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Special Elections Aplenty

With the ink barely dry on the ballots from November’s election, political fortunes are already shifting in San Diego. Seats on the local City Council and California Senate are opening up and just as soon as you thought the musical chairs of the election had ended, those same familiar tunes start playing yet again.

Our Lisa Halverstadt has your guide to the special elections that will be required to fill two of those positions. Tony Young is departing his San Diego City Council seat representing the “Democratic stronghold” of District 4 to take over the local Red Cross. That seat could see multiple Democrats competing in a special election, but according to a report by Halverstadt, low voter turnout could open the door to a Republican challenger.

State Sen. Juan Vargas is vacating his seat and moving on to the US congressional seat left behind by Bob Filner. Filling the vacant seats left by Vargas and Young will require special elections, reports Halverstadt, but the two elections may not happen at the same time.

The seat being vacated by Vargas may be attracting the attention of Assemblyman Ben Hueso. If he wants to make that move, he would likely win his bid and leave his current position in the Assembly vacant.

That’s where local labor leader Lorena Gonzalez comes in, writes our Scott Lewis. As we reported in yesterday’s Morning Report, Gonzalez announced that she’s ready to run for Hueso’s seat, whether he moves to the state Senate in a special election or rides his term out until 2016.

Gonzalez’s supporters took to Twitter in support of her announcement, with a gusto for campaigning that mystifies those of us whose fingertips are still bandaged from November’s nail-biting election, which only officially ended on Tuesday.

Finally, U-T San Diego’s Craig Gustafson confirmed via Twitter  yesterday that “land-use attorney Lee Burdick will be leaving [the] Port Commission” to join Bob Filner’s staff, prompting Lewis to offer another post-election shuffle metaphor. “Ooh a port commission seat open now. My goodness. Post election dominos keep falling,” he wrote.

Seizing the Moment

Now that Filner and Todd Gloria are seated in the top positions of power in city politics, our Andy Keatts notes that San Diego is in a unique position to lead the way on public transit policy. “We couldn’t be better poised politically to get a change in this area, with (Filner) and (Gloria) where they are,” activist lawyer Marco Gonzalez told Keatts. Gonzalez was one of the attorneys who successfully opposed the San Diego Association of Government’s proposed 40-year transportation plan.

“San Diego’s transit-friendly new political leadership could pave the way for a change in priorities within the region,” reports Keatts.

Shining on Sanders

“Now that San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has exited office, we decided to ask civically active San Diegans to reflect on his tenure and the last seven years,” writes our Liam Dillon. A port commissioner, a political consultant, and an executive director of a bike advocacy organization all share their thoughts on the Sanders era. Read on to find out which one of them “would walk through fire for him any day.”

‘The Fall’ of U-T San Diego

“It’s been just about a year since developer and financier Douglas Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest newspaper in the city,” writes Media Matters For America.  “For some staffers and media observers, it’s been the worst year in the paper’s eight-decade history.”

The criticism of U-T San Diego’s operations went on at length, pointing to the paper’s positions on a myriad of issues such as stadium development, the “PORT” of San Diego, and the paper’s ill-fated campaign to elect Carl DeMaio as mayor. Many local journalists (some of them anonymous U-T staffers) and editors were quoted in the story, including former Voice reporter Rob Davis. Mark Sauer, senior news editor for KPBS, also gave a speech in La Mesa that was critical of U-T San Diego, reported La Mesa Patch.

“In terms of image,” U-T San Diego Editor Jeff Light told Media Matters, “I leave that to the marketing department. I can’t spend my time second-guessing what people will think.”

Windfall Heading for Public Safety

A nearly seven million dollar reimbursement from miscalculated fees for administration of property taxes is headed to the city of San Diego, and mayor Bob Filner has a good idea where he wants it to go, reported San Diego 6.

“I had made a promise during the campaign that we’re going to do everything possible, every time that we can, to increase the equipment, the staffing levels and the working conditions of our police officers and firefighters, and I intend to fulfill that promise,” Filner said.

News Nibbles

• Ousted Congressman Brian Bilbray helped swear in his son, Brian Pat Bilbray, into his second term on the Imperial Beach City Council, reports Imperial Beach Patch

• A former San Diego Union-Tribune reporter wrote about a San Diego-based treasure hunter who has hunted for rare fur pelts, the body of Osama Bin Laden, shipwrecked bounty and even bird guano. “I just want to be President, and one of the quickest ways to do that is through guano mining,” the man said.

• A play based on the TV show “The Honeymooners” will open at the Old Globe in San Diego next year, reports The New York Times.  Adapting a TV show to stage? “Could be tricky biz,” says U-T San Diego’s theater critic.

• The U-T’s Kevin Acee reported yesterday that Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith and Coach Norv Turner “will be fired” at the end of the season.  The problem is Acee wrote almost the same thing a year ago, also citing unnamed sources. Acee explained the difference between this year and last year’s claims: “Difference between this year and last is a year …”

Hard Times for Seasoned Atheists

KPBS reports on La Costa Glen retirement community that is home to an increasingly popular and controversial group. Calling themselves “Atheists Anonymous”, the group’s first meeting drew 16, mostly elderly, members but has since grown to dozens of attendees. But according to Brigit Clarke-Smith, who founded the group, they are barred from being listed on the center’s events calendar and from putting fliers in mailboxes of non-attendees.

The center simply says it wants to “keep clear” of sponsored religious activities. Clarke-Smith just doesn’t want people to think that atheism is “poisonous.” 

“We’re not bad people. We’re good people” she said.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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