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Back in 2000, Carl DeMaio was an earnest-looking wonk in his 20s. He wasn’t known in San Diego yet, but he’d become financially successful in Washington, D.C. using the same playbook he was about to employ here.

“In both San Diego and Washington,” Liam Dillon reports, “DeMaio appeared out of nowhere, seized an issue headed for prominence, worked relentlessly, took credit even when it wasn’t quite due and eventually found real success.”

In D.C., DeMaio became an expert in a Clinton-era law that forced federal agencies to set benchmarks for themselves. He convinced powerful Republicans to use the regulations to force agencies to shape up.

Then, DeMaio realized he could make money on that knowledge. He made the leap from partisan operative to good-government advocate, starting a company that trained government types on how to abide by the law. 

Dillon takes a look at how DeMaio made his money, a treasury that has helped finance his campaigns for City Council and the Mayor’s Office.

Catch Up on the Curfew Controversy

It’s become routine: cops fan out in City Heights, southeastern San Diego and parts of downtown at night, looking for kids who are out past curfew. More than 2,500 children have been arrested in the past four years.

Cops say it’s a great program that helps reduce crime, but they haven’t proven that it works. Our recent analysis of the available data raises questions about the claims made to bolster the program’s success.

The story has played out over months, so we’ve put together a Reader’s Guide to take a big-picture look at curfew sweeps. We offer links to previous stories, videos, background about San Diego’s curfew law and the sweeps, and graphics.

That’s not all. We take a look at what’s coming next in this debate. And you can be part of the discussion: connect with us via email or comments.   

Fletcher Zooms, U-T San Diego Goes for DeMaio

• Nathan Fletcher has moved up to become a top contender in the mayor’s race, according to a new U-T San Diego poll. DeMaio is at 22 percent among those surveyed with Fletcher at 17 percent and Rep. Bob Filner, the only major Democrat in the race, at 18 percent.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is trailing at 8 percent.

Fletcher’s numbers jumped up 7 percentage points from the U-T’s mid-March poll, while Filner and DeMaio each dipped by 2 points. When matched up head-to-head, DeMaio would beat Filner while Fletcher would beat both.

• Meanwhile, the pension reform initiative is still coasting toward victory, with 52 percent support and just 29 percent opposing. Democrats and labor oppose the measure, which drastically changes retirement benefits for future city employees, but couldn’t come up with an alternative plan to put on the ballot.

• The newspaper also offered up its endorsement for mayor, exclaiming its selection of DeMaio in a special front-page, wrap-around insert.

DeMaio and the U-T publisher who insists on being called “Papa Doug” have a long history, as the Daily Transcript revealed. And the paper hasn’t been happy with Fletcher’s defection from the Republican Party.   

• The U-T also endorsed candidates for City Council and included a surprising tidbit from an editorial board interview with Councilwoman Sherri Lightner: it says she’s not sure if she’ll support allowing La Jolla to detach from the city of San Diego.

La Jollans have been clamoring for cityhood for at least 20 years, but it’s never been a real possibility because state law doesn’t make such a move easy. The detachment of La Jolla, after all, would be a big blow for San Diego’s city coffers and prestige.  

And who says the U-T’s editorials are always Republican? It endorsed a couple of Democratic incumbents — Council Members Marti Emerald and Todd Gloria. Why? Well, it helps that they don’t have any opposition from the right or, in Gloria’s case, any at all.

Officials Hope to Restart Nuke Plant Soon  

Those of us who can’t cope when the temperature rises above 70 degrees — I blame it on being, um, well-upholstered — are fearing a long, hot and rolling-blackout-prone summer.

That’s a very real prospect thanks to the continuing outage at the San Onofre nuclear plant, which has been shut down since problems appeared. If it doesn’t get up and running by the time it gets really hot, SDG&E will need to scramble to provide us with enough power.

Now, word comes that officials hope to bring the nuke plant back on line by June, KPBS reports. But it won’t be their choice to make, since federal regulators will have the final say.  

“Under the proposed plan, the units would run at 50 to 80 percent of capacity, or enough to power between 700,000 and 1.1 million typical houses,” the NC Times reports.

Who Says the Post Office Isn’t Busy?

Local mailboxes are starting to fill up with campaign fliers that support (and oppose) the mayoral candidates.

The ones that have shown up at my house are pretty sunny so far, with an exception or two.

But it’s early. I’m waiting to see fliers with those perennial unflattering photos of rivals who look like they just woke up from a hangover after being sick with the flu for a week while fighting off food poisoning.

Scary! If I ever become a politician, mark my words: I’m bringing along my own lighting wherever I go, and some Vaseline to throw on every lens in sight.

Correction: The original version of this story mixed up the polling numbers for Filner and Fletcher. We regret the error.

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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