In the olden days — say, before about 2009 — there was a direct connection between the halls of power and influence in downtown and Mission Valley.

The mayors of San Diego (mild-mannered moderate GOPers, for the most part) and the Copley newspaper publishing moguls (genteel country club Republicans) had a mutually beneficial relationship.

Now, it’s over. The U-T is in the hands of a brass-knuckle brawler who’s more Tea Party renegade than refined society page denizen, and a fighter of another sort will take over City Hall in a couple weeks. They also can’t stand each other.

In the wake of the death of billionaire David C. Copley, the philanthropist playboy and former U-T publisher, I’ve written a commentary examining the evolution of those who run (or think they run or hope to run) the city.

• If you’d like to catch up on the seemingly complicated life of David C. Copley — ultra-wealthy, private, globe-trotting, sickly — you can check the U-T’s obituary of its former owner.

For a fuller look at his life, read this L.A. Times profile from 2005. It describes the “enigmatic” publishing heir’s efforts to influence the U-T’s editorial pages, including local endorsements and the sacking of a liberal columnist over something he wrote.

• The Reader offered an alternative to the conventional narrative in a quite readable 2008 story. It tracks the history of the Copley clan, focusing on its attempts to manipulate local politics and competing media.  

Behind the Epic Water Deal

Local water authorities may approve a major deal to purchase desalinated water. Our Scott Lewis breaks down four big things you should know, from the costs (which aren’t yet clear) to one heck of a major player (the city of San Diego) and how much the private company selling the water might be able to make.  

This is a followup to Lewis’ simple overview of the deal and what’s motivating opponents. 

The vote to purchase water from the desalination plant is Nov. 29. It’s the last major hurdle in a negotiation that has taken a decade to develop. 

Filner’s Challenges Begin

Mayor-Elect Bob Filner wants to redirect a hotel-tax increase going through the city right now to boost public safety spending rather than market for tourism.

It’s not going to be easy for him, we report.

• Filner needs some money and the business and labor community’s are uniting to help him. He has six months to pay off a good bit of debt from the election. The Reader has the scoop on a fundraiser labor’s Lorena Gonzalez and Manpower’s Mel Katz are planning for the new mayor, three days after his inauguration. 

• He’ll have to be careful with his promises. Local progressives have a long list of goals for his leadership, CityBeat lays them out. Sadly, nobody says they want a pony. (But I do!)

Quick News Hits

• California Western School of Law helped secure the release of the first prisoner since Proposition 36 eased mandatory sentencing as part of the Three-Strikes law. In this San Diego 6 story, it appears that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who opposed the law, thinks we can implement it OK. 

• Councilman Carl DeMaio’s Bash-the-GOP-that-I-Embraced Tour is continuing. This time it makes a stop at the U-T, where he tells a reporter that the Republican brand is death to gays and Latinos and hurt his mayoral campaign.

• Here’s the latest entry in our Silent Spring opinion series

School Districts Set to Dispense $4 Billion

Public schools are kind of like members of Congress • people love to complain about them in general, but they often think their own is just peachy. That may be the case locally, where several school districts — including San Diego’s own much-maligned district — convinced voters to boost property taxes so they could borrow money.

We’ve put together a guide to who’s getting money and where it’s going. And we note how school bond measures failed.

Balboa Park Mavens: The Canine Companion

I have a furry friend of the four-legged variety, and she thinks the enclosed leash-free dog park at Nate’s Point in Balboa Park is just about the most awesome thing in the world outside of a kitty for lunch. (Sorry, not on the menu.) If she could talk, the words out of her mouth when we walk in sight of it would be something like “Pick up the pace, old man! Gangway!!”

Turns out that at least two dogs actually live in Balboa Park, along with their owners. We recently profiled one of them — a person, not a dog. Her name is Marlene Williams, and she’ll join us at next week’s Meeting of the Minds event to talk about the secret parts of the park she calls home.

Have You Seen the Little Piggies…

KPBS has a charming story about the plaster piggy bank industry in Tijuana. You can snap up piggy banks that aren’t even the slightest bit porcine: Batman, Mickey Mouse, the Virgin Mary.

No word on whether they have tofurkey banks for vegetarians.

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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