Carl DeMaio, a newcomer to San Diego who quickly made a name for himself as a budget watchdog, barked up a storm in 2005. The city, he declared, was pushing a “stealth tax” — a boost of the local fees that hotel guests must pay when they visit town.

It was especially galling to DeMaio that city voters had twice turned down the tax, but the city kept pushing.

DeMaio 2005 may have a bone to pick with DeMaio 2012. Now a mayoral contender, he thinks not one but two taxes on hotel guests are just fine. He lauds one of them as a “public-private partnership.” (His opponent opposes both tax plans.)

So what happened? A spokesman says things have changed and the city is run more efficiently. That’s nice. But, as our Liam Dillon explains, that doesn’t explain how a terrible “stealth tax” transformed into a beneficial “public-private partnership.”

The Trouble with the Predict-Your-Tax Website

Michael Robertson, the local libertarian who founded and is a provocative opinion-slinger on our site and elsewhere, has created a new website ( that attempts to predict what will happen to your taxes if various increases are approved.

So does it work? Our Scott Lewis finds that the website calculator has problems — Robertson has been willing to make a tweak or two — and offers insight into how you can use it properly.   

Understanding the Education Propositions

If you watch TV or listen to the radio, you’ve been hearing about Props. 30 and 38, which both say they’ll help California schools by boosting taxes.

If both get a majority of votes, only the one with more votes will be enacted. Not surprisingly, this has led supporters of each proposition to target the other. And then there are the people, including self-proclaimed taxpayer advocates, who think they both stink.

If you’re not sure what to vote for (or against), check our voters guide to the two ballot measures. Meanwhile, columnist George Skelton of the L.A. Times offers his view: “Passage of Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30 would spare schools and universities. But a Prop. 38 victory would trigger big reductions.”

• Everything’s coming up voter guides: The U-T has posted its own look at national, state and local races, including links to its endorsements. Missing at least so far, is an endorsement in the 51st Congressional District, where state Sen. Juan Vargas, a Democrat, is a shoo-in to replace Rep. Bob Filner, who is vacating his seat to run for mayor. Vargas’ opponent, Republican Michael Crimmins, got just 20 percent of the vote in the June primary.

Exploring the Mystery of Junior Seau

Not too long ago, the U-T hired a contributor — Jill Lieber Steeg, a journalist who co-owns a sports management and marketing company — to explore the life and death of Chargers icon Junior Seau. After a five-month investigation, the paper has published the first story in a two-part series about the man.

The article pulls back the lens for a look at the troubles that often face pro football players after their careers: “Within two years of retiring, three out of four NFL players will be one or more of the following: alcohol or drug addicted; divorced; or financially distressed/bankrupt. Junior Seau was all three.”

The story quotes Seau’s suicide note — the words to a country song co-written by a friend “about a man who once had it all, but ended up making a mess of his life and is so filled with regrets that he can’t forgive himself.”

One of the first people quoted in the story is former football player John Lynch Jr., the son of U-T CEO John Lynch.    

Quick News Hits

• Just how bad are gas prices in California now compared with the rest of the country? Really, really bad. Check this map from It looks like one lone Nevada county is in worse shape than we are.  

Some parts of the country in and near the South are on easy street, however, with average gas prices in the $3.50 range. Ah, those were the days.

•, a liberal website, reports that a federal appeals court this week will consider the science behind the use of marijuana as a medicine. Last year, we profiled a UCSD professor who’s been a trailblazer in research into the potential powers of marijuana to treat conditions like chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.

• If you were a TV fan in the 1980s, you’re probably familiar with “Simon & Simon,” a detective show about a couple of brothers who live in San Diego. 

Actors Jon “Mad Men” Hamm and Adam “Parks and Recreation” Scott have brought the show’s intro back to life. They recreated the intro shot-for-shot, even heading to UCSD’s Central Library, for a miniature cable show called “The Greatest Event in Television History.”

The result — click here for a nifty video comparison of the original and new intros — is mighty peculiar and mighty amusing. It’s like I have a twin!

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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