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We’re only a few days from declaring the winner of the Whopper of the Year award, and we need your help in determining who dared to sling the most fertilizer at the public.

Check our finalists here, and watch two of our journalists make cases for their favorite falsehoods on Fact Check TV. Our editor’s going for Bill Horn’s bogus civil rights story, while the CEO argues Jerry Sanders leads the pack. Is either of them right?

As of yesterday evening, local convention center booster Steve Cushman was in the lead by far, at least judging by reader opinions on our site: All five comments declared him to be the most deserving. But it’s not too late to get your vote in. Heck, it may be the only one you cast this year that makes a difference!

Introducing … the Paper Formerly Known as the U-T

Think of those all-American traditions of which we’re so fond: Baseball. Apple pie. And ragging on the local newspaper.

Well, batter up, Union-Tribune bashers! Have we got a treat for you.

The newspaper has changed its name. Gone is The San Diego Union-Tribune. In its place: U-T San Diego. “But…but…WHY?” asked a mayoral spokeswoman via Twitter. Excellent question, and we’ll let the U-T SD answer it via a memo: “It will help us unify our print and digital products under a singular brand identity with a clear and consistent expectation of quality.”

Can someone translate that, please?

As of today, the U-T SD staff is directed to answer the phone with name and, no, not serial number but “U-T San Diego.”

Two thoughts: It’s good that “SignOnSanDiego.com,” with its air of it’s-still-1998, will go away. And it’ll be amusing to see how many of the U-T SD’s journalists, members of an occupation not known for following directions, actually use the required phone greeting. After all, some have already refused to call their new publisher by his nickname, “Papa Doug,” unless he happens to somehow turn out to be their father.

Redevelopment’s Still Got a Pulse

Maybe they need a silver bullet, a wooden stake and an armored tank. Those who want to kill the state’s widely criticized (and widely used) redevelopment program might not get what they want. It sounds like a Frankenstein-like creation made out of various parts may soon appear and replace redevelopment.

The California Planning & Development Report, a newsletter, offers this perspective: “It’s not about redevelopment. It’s about money. And if all sides in Sacramento can resolve the money issue, the legal status of redevelopment will be practically irrelevant. There is every reason to believe a deal will be struck. It’s just not the deal that the California Redevelopment Association and League of Cities were hoping for when they filed suit four months ago.”

It adds: “Both sides will likely be back in the Legislature within a matter of days to try to work out a deal that keeps redevelopment in some form, but transfers a couple of billion dollars of property tax revenue to the state.”

Our commenters have plenty of thoughts about redevelopment — check out our roundup here — and they don’t agree on its value. 

How’s Business in SD? Pretty Small, It Turns Out

San Diego has about 97,000 businesses, ranging from giant companies to one-person independent contractors (and not necessarily the kind that remodels your kitchen). Are 95 percent of them small businesses, as Councilwoman Sherri Lightner recently declared?

Her claim matters because she wants a council committee to focus on small businesses. If there aren’t as many as she says, maybe they don’t deserve the spotlight.

San Diego Fact Check finds she’s basically right and gives her a “mostly true” verdict. The exact number never quite reached 95 percent in recent years, but it’s close enough for government work, as my old high school chemistry teacher used to say. (He also used to say “A for the day, C for the week, D for the year” and “Interesting, provocative and well-seasoned,” but I digress).

News at the Speed of Brief

• Rep. Bob Filner is stepping down from Congress to run for mayor, and now veteran’s groups are worried about who will be their advocate in Congress, Roll Call reports. The paper, by the way, refers to his “legendary quick temper and fierce combativeness,” which have made him fans among vets but may be crucial factors in determining whether prominent local Dems give him any more than lukewarm support.

• Could the giant Convention Center expansion be a big boondoggle? I know, I know. You’re boggled by the very thought, aren’t you? But a Wall Street Journal columnist says there’s a lot of irrational exuberance going around when it comes to convention center expansions.

“For two decades, America’s convention center business has been declining, resulting in a nationwide surplus of empty meeting facilities, struggling convention halls and vacant hotel rooms,” Steven Malanga writes. “How have governments responded to this glut? By building more convention centers, of course, financed by debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers.”

Say it ain’t so! But don’t fancy new buildings show that major cities are serious about, um, being major cities or whatever? Naw, he writes. “This new metric — a city’s amorphous brand value — is little more than a convenient way to ignore the failure of publicly sponsored facilities to live up to exaggerated projections But as far as city officials are concerned, that failure is nothing that hundreds of millions more in taxpayer dollars can’t fix.”

Gumption’s Not Enough and the U-T Is Too Much

In opinion from our Fix San Diego section:

• “San Diego now has a single metropolitan newspaper that is owned by two men with an agenda — so bold, so clear, so narrow, that they conflate their own views with what is irrefutably right, and see promulgation of them as a legitimate purpose of their very own newspaper,” writes Al Rodbell, describing the U-T.

•  Stephanie Stevens says the homeless need more than gumption: “anyone who says they did ‘it’ on their own, by their own volition and boot straps entirely, are entirely mistaken. Everyone who’s anyone has had some help.”

• Edward Kane notes the Wall Street Journal commentary and questions the value of expanding the Convention Center.

• The Building Trades Family Housing Corporation’s Murtaza Baxamusa tracks where the poor live in San Diego.

• Tate Hurvitz and Dena Plemmons continue our Henrietta Lacks Project series with a look at science literacy.

Back to Those Whoppers

It’s come to my attention that there’s no trophy or prize for the winner of the Whopper of the Year award. Harrumph, phooey and fiddlesticks! This cannot stand.

I propose that the person declared the biggest fertilizer-provider get a gift certificate to Burger King. That way, the Whopper in Chief can get a Whopper with Cheese, hold the truth.

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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