The name of one of mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher’s former employers is conspicuously missing from his biography, and no wonder: the old boss is Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the imprisoned former politician who’s been labeled the most corrupt congressman in the nation’s history.

“The guy’s a felon,” Fletcher told us. “I’m not going to do a big banner on it.”

Fletcher’s opponents might do just that.

But, as our Liam Dillon reports, the Fletcher-Cunningham connection isn’t necessarily the stuff that successful hit pieces are made of. 

“Fletcher’s opponents likely won’t find much to link the two,” Dillon says. “Fletcher spent just more than two years on Cunningham’s payroll, heading up the former northern San Diego representative’s Escondido office. But for most of that time, Fletcher didn’t work there. Fletcher was on active duty in the Marines, a service that included seven months in the Iraq war.”

As for the congressman’s misdeeds, “Nathan knew nothing,” said Cunningham’s former chief of staff.

Marcus Stern, the reporter who broke the Cunningham corruption story, said it’s not clear who knew what and when in Cunningham’s offices. “We are likely to never know which staffers were involved or knowledgeable and which weren’t. It’s a troubling ambiguity for both the public and the staffers.” 

As for Cunningham, he’s behind bars but not behind on his letter-writing. He tells us: “I will tell you that neither Nathan or any of my former staff should suffer for my own sins.”

A New Pension Plan Arises

Councilman David Alvarez is proposing a pension reform plan to fight back against the 401(k) measure pushed by GOP leaders.

It’s very similar to the initiative coming up on the June ballot except it doesn’t give new employees 401(k) plans. Instead, he’d cap pensions at $99,999 for new employees.

“The switch allows Alvarez to make a significant claim about his measure’s benefits: It will save more money,” Dillon writes.

The switch a 401(k) is expected to actually cost money in the short-term. Its supporters say it’s necessary to avoid a repeat of the sins of the past.

Fact-Checking Fletcher’s Parking Claim

“Building a facility in Rancho Bernardo and downtown requires the same parking,” Fletcher said at a mayoral candidate forum about land use issues last month.

Is he right? Does a facility in a place like downtown, with plenty of public transit options from the trolley to the bus and more, need to provide as much parking as up in Rancho Bernardo, where just about everyone gets around by car? San Diego Fact Check finds the answer is no: the claim is false. 

Our Ex-Education Scribe Speaks on Schools & More chats with our former education reporter Emily Alpert, who is now working for the L.A. Times.

Among other things, she offers insight into the dysfunction within the San Diego school system: “I was always stunned by the amount of confusion within schools about what the school district was doing. Often teachers and principals would tell me they turned to me to find out what was happening. That was a nice thing to hear, but really, they shouldn’t have to do that.”

Top Givers, a Beady VW, and that Severed Head (Again)

The Arts Report is the Morning Report’s younger sister, the one who has cute freckles and gets all the attention from Mom and Dad. Let’s put it this way: The Arts Report has a college fund; the Morning Report has a bail fund. (Unfair! Mommm!)

Anyway, this week’s Arts Report recaps last week’s Meeting of the Minds event and includes links to stories about the county’s top philanthropists, a milestone for San Diego State’s art and dance program, a VW encrusted by 2 million beads, and the return of a San Diego Opera performance’s severed head.

Also in arts, we’ve posted two more videos from Meeting of the Minds. Mario Chacon, an artist and muralist who’s helping revitalize the murals at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, talked about the project and showed before-and-after photos.

And K. Lorraine Graham talked about where poets and writers fit in San Diego’s arts world.

Food Stamp Applicants Get the Hang-Up from County

Five out of every six calls to a hotline designed to improve San Diego’s troubled food-stamp system don’t connect. And those that do get through have to wait a half an hour once they do, according to a county report. (U-T San Diego)

The numbers confirm what we found last fall in a follow-up to our special report on the county’s historical resistance to providing social services.

In North County, Residents Fight Monastery

You might think a Buddhist monastery would be just about the best neighbor ever. No loud parties, no screeching tires in the driveway and (presumably) no doggie byproducts on your front lawn. Even if there were, the monks could teach you how to feel zen about everything.

Well, think again: a battle has erupted over a monastery’s plans to expand its property in the North County community of Bonsall.

About 400 people have signed petitions opposing the expansion, which county staff is recommending that officials approve, the NC Times reports. The opponents say hundreds of people will come for events, but there will be restrictions.

SD Company Tackles Unlocked Wi-Fi

If you’re on the road with your laptop, an unlocked wi-fi system can be nirvana. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask the nearest 13 year old.) But a San Diego company that produces pornography doesn’t like idea of people letting other folks access their wi-fi for free, and it’s suing several Massachusetts residents in federal court over the downloading of a porn movie.

The case “could test the question of whether individuals who leave their wireless networks unsecured can be held liable if someone uses the network to illegally download copyrighted content, reports.

County Goes on ‘Nuisance’ Patrol

The county has declared certain synthetic drugs — including so-called “bathsalts” and “spice” — to be “public nuisances,” NBC 7 San Diego reports, meaning that prosecutors will get a new legal tool when they go after people who sell them.

Who knew the county had the power to declare things to be a pain in the neck? Sounds like a handy power to have. May I suggest that they take a look at those hulking trucks that are always trying to squeeze into too-small parking spaces? Now there’s a public nuisance for you.

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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