The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.

Ray Ellis, who wants to evict Sherri Lightner from the City Council, follows the GOP line on some issues. He wants to reform retirement benefits for city employees and he likes the idea of putting city services up to bid.

These would seem like easy ways to keep labor union types from supporting him. Yet he’s reaching out to them, and he likes not one but two candidates for mayor, including the man who just kicked the GOP to the curb and became an independent.   

We take a look at Ellis, who’s running in District 1, and his priorities. Our story also examines what he’s taken heat for (a muddy position on the Regents Road Bridge) and notes a moment when he seemed unhappy when his campaign manager let a fact about him slip.

Reporter Keegan Kyle spend last week embedded in District 1 getting to know its people and problems. He’ll be profiling all four candidates in the District 1 race, which is shaping up to be a good one, this week. Our Scott Lewis last week called it “the most interesting” council race out there.

Kelly Bennett’s taking on the uptown and downtown neighborhoods in District 3 this week. Give her a hand.

A Deeper Look (Finally!) into Filner’s Pension Plan

Our Liam Dillon takes a closer look at Rep. Bob Filner’s long-promised pension reform plan, which the mayoral candidate finally released just a few weeks before the election.

“Filner wants to end six-figure pensions for new hires, negotiate a five-year labor contract, eliminate a city subsidy for employee pensions, put half of any budget surpluses into the pension fund and keep guaranteed pensions for new workers,” Dillon reports.

There are plenty of possible hitches, especially when it comes to borrowing money: it “won’t erase the city’s pension debt it just will shift it from one side of the books to the other. If the city doesn’t make more from its investments than it pays in interest, taxpayers lose.”

Explaining the Mayoral Rivals

We’ve all got things we’d rather not talk about.

Most of us can have at least some success in keeping certain things hidden. But politicians aren’t always so fortunate. Witness the four major mayoral candidates: We’ve managed to identify things that they’d prefer to not discuss. 

We just completed a series of San Diego Explained video profiles on the candidates to point out what they don’t want to talk about, what they do want to talk about and their resume.

Got a hankering for more details about the mayor’s race? If so, maybe you’re a mayoral candidate yourself. (In which case: Can you promise to name a street after me? Just one would do it.) Whatever the case, check our dozens of stories here.

Stanford Fellowship Grabs our Editor

Andrew Donohue, the editor of Voice of San Diego, will depart on Sept. 1 to become a fellow with the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University.

It’s a prestigious fellowship in the journalism world that promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Stanford University yesterday announced the names of the 20 fellows for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Donohue’s project up in Palo Alto will be to create investigative news projects that will take advantage of narrative story telling and allow the use of “crowd-sourcing” — using internet users at large to help out. Another goal is to create ways to fund these projects so they don’t disappear.

Our CEO, Scott Lewis, has more details about what comes next for VOSD, along with an appreciation for a journalist who’s the newsroom’s top boss.

Donohue is known as Andy around here, and we have a lot of a few other names for him too. No need to go into them in print (this is a family news organization) except for the most important one: “friend.”

He will continue to work with us as a contributing editor and hopes to return to San Diego when the fellowship ends.

• You can catch Donohue and Lewis making predictions about the election on the latest edition of VOSD Radio.

DeMaio’s Big and Questionable Claim

Councilman Carl DeMaio is running for mayor as an advocate for the taxpayer. But what about the plan to build the $520 million Convention Center expansion without a vote of the public?

Not to worry, DeMaio says: That’s a “private investment.” We examined this claim last week, and now Fact Check TV takes a crack at it.

Henrietta Lacks Series Reaches the End

The end is near for Exploring Ethics Forum: The Henrietta Lacks Series, a nine-month-long series run by the San Diego’s Center for Ethics in Science and Technology. It’s part of a citywide event that examines the ethical quandaries posted by the story of a woman whose cells were removed from her body in the 1950s. The cells became a crucial component of medical advances, all without her permission.

Margaret Ng Thow Hing, an intellectual property attorney, examines the question of whether we own our bodies in an essay. We’ve also posted a poll to give you a voice.

Poe Celebration Reaches Nevermore Stage

The Big Read: Shades of Poe, the citywide celebration of Edgar Allan Poe, is ending today with events in East County. Veronica Murphy and Walter Ritter, co-founders of Write Out Loud, recap what happened in a new post.

Quick News Hits

Three yacht racers are dead and one is presumed deceased after their sailboat came apart in the waters off San Diego, the AP reports. It’s not clear what happened; theories suggest that their boat collided with another vessel or hit rocks near Mexico’s Coronado Islands.

• Today, the results of a federal investigation will finally shed light (sorry) on last September’s epic blackout, the NC Times reports. It’s been seven months since the power grid failed, revealing how many things we rely on  — hospitals, cell phones, gas stations, sewage systems — aren’t prepared for a simple power outage.    

• Our Best of the Week feature is back with a look at the most popular stories on our site. Walmart, Rancho Bernardo, University City and Councilman DeMaio all get some love.

• The Atlantic says San Diego may be the national leader in replacing streetlights with new models that save energy. The city plans to replace 90 percent of its 35,000 streetlights that use 40 percent less energy.

The goal is to save a couple of million dollars a year on power bills. The lights also last a lot longer.

My street has both kinds of lights. The old ones have a yellowish cast, and the new ones are more white-ish. I’ve tested them by walking under them at night, and they all make me look pallid.

Now if only sunlight didn’t have the same effect.  

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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