Remember the countless debates during the Republican campaign for the presidential nomination? They were endlessly entertaining, full of fascinating characters and useful to voters too.

The 30-odd debates among the two mayoral rivals since June haven’t had the same drama. But they’ve had their moments.

Our Liam Dillon has sat through many of the debates — which became largely “a joyless recitation of talking points and arguments about how much of a jerk the other guy is” — and offers a trio of take-home messages about what we can learn from them:

• Neighborhoods Got Something Out of Them. In a word, promises.

• DeMaio Got Time to Make His Transformation; Filner Got Time to Make Digressions. (The transformation for DeMaio is a journey to moderation in a city that doesn’t like extremes in its mayors.)

• More Is Not Necessarily Better. At least when it comes to debates.

The good news is that they’re over. The last debate was Wednesday.

• Never mind the voters who have already voted by mail: Last-minute endorsements keep coming in. The latest biggie is from a former president named Clinton. He likes Filner. (KPBS)

More Districts Scared Away from Poway-Style Bond

Eeek! Run for your lives! Halloween monster? Nope. The scariest thing facing local school districts is the prospect of facing an avalanche of bad publicity like the Poway school district did after journalists got wind of its risky borrowing scheme.

“Spurred on by the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association, five of the six districts in the county floating new bond measures recently passed resolutions saying they won’t use capital appreciation bonds like Poway’s,” reports our investigative intern Holly Pablo. “The remaining district plans to pass a similar resolution in November.”

But there’s a hitch: The resolutions aren’t legally binding, and the districts have tended to give themselves loopholes.

Our story explains why the districts are skittish and how they’re keeping their options open.

Dancing for Dollars

The city’s commission on arts and culture would like a big boost in its budget, from $7.8 million this year to $17.9 million a few years from now. To help make a case for the spending, a school brought third-grade dancers to City Hall last week to charm politicians.

But, as our Kelly Bennett reports, “the proposal itself is far more complicated than the adorable pitch to councilmembers.” In fact, the commission (which didn’t invite the dancers) normally doesn’t spend money on programs for kids.

Councilman David Alvarez, for one, was confused: “we just saw a group of performers from an elementary school, clearly — it sounded like, my interpretation was that they received some funding in the past.”

Quick News Hits

• The San Diego mayor’s race is getting national attention for a reason you might not expect — the role of support for bicycling.

Would you rather walk? A new report is out about the county’s most walkable cities.  

• Escondido’s police chief, Jim Maher, will retire at the end of this year amid a mysterious investigation that resulted in his being put on leave. (U-T)

• The county will have the power to order an organic farm in North County to do something about a pesky gnat problem that has driven neighbors around the bend. But it appears that the farm has already greatly cut down the gnat population. (U-T)

• U-T columnist Matthew Hall is not a fan of San Diego’s red-light cameras, which allow the city to cite red-light runners.

“Most of us,” he claims in a new column, want the cameras gone. They’re “an unwarranted intrusion,” cause accidents and spawn too-expensive fines, he adds.

Essentially, Hall wants the city to pull over. The two mayoral candidates are with him on this.

If I ever do get caught by one of these devices, I plan to yell, “Come and get me, coppers!” at the camera. Then I’ll wait politely for the ticket in the mail. Because I’m just that kind of non-rebel.

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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