Councilman Carl DeMaio generates plenty of heat, but can he get votes while annoying big chunks of the local power structure? District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis believes in popular positions, but will voters demand the details she hasn’t provided? Rep. Bob Filner is a Democrat, but is that enough, especially if some local Dems aren’t fans? And does someone who’s little known outside of insiders — cough Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher cough — have a chance?

As we explain, these questions are facing the top four rivals for the mayor’s job.

DeMaio, by the way, is out with a list of rules about the debates he’ll deign to participate in. Among them: no candidate-to-candidate questions and no sole sponsorship by CityBeat or the Reader, a not-at-all-surprised CityBeat reports.

• This week, the New Yorker published a blog post about the GOP primary race titled “Top Five Electoral Outcomes Journalists Are Secretly Rooting For.” So what do local journos want to see happen in the mayor race? For pure political fireworks, I personally hope to see DeMaio vs. Filner in November. That race between two decidedly non-humble rivals would chap the paint off a barn.

Balboa Park’s Wisecracking Sculptor

With the help of eyes sharpened by an almost 40-year career in engineering, La Jolla sculptor Ruth Hayward has brought local pioneers Ellen Browning Scripps and Kate Sessions to life, while also capturing the wry essence of comedian Lily Tomlin.

While she mostly has sculpted women, three of Hayward’s most public sculptures are of men with the names of Morse, Horton and Marston. Along with Sessions, the trio helped build and preserve Balboa Park. Statutes of all four stand near the Cabrillo Bridge, their images lovingly preserved for future generations.   

It makes sense that she’d sculpt people known for their humor and grit: Hayward has been a pioneer herself, and she’s no slouch in the wit or toughness departments.

In this week’s Q&A, Hayward talks about working in the “Mad Men” era, finding a calling after retirement and capturing the past in bronze. She also ponders the future of San Diego and Balboa Park while considering an era when businesspeople had more than money in mind.  

My, What a Big Whopper You Have

Speaking of mayoral candidates, none of them landed among our four finalists for Whopper of the Year, although the current mayor did, along with a county supervisor, a school board member and a major player in convention center hoopla. Next up: Help us figure out which tall tale deserves the most dishonorable mention of all: the Whopper of the Year award.   

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Lead

A story about thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses cleaning Mission Valley’s football stadium was our most popular of the year. You can find links to the rest of our 10 most popular stories here.

On the opinion front, our top 10 most-commented stories reveal that our readers were most talkative about expensive affordable housing, teacher pay, Balboa Park, books and bicyclists, among other things.  

And for fun, check out our Quotes of the Year. They include references to “‘the snoozing, blue-haired, pledge-making La Jolla dragon, “some guy from Arizona” and “no other Gumby thefts.”

Preparing for Moses, Abraham & Co.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses graced our pages more than once this year. In my guise as History Man, I chronicled how a house in Kensington because the home of an early (and nationally influential) Jehovah’s Witness leader who readied it for the return of Old Testament patriarchs. Maybe they got stuck in traffic. 

In other history flashbacks, I explored Ocean Beach’s deadliest day, a century-old free speech faceoff, a garbage scandal that helped make our trash collection fee-free, and our role in a grand doomsday prophecy.

Plus: a six-decade fight over fluoride, a utopian commune where you wouldn’t expect one, and a booze scandal for the ages. I also interviewed local experts about medieval witchcraft and about two local centuries-old paintings, one of which shows that brag-worthy bling is hardly a modern invention.

As the U-T Turns

• The U-T’s new new ownership (as compared to the old new ownership and the old old ownership) informs the newspaper’s workers that their 37.5-hour workweeks, a remnant of the days when they had a major employee union, are history, CityBeat reports. They’ll now work 40 hours. But, as a memo puts it in tortured verbiage, “no changes to weekly pay will accompany this adjustment of hours.”

A new dress code is in place too, plus a “U-T Bistro.” In other U-T news, the paper’s brass is getting rid of company cars, apparently moving toward a new name for its website and asking journalists to explain what they do.

• Sunday’s paper brought tidings on the U-T’s political leanings under new ownership. For one, the paper cheerily profiled GOP presidential candidate and part-time La Jollan Mitt Romney, who has received recent contributions from Manchester.

Romney, it seems, is both friendly and thrifty. Worth an estimated $190 million — his home on Dunemere Drive reportedly went for $12 million — he’s been seen getting a cheap haircut (who knew that was allowed in La Jolla?) and shopping at Vons (ditto).

Over in the opinion pages, an editorial supports a build-buildBUILD future for San Diego — no surprise, considering that its owner is a developer — and promises “a plan we think offers the most long-term promise not just for the stadium and convention center but for the entire downtown waterfront, as well as for taxpayers and the regional community.” The editorial is hardly an oasis of holiday optimism, however, since it takes time to bash unions, “legalistic obstructionism” and critics of the Balboa Park makeover.

The editorial ends with this: “Dream big. Demand strong leadership and accountability. Expect greatness, and accept no less.”

Here’s a better plan: Dream smart. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. And give me some better mottoes that I can use in this space a year from now.

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

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