So much for the city attorney’s legal reasoning about keeping important numbers secret.

The city has refused to let us know how many ballots each hotel owner has as they decide whether visitors will pay higher per-night taxes to expand the Convention Center.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith claimed that offering details of the vote would reveal proprietary information about how much revenue each hotel brings in. And that is bad.

But yesterday we discovered that another agency, the port, thinks that very same type of information is public. Using it, we were able to estimate that one company, Host Hotels & Resorts, controls about 21 percent of the votes based on its three waterfront hotels alone.

So why does this matter? “We’re in this fight because we want to know how much power Host has to determine if the tax increase happens,” our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon reports. “In normal elections, the number of votes someone has isn’t difficult to figure out. But this election isn’t normal.”  

Who Will Rep the New Council District (And What’s It Like)?

The city has a new City Council district, the ninth. Most of its residents are Latinos (that was the point) but the district’s first councilmember may not be a Latino.

Our editor Andrew Donohue, the first of our journalists to take week-long looks at several City Council districts, explains this quirk and offers a variety of details about this area of our city and the candidates who hope to represent it.

Look for more coverage this week.

Fletcher vs. DeMaio on Dissolving City

Those of you who have read our Scott Lewis know he’s, for a while, been harping on a phenomenon called the “dissolving city.” Here’s his simplest explanation of it from a year ago. As the city struggles under massive liabilities, it is asking nonprofits and other local groups to fill in bigger gaps.

Now, a recent mayoral forum on nonprofit issues has caused Lewis to wonder who will be the best mayor of dissolving city.

Lewis tracks the distinct approaches to the problem by Councilman Carl DeMaio and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. One seems to have clearer ideas but the other might be more effective at getting them implemented.

The Next Mayor on Education

The former NPR journalist and current Fox News analyst Juan Williams flew into town just to moderate a debate between the candidates for mayor on education issues.

Put on by U-T San Diego and the University of San Diego’s Center for Education Policy and Law, the discussion took some head-scratching turns.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, for instance, went big on promises:

“As mayor I will fix the city’s schools and I will fix it within my first term,” she said. Dumanis has a bold plan for local schools.

• Numerous recipients of the “teacher of the year” award in San Diego schools have gotten pink slips warning that they may lose their jobs. Several of them have sent us photos of themselves with their layoff notices, and we’ve added new ones here.

• Speaking of San Diego schools, the Morning Report linked to a U-T story earlier this week about a poll of city voters about the quality of education in the school district.

I described the poll as saying that “most San Diego voters polled don’t think San Diego public schools are doing a good job.” That’s based on the fact that 58 percent of those surveyed gave San Diego public schools a grade of C, D or F.

The story also says that 64 percent of those polled agreed that schools “were struggling but providing a quality education.”

Teacher Dennis Schamp, a frequent commenter on our site (and featured in our story about pink slips), thinks I neglected the bright side: “We can’t have it both ways — the poll says that a majority of people in SD feel their children are getting a quality education.”

Stadium Deadline Goes Slip-Sliding Away

How many months does it take a consulting firm to come up with a financing plan? No, this isn’t one of those screw-in-a-light-bulb riddles. But it is a question with a moving target.

Last October, the mayor’s office said its advisers would be ready with a plan to build a new football stadium by March. Now it’s April, and NBC 7 San Diego reports the deadline has been relocated to September.

“That timetable leaves Mayor Jerry Sanders little more than two months to win City Council approval, not to mention the team’s endorsement, before he leaves office because of term limits in early December,” the U-T adds.

As we reported in February, this whole process has been a bit peculiar from the beginning. That’s because the consulting firm, actually an investment banking company, began work without a contract.

Dance Dance (Contest) Revolution & More in Arts

The Arts Report, our weekly look at all things cultural (except yogurt), reminds readers to check our latest Arts Embedded series.

We tracked several young choreographers as they worked through anxiety, asthma and other obstacles as they prepared for a local contest. If you’d just like to review the highlights of our coverage, we’ve posted a guide to what we learned and links to the various stories.

The Arts Report also has details on lots of other arts and culture happenings from an unusual home for rappers, a Phish musician’s bid for fame at the La Jolla Playhouse, a hotel art gallery in downtown.

We also share an item about a sculptor named Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir whose work is on display in La Jolla. The first person who correctly guesses this person’s nationality in an email to me — without peeking at the Arts Report — will get a shout-out in the Morning Report later this week. (Bonus points if you can figure out my heritage from my last name without researching it).

‘Duke’ Is Being Released, but Not That One

Duke is free once again. No, not the man described as the most corrupt congressman in history. Randy “Duke” Cunningham remains behind bars, dreaming of running for Congress (seriously), rehabbing his reputation and polling fellow prisoners about their favorite candidate. It’s Newt Gingrich, in case you’re scoring at home).

This Duke is a young bobcat who was found near death in the backcountry but was nursed back to health at a Ramona wildlife center, the NC Times reports. He was released back into the wild on Monday, equipped with a radio collar so he can be tracked.

“It’s breeding season,” says the center director, who has the rather awesome name of Ali Crumpacker. It’s time for him to find a girlfriend (and) settle down.”

Hmm. Maybe that radio collar will help biologists locate the bobcat equivalent of the Gaslamp Quarter.

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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