If it’s true that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, then Rep. Bob Filner must have a lot of close friends.

Why? Filner can be difficult to work with both publicly and privately, and he goes out of his way to antagonize people. “It’s not his positions — even liberal detractors say they agree with him almost all the time,” writes our Liam Dillon in a profile of Filner’s personality. “It’s him.”

He brushes all this off as the side effects of having to be a bruising fighter to get things done. After all, he’s often been an underdog, going back to his days as a civil rights activist.

And Filner says you’ll see a different side of him when he’s elected mayor.

“I have a reputation, but I think people are going to find that the reality when I’m governing they’ll see a whole approach that will bring people together,” he said.

More Money for Legislative Aides

While the state continues to suffer from deep financial problems that threaten to cut weeks off the next school year, local legislators have been busy handing out raises to their staff members. They’ve boosted salaries by as much as 30 percent, the U-T reports.

“Lawmakers defended the pay hikes,” the U-T says, “saying they were small amounts paid to reward good work, savings have been made elsewhere and some of the bigger paychecks reflect increased hours or more responsibility.”

Overall, according to The Sacramento Bee, some 900 legislative workers have gotten raises this year.

Quick News Hits

• Old freeway, meet new freeway: State Route 905 has been relocated from traffic-clogged Otay Mesa Road to a new six-lane freeway that connects the 805 with the Otay Mesa border crossing. (KPBS)

• The solar industry is a big fan of Rep. Brian Bilbray, who was the only Republican on a House panel to vote “against efforts to dismantle the federal loan guarantee program for clean energy linked to the Solyndra debacle.” (U-T)

• Because of a quirk in the law, someone who hits and kills a person while driving drunk might face a more lenient sentence if they flee the scene and sober up so no one can prove they were intoxicated, the NC Times reports.   

• The Padres seem to be headed in a different direction: They’re signing their big-name players to extensions rather than flipping them for younger and cheaper players. (Yahoo!)

• The Chargers are “pretty unanimous” in their support of head coach Norv Turner. (NFL.com)

Recovering from Disaster

San Diego County history of disasters started with the mammoth explosion of a Navy ship off our coast in 1908. We’ve dealt with the PSA crash (which produced “the most memorable day in San Diego’s collective psyche,” according to an excellent San Diego Magazine piece from 1998), the 1984 McDonald’s massacre (the U-T has compiled the remarkable coverage of the Union and Tribune, including one of the most iconic and horrific images of the 1980s), the Heavens Gate suicides, multiple school shootings, the wildfires of 2003 and 2007, and more.

How do communities recover from these kinds of traumas? What should we expect — or not expect — of those who lose loved ones?

In the wake of the Aurora shootings, I turned for perspective to two journalists who spent time with survivors of mass murder. One is the author of a book about a mostly forgotten school bombing in 1927 Michigan that took the lives of 38 kids; some of its survivors still live today. The other journalist wrote the definitive book about the Columbine massacre.

You can read my interviews for The Christian Science Monitor with authors Arnie Bernstein and Dave Cullen, respectively, here and here. While they warn about the hazards of silence and instant myths, they also offer reasons for hope amid tragedy.

The Printed Page

For all those dead trees and doomsday predictions about the newspaper industry, today’s printed papers still possess great power to spotlight powerful images and feed not only the brain but the eye.

The U-T knows the score in this game. Yesterday brought the third edition of its redesigned Sunday paper, which introduced bolder photography and graphics along with greater focus on in-depth stories.

Now if only they’d redo the comics and give Mary Worth an extreme makeover. And while we’re at it, how about some new hairstyles for Sally Forth and Luann? You’d think Blondie would know a good stylist.

Correction: The original version of this story said UT San Diego unveiled its new Sunday design this week. It was its third week.

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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