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When you want to count the residents in a neighborhood, you can hire a census taker and send her door-to-door. But what if the people you’re counting have no addresses, no doors and no place to lay their heads?

That’s the challenge facing those who want an accurate count of homeless people. They’ve got to find the homeless, who aren’t always standing on a sidewalk and waiting to be enumerated, and make sure they don’t count them twice.

As we settle in to a long-term examination of the homeless issue, our Kelly Bennett takes a look at the issue of statistics. Her story is here.

First, why does it matter? “You can’t fix what you can’t measure,” a local task force member says. Second, what are the numbers? Surprisingly high, the third biggest in the country for a metro area, even though San Diego isn’t in the top 10 in terms of overall population. Third, how do they come up with the numbers in the first place? It’s a tricky process.

Behind Those Very Bad Bolts

The guano at La Jolla Cove isn’t the only thing that stinks in town.

Why are the Chargers so awful this year? In conjunction with NBC 7 San Diego and a former NFL linebacker and Charger named Jim Laslavic, we examine what’s gone wrong in a San Diego Explained video segment.  

No, nobody has cast a curse upon the team, at least as far as we know. The problems have to do with injuries, mismanagement, young players and a few other things.

Meanwhile, yet another Chargers game is going to be blacked out, the U-T reports, so at least you won’t need to watch another disappointment (or a surprising victory, like last week) live on TV.

Also: Amazingly, the team isn’t technically out of the playoffs.

In Their Words, City Heights Women on Translation Challenges

As we reported this week, refugees in City Heights face special challenges at the doctor’s office.

“They say current phone lines set up to provide translations aren’t enough,” our Megan Burks reports. “Often, patients who don’t speak English rely on family and friends to relay complex medical information — putting the patients at risk of misinformation with possibly harrowing consequences.”

A partner of Speak City Heights, a media collaboration that’s covering the neighborhood, has created a traveling exhibit of person-sized banners showing photos of refugees along with their words about their frightening encounters with the medical world. You can look at the photos here.

“I don’t trust doctor anymore,” says Amina, who’s originally from  Somalia and misses the face-to-face translation services that were available to her previously in Minnesota. (Here, clinics often rely on telephone translation services.)

“When I have a bad problem or anywhere my body hurts,” she says, “I don’t go to doctor.”  

Update: Cell Phone Tax Tango in Chula Vista

Chula Vista has been taxing cell phone users for years, even though the tax may be illegal. The city says the tax is kosher, but it’s been protecting itself by stashing away the money from the tax in case a court rules otherwise. The city could get socked with damages beyond the stash, however.

We last checked on the issue in 2011, when the city faced a lawsuit. Now, we have an update:  The case is heading toward trial.

Potentially at stake: big money for lawyers, big damages and legal fees for the city and a fairly small payout for cell phone users.

Letters: La Jolla’s Smell and the Local Fishwrap

In letters:

• We hear from a reader named Thomas Kelly about the stinky-mess by-the-sea: “For God’s sake, and every San Diegan’s for that matter, power-wash the La Jolla Cove.”

• Bob Davies calls for more volunteers to tackle the city’s problems: “I have tried to volunteer with the city in various capacities and sometimes it is welcomed, and sometimes it is not.”

• Clarence Bolin and Rob Calderhead are annoyed by the evolution of the U-T.

An Urban City That’s More Like an Urban City

San Diego’s voters have “become more independent, more diverse, and more similar to other large urban areas,” says a National University System Institute for Policy study, patch.com reports.

Round and Round We Go

To be honest, I’m a bit dumbfounded by traffic roundabouts, like the ones up in Bird Rock. 

But plenty of people love the things, which have support from some traffic gurus. Their fans include U-T columnist Logan Jenkins. He writes that “there’s just something profoundly appealing about cruising slower but proceeding faster than the harshly lighted Dark Age B.R. (Before Roundabouts).”

He adds: “Roundabouts offer a respite from an inhuman transportation grid in which we’re expected to waste time (and brakepads) without complaint, all in the name of an illusory sense of safety.”

What about those of us who live for illusory senses and non-reality? We have needs too!

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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