The presumed frontrunner in this year’s mayoral race, Councilman Carl DeMaio, should expect attacks from his rivals. And, in the space of 12 hours, he got two very pointed and public ones.

Liam Dillon has the play by play. How is DeMaio dealing with the barbs? He’s dodging them.

“I’m not going to respond to an ad hominem remark,” the mayoral candidate said at a debate on Monday. He also, as the U-T put it, “sidestepped” a question. Then, at a forum yesterday morning, he responded to a hostile question with a dodge and a denial, one that he didn’t have the facts to back up.

Utilities Watchdog to Dissolve

The Utility Consumers Action Network, or UCAN, announced this on its website yesterday:

“UCAN has initiated a Superior Court-supervised voluntary dissolution designed to allow the organization to continue to continue its core mission of ratepayer advocacy while addressing some persistent legal challenges.”

It is not your typical press release. Just, wow.

War Veterans Dig Deep to Help Performers

“You come back with the shame and the guilt thing. I served my country honorably and I did some fantastic things. I’m sure I saved lives. But those aren’t the things you remember. The things you remember are the atrocities. The ugly stuff. The things that haunt you.”

Those are the words of Ernie D’Leon, a Vietnam vet who’s helping a local theater put on its production of a play based on a fictional war very similar to the one that D’Leon fought.

We’ve been following the production of the play as vets try to teach the actors and producers how to make it come out right. Watch D’Leon and others explain in some new videos we’ve posted.

• Kelly Bennett posted this week’s Arts Report. It’s loaded with all a maven needs to know.

PB Alcohol Permits Not Denied Often

An advocate for Pacific Beach denizens complained on television that the state agency that oversees alcohol sales just can’t say no. It, he says, only rejected seven of 9,444 new alcohol permits last year.

Is that true? Mostly, reports San Diego Fact Check. Why mostly? The numbers are a year off and there’s a nuance to consider before you start wondering why the agency exists if it’s going to be that non-picky.

Just How Bad Was 2011 in Housing?

There’s fresh news about the sorry state of the local housing market (at least if you’re a seller and not a buyer): San Diego home prices, as measured by the most reliable price index, declined in December again.

It was a modest loss for the year, our real estate guru Rich Toscano reports in a post that includes this classic Toscano-ism: “this may seem obvious to many of you, but …”

Lot’s of folks have this news today, but nobody’s got Toscano’s classic graphs.

Voice Mail Still Dead for Cox Customers

Just when you thought answering machines were about as fossil-tastic as fax machines, here’s food for thought: customers who get phone service through Cox Communications, the cable company, have suffered through more than a week without working voice mail service, the U-T reports.

There’s no word of when the voice mail will be fixed, no word on what went wrong and no word on whether voice mails are lost forever.

Food Trucks to Get Letter Grades

Thanks to the county board of supervisors, you’ll soon be able to easily tell if that food truck down the street has passed a county health inspection. The board yesterday approved requiring letter grades to be posted by the food trucks just as restaurants do, the U-T reports.

For background on the food truck business, check our interview with a local food slinger from 2010.

Quick News Hits

• Three San Diego firefighters were jailed Sunday on suspicion of robbery and other charges after a fight with two bicyclists in Normal Heights,” the U-T reports.

The firefighters posted bail and were released. All are scheduled to continue working this week.

• The ongoing case of a whistleblower complaint against the county pension system “raises questions about the amount of control a pension fund relinquishes when it outsources all or some of its investment staff functions,” Pensions & Investments reports.

The San Diego County Civil Service Commission is expected to decide soon whether the former investment officer behind the complaint will get his job back at the $8.1 billion pension fund.  As the U-T explained last year, the ex-employee says he was fired for pointing out that the fund was too risky; the pension system denies that.  

• There’s more good press for Tijuana: the city “appears to have shaken off narco-related mayhem, allowing an explosion of new music halls, art galleries and world-class restaurants…,” reports the McClatchy news service. “But behind the relative peace is a nagging question: Why did it occur? Residents admit that they don’t know.”

A San Diego State professor who serves as director of an institute south of the border tells the Toronto Star that there’s still reason to worry: “We have a much lower level of violence now but we still have three groups operating here in Tijuana. We’re still sitting on top of a volcano that could explode at any time.”

How Fast Was I Going, Officer? 58 mph?!

More speeders were ticketed in the section of Interstate 5 between Harbor Drive and La Costa Avenue in North County than any other highway in the county last year, 10News reports.

The other speeding-ticket hotspots are on I-805, I-5 and I-15, all in San Diego or South Bay.

“What we’re going to look for is the fastest person out there,” a CHP spokeswoman told the station. “So if you’re the fastest person, it doesn’t matter if you’re going three miles or four miles [over the limit], that’s the person that’s going to get pulled over.”

Hey CHP, want a handy way to find these folks who drive three or four miles over the limit? Just look for my car. For some reason, these idio… I mean, these slowpokes are always right in front of me.

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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