There’s just one City Council race on the ballot. And it’s a biggie.

If incumbent Sherri Lightner wins, Democrats will continue to dominate the council. If businessman Ray Ellis Republican wins, the GOP will have a majority.

We take a look at the race for District 1, which encompasses northwestern parts of the city like La Jolla, University City and Carmel Valley (but no longer Rancho Peñasquitos and Black Mountain Ranch).

The big issues include traffic, more fire stations and decrepit streets. Our story offers the basics about the race and links to more coverage if you want to dive deeper.

For more about District 1, listen to the latest edition of VOSD Radio.

Fact Check: A Taxing Experience at the Pump

Are taxes responsible for a big chunk of the sky-high gas prices in California lately? Not really, claimed state Sen. Juan Vargas — who’s running for Congress — the other day.

“Actually, the (tax) that you pay is small compared to what you pay total for gas. That is, it’s 10 percent,” he said. (Vargas spoke to Univision in Spanish — this is a translation.)

Fact Check finds his claim “mostly true.” He’s close — the actual number in San Diego is 14.9 percent for unleaded gas — but not quite on target.

Letter: Frye Says DeMaio Is No Watchdog

In a letter, former Councilwoman and near-mayor Donna Frye says mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is no “taxpayer watchdog.” In fact, she writes, he approved not one but two bids to jack up the taxes paid by tourists who stay in the city: “Worse, there was no public vote and none of the money from the tourist tax increases will go to the general fund to help fix our roads and potholes, build neighborhood parks or improve our neighborhood services. “

Arts Report: UCSD Nausea, Orchids and Onions

The Arts Report, our weekly roundup of stories about arts and culture, takes a spin around town. One of the stops is UCSD, where the amazing and weird “Fallen Star” project — which we profiled last year — makes one critic positively ill. But, he insists, that’s a good thing. 

Also: buildings across the county went home with the annual crop of Orchid and Onion architectural awards. (Not that getting an Onion is very rewarding. It means that your building stinks.)

The U-T has photos of the honorees and dishonorees so you can decide for yourself whether they’re as good or as bad as people think.     

Most Popular: Fact-Checking an Education Claim

Our most popular story of the last week was a look at a claim by a taxpayers advocate that the San Diego school district has prioritized iPads over building construction. It turns out the claim is misleading.

The other top stories on our weekly Most Popular list looked at what we’ve learned about the mysterious killings of wildlife by federal trappers and a Fact Check of a claim that the conservative Koch brothers — bogeymen to many lefties &mdash’ are behind a mayoral candidate.   

More Bad News for Bridgepoint

The federal government is investigating Bridgepoint, the for-profit higher-education company based in San Diego. Investigators are interested in the compensation of the company’s admissions workforce, Reuters reports.

News of the investigation sent Bridgepoint’s stock price into a skid. 

For background on Bridgepoint’s troubles, check our in-depth story.

The Millions Behind Those Nasty Ads

• If you watch TV other than PBS or HBO, there’s a good chance you’ve been bombarded with ads touting Scott Peters or Brian Bilbray in the race for the 52nd Congressional District seat.

The race is so tight that it’s one of only a couple dozen seats in the entire 435-member House that are ranked as competitive. 

KPBS finds that super PACs have dumped $4 million on the race, mostly for negative ads that make the two candidates look like wastrels hell-bent on dumping taxpayer money down the drain.

Quick News Hits

• Democratic Councilman Tony Young has finally come out in favor of a candidate: Rep. Bob Filner, the Democrat. (U-T)

“Young used late endorsement for leverage,” our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon wrote on Twitter. “Got both candidates to talk his pet issue (education) & agree to give the council more power.”

• San Diego Magazine profiles Sara Libby, our new managing editor. She talks about San Diego’s politics, the U-T and VOSD’s future: “I would love to help improve the website itself. I think those things are always in need of rejuvenation. And I’ve always been interested in editorial content. I would love to bring in more community members to offer perspectives on the site, incorporating some sort of forum where people can contribute their opinions.”

• The San Diego Fire Department has followed the lead of other public-safety agencies and created a website that offers a live listing of all fire and paramedic calls in the city.

The specific details are scarce: just the type of call (such as “medical” or “vehicle fire”) and the street and cross street.  

The lack of specifics can protect privacy, and that’s a good thing. Do we really need to know which local journalist “tripped over his ego and hurt his head”? (It wasn’t me. Never mind what you heard.)

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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