in non-traditional locales.

You can catch the play at San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly known as Quail Botanical Gardens) in Encinitas, where an iPod and a map take you where you need to go and listen.

Seeking Help from Parents of Special Ed Kids

Reporter Will Carless has been examining how San Diego district schools have transferred many special-education kids into regular classrooms. Now he’s seeking to hear from “parents whose children went through this process and the teachers and principals who re-wrote those individualized education program documents. How was this explained to parents and students?”

Occupy SD as Home Away from Home

Some protesters are making Occupy San Diego their home indefinitely. “This is my full-time job now,” a Mesa College student told the U-T. She plans to sleep there and ride the bus to classes.

A police official told the paper that “encampments outside City Hall” are illegal, but the cops are allowing them. Still, the police have been discussing the removal of tents with organizers.

The U-T story also recaps the chatter among the protesters before their Friday march: “You could hear passionate conversations about everything from health care grievances and sad mortgage stories to generalized fat-cat-related fury and the inevitable JFK conspiracy theories.” (The whole thing was “as threatening as a gaggle of Lutherans on their way to an ice-cream social,” wrote the U-T’s Logan Jenkins.)

Meetings were also on the agenda, including nightly confabs before the march that “got bogged down by the group’s determination to hear every last opinion — no matter how harebrained, off-topic or uninformed.”

It turns out that meetings are a tedious but apparently necessary part of demonstrations. “This was exactly how I spent my college years, which were theoretically dedicated to creating a more humane society and stopping the war in Vietnam, but, in reality, mainly involved meetings,” New York Times columnist Gail Collins recalls. “Endless meetings in which it was alleged that the winner was the person who managed to remain sitting while everyone else toppled over with boredom.”

Who knew Thanksgiving with the family had so much in common with protest meetings?

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

Randy Dotinga

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

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