“I often tell people that I write about two things: the city’s budget and big buildings,” writes our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon. Well, that explains why he doesn’t get invited to many dinner parties. It explains something else too: the topics that preoccupy City Hall and, in particular, a lame-duck mayor who has just one year left in office.
It’ll be his seventh year running the city and his last chance to fix the problems he was elected to fix, leave a legacy and inspire future San Diegans to erect a memorial statue in his honor.
Dillon takes a quick look at the big challenges on Sanders’ plate, including the budget (maybe you’ve noticed those barely open libraries), the new downtown library (which may or may not be fully funded even though it’s being built right now), the Convention Center expansion (which you and I will pay for whether we like it or not), the bid for a new football stadium (even though we already have an old one), and more.
The Year in Song
Our arts editor Kelly Bennett is a bit of a renaissance woman. She writes, she edits, she plays violin in a band, and she sits around looking pretty so the rest of us don’t have to. Now it turns out that she writes songs too, and — here’s the twist! — she actually convinced people to sing one of them.
Check our video of the San Diego Master Chorale, a choir that performs concerts and sings alongside the San Diego Symphony, as it performs Bennett’s ode to the year in local news.
Behind the Raids in South Bay
We’re now beginning to understand why county prosecutors raided a bunch of homes earlier this month: affidavits reveal that prosecutors think “officials at two South County school districts regularly hit up contractors for expensive dinners, theater and sports tickets and other gifts,” the U-T reports.
The districts are Sweetwater (which runs South Bay’s middle and high schools) and Southwestern (which runs a community college).
If the allegations are true, it sounds like one mammoth scandal.
News at the Speed of Brief
• The neon Hillcrest sign that watched over the neighborhood from 1984 until last August is up for auction, SDGLN.com reports. There’s a catch, though, in case you were thinking of storing it in your (big) back yard. It has to be displayed in Hillcrest.
But what will the new sign think when the old sign refuses to bow out gracefully?
• The U-T is publishing a recap of the year’s top 25 most popular stories about the Chargers’ bid for a new football stadium.
• The latest episode of the VOSD Radio podcast is live. Our Andrew Donohue and Scott Lewis tackle holiday cravings, the prospect of municipal bankruptcy, the cause of the school district’s woes and hand out thier Hero and Goat of the Week.
• In Fact Check TV, they examine a suspicious claim that suggests the $520 million Convention Center expansion won’t touch the the city’s sacred day-to-day budget.
• U-T editor Jeff Light answered questions about the newspaper’s approach under new ownership on his Facebook page. He says the ownership’s support for the community and solutions “doesn’t mean they are going to monkey with the news report in an unethical way.”
He adds: “If you are asking whether our reporters will submit to some sort of directive or pressure or incentive to slant the news, the answer is a) no, that is not going to happen, and b) you obviously don’t know reporters very well.”
He’s right that reporters don’t like to be led around. And although some readers don’t believe it, they’re also much more interested in conflict and good stories than protecting politicians they like.
But reporters aren’t in charge. Every reporter has to accept editing and the priorities of their bosses, who all have their own beliefs about what news is and isn’t. What’s at issue now is whether the U-T’s definitions of news — call them its slant if you want — will change for better or worse.
The Immaculate Comment-tion
As we told you yesterday, new U-T owner Doug Manchester ruffled some feathers with a religious-oriented Christmas message on the front page of his paper. Commenters responded to the story on the newspaper’s website, but later the U-T told the commenters to get lost and shut the comments down.
National media blogger Jim Romenesko asked Light what happened. He responded that a debate broke out “about competing religious dogma, the historical accuracy of Catholic doctrine, and the virtues of the writer.”
“I thought all of that was way off base,” Light wrote. “My reaction was, hey, it’s Christmas, let it go. Someone tried, in their own way, to say something nice, and now we’re headed for acrimony and debate. Not every utterance needs a response on every occasion.”
Does too! Does too!
Meanwhile, former U-Ter Gerry Braun, who now works for the Mayor’s Office, chimed in with this thought via Twitter: “If U-T editor wouldn’t subject his publisher to crazy on-line commenters, why not protect everyone?”
Yikes. First they came for the loopy online commenters who get all bent out of shape over nothing, but I wasn’t a … oh wait. I am one. Never mind!