Scott Lewis says if money, gaffes and momentum didn’t affect political  contests so much, what would matter was how the candidates framed issues.

He’s posted a look at how the candidates for mayor will frame the issues facing voters.

What does he mean by “frame?”

If you’re a salesman and you get people to argue about what color refrigerator to buy, you win because they’ve decided to buy the refrigerator. 

For instance, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will tell voters they should care about experience above many other things. If they buy into that, she’ll have a leg up.

What will the others try to frame and what stands in their way? Check out his analysis.

It is part of a series of 12 stories you should pay attention to in 2012 (we’re hoping he gets to all of them by the time the New Year rolls around). Here was No. 12: the Chargers; No. 11: the Convention Center; No. 10: The city of San Diego’s financial problems; No. 9: the San Diego Police Department; No. 8: affordable housing; and No. 7: the future of Balboa Park.

Teachers Union Backtracks on Layoff Deadline

The San Diego teachers union has gone into backtrack mode and says it will now “not oppose” state legislation to postpone the deadline that tells school districts when they must warn teachers about possible layoffs, CityBeat reports.

“We have backed off,” the union president told the newspaper, “and we have said that we will not oppose that legislation.”

The union had earlier said it would only support the legislation if the district didn’t announce layoffs by March 15, the current deadline. “That put the district in a tough spot because if it made such a promise and then the legislation failed, it would not be legally allowed to lay off teacher for the upcoming school year,” CityBeat says.

To understand what’s going on, check our coverage of the union’s head-scratching earlier position, the response, and video explainers about how layoffs work at the district and turmoil in the teachers union.  

County Wants a Piece of Bullet Train Pie

As we told you earlier this month, a battle is brewing over a proposed bullet train that would someday whisk passengers from San Diego to San Francisco in a matter of hours. Critics from both the right and left have called it a boondoggle, but it has support from the offices of the governor and president.

Now, the San Diego Association of Governments in the county says it wants a piece of the pie, the NC Times reports.

“If high-speed rail happens, super-duper. If it doesn’t happen, (we would get) money now that can help with other projects,” a Santee councilman said.

U-T Outsources Online Comment Patrol

The U-T has hired a company to monitor the online comments left by its readers, CityBeat reports. “You can’t control social media,” says the website of the firm, ICUC Moderation Services.

As the Nieman Journalism Lab website put it last year in a story about the outsourcing of comment monitoring, “the sacrifice in going outside is giving up the hands-on approach to building online community — but some news orgs probably don’t want to put their hands into something they consider a cesspool.”

The president of the company told the website that newspapers shouldn’t be freaked out by criticism of themselves. “We’re never going back to a web that is static, as in ‘here is a story no one can comment on,’” he said.

Last Christmas, the U-T drew national attention when its editor got appalled by online attacks and closed off comments on the post of a Christmas message from its new publisher.

“Not every utterance needs a response on every occasion,” editor Jeff Light wrote at the time.

• Speaking of newspapers and controversial owners, Reuters media critic Jack Shafer looks at the brouhaha in Philadelphia over the possible sale of the papers there and notes that a partisan owner doesn’t automatically mean journalism will be bad.

But Shafer isn’t hopeful about one aspect of the newspaper world. “The golden era in which every city could support a general interest daily newspaper that could both make lots of money and produce lots of quality journalism is passing.”

Quick News Hits

• Last week, we linked to a story that ran in the U-T and KPBS from Investigative Newsource questioning why the city’s water rates have been rising while the utilities department is sitting on a giant pile of unspent money. The coverage was “very misleading,” the city says in a letter it sent to the City Council.

• The reporters have posted a followup about the costs to residents and businesses from water main breaks. A three-month examination revealed “some streets, mostly in older neighborhoods, have suffered more than half a dozen water main breaks in the past eight years.”

• The New  York Times’ famed war correspondent C.J. Chivers is chronicling life aboard the USS Stennis as it takes a “Tiger Cruise” from Hawaii to San Diego. It’s a trip families can take with sailors as they end a long deployment.

• The U-T takes a spin through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the major mayoral candidates and finds Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and Councilman Carl DeMaio are the busiest in that world, while District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (“her posts are cheery, businesslike and determined to reveal almost nothing about the candidate herself”) and Rep. Bob Filner aren’t as engaged.

The U-T notes that Filner’s Twitter feed has a strange habit of failing to finish thoughts. One tweet says: “You are the reason Bob is running for Mayor! He wants to make sure it isn’t the downtown lobbyists calling the …”

DeMaio does it too.

Makes you think their campaigns have no idea what the heck they’re …

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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