No one in local San Diego politics inspires as much emotion as Carl DeMaio.

A whirling dervish of accusations and press conferences, the councilman enthralls many conservatives while driving liberals into what I’ve called DeMaio Derangement Syndrome.

So who is this guy? He’s young, gay and from a background that’s “filled with intrigue,” as our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon puts it in a new Reader’s Guide designed to give you a simple primer to what we know about the candidate after a year-long mayoral campaign.

DeMaio’s one of the few city leaders who have bothered to brainstorm solutions to San Diego’s problems, and he promises to make his fixes a priority over things like education and social issues.

“His confrontational style, propensity to overreach and an unwillingness to admit when he’s wrong has made it difficult to understand how he’d work with the City Council and various interest groups to implement the massive changes he wants,” Dillon writes.

He’s leading the polls for the primary, but the big question is whether he can patch together a coalition big enough to squash his  opponent in the run-off. Can a man leading the new San Diego GOP woo enough Democratic and independent voters to win in November?

We’ll be putting out a guide to the mayoral candidates each day this week. 

As Kids Rehearse, a Veteran Provides Perspective

We’re embedded with the San Diego Children’s Choir production of “Noye’s Fludde,” a 250-singer adaptation of the biblical story about you-know-who. Ian Campbell, general director of the San Diego Opera, offers insight into what to look for as the kids engage in final rehearsals.

He tells us kids can become too focus on the basics like where they’re going to stand that they don’t throw themselves into character. “In the final rehearsals I’d be focused on making sure they ‘inhabited’ the role rather than just performed it, and were the character at all times,” Campell told us.

Check out Kelly Bennett’s introduction to this project here and watch this week for more as the youth group tries to stage an opera of biblical proportions.

Shadow of Doubt Lingers over Exonerated Brother

San Diego County has had plenty of epic legal sagas over last few decades: Betty Broderick, Dale Akiki, Sagon Penn, David Westerfield. But none may be as convoluted and destructive as the one that still continues, 14 years later, over the “utterly botched” investigation of a young girl’s murder in Escondido.

Those two words come from U-T columnist Logan Jenkins, describing how the cops initially accused the teenage brother of victim Stephanie Crowe and two of his young friends.

A judge has just made an unusual ruling exonerating the brother of the victim and a drifter was ultimately convicted. But that drifter’s defense in a retrial could revive the original allegations against the three.

Jenkins says the “abject failure” of police and prosecutors will likely doom the trio to continue living their lives in the shadow of doubt.    

Elsewhere in his column, Jenkins recalls the tell-it-like-it-is approach of North County education advocate Linda Rhoades, who served on the Vista school board when it became snarled in a nasty 1990s cultural war. I paid tribute to Rhoades, who died earlier this month, in this space last week.

“Linda couldn’t dissemble if her life depended on it,” a former Vista schools chief tells Jenkins. As a person who’s dissembled once or twice or a thousand times, I think that’s pretty impressive.

Quick News Hits

• Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in town yesterday to honor the military with Senator John McCain and throw some zingers at the guy in the White House. (U-T)

 • Ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the most disgraced congressman in history, continues his remorse-free pity party from federal prison in Tucson. Previously, he expressed his desire to run for Congress again (oh goodie) and endorsed Newt Gingrich for president (ditto). Now, he’s written a judge to ask to be able to carry a gun when he gets out, the U-T reports.

Cunningham says he plans to live in rural Arkansas upon his release in December and would really like to go hunting. “I flew aircraft that could disintegrate your building with a half second burst and now can’t carry a 22 cal,” he complains.

The hunting part doesn’t seem too likely, since felons aren’t allowed to own guns. “It appears you are stuck,” the judge told Cunningham.

• Sunday was the 150th anniversary of San Diego’s biggest recorded earthquake, a shaker of about 6.0 magnitude that appears to have been centered near what is now Coronado. It cracked the tower of the Point Loma lighthouse, damaged buildings and generally freaked people out. “For 10 days, I slept in the corral; others imitated me in town,” one resident wrote.

The quake didn’t kill anybody. In fact, while plenty of noticeable quakes have hit San Diego over the years, the total recorded death toll appears to be one, as I reported in a 2010 look at our brushes with the Richter scale. The sole fatality came in 1986 when a quake off Oceanside killed a downtown San Diego hoarder, aged 87, who was buried under thousands of books.     

How Bad Are They?

Inspired by the U-T’s brilliant use of the word “desultory,” I asked Morning Report readers last week to think of an even better adjective to describe the dreadful Padres season.

Here are a few suggestions: “Unavailing.” “Feckless.” “Absent.”

But the niftiest word of all comes to us courtesy of Tom Colthurst. It’s “insegrevious.” That sounds about right, doesn’t it? What an insegrevious season!

Turns out that the word, apparently invented in the 1960s, means whatever you want it to mean.

I can’t wait until it runs for office.

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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