The new City Council members elected in 2008 had a baptism-by-fire initiation to their new job, according to Councilwoman Marti Emerald’s recollection. At her swearing-in ceremony last week after she was re-elected, Emerald said she and the others ” had to cut $200 million from the budget,” during their first week in office in 2008.

Our Lisa Halverstadt re-examined the votes from the time: The Council did OK cuts adding up to more than $200 million — but they were made throughout the course of a year, not packed into that first week. Emerald admitted to VOSD that she misspoke in characterizing the timeline of the cuts.

The Roads Not Yet Traveled By

Having trouble envisioning some of the big transit projects listed in SANDAG’s transportation plan? So is SANDAG. A spokesman told our Andy Keatts that many of the later projects are just ideas at this point, not locked-in projects with specific routes.

‘I Assumed There Were Better Solutions in Place’

“Like many problems in my neighborhood, I assumed there were better solutions in place but not that surprised that once again refugees are left to fend for themselves,” reader Adam McLane wrote of our story this week on City Heights refugees’ fight for more culturally competent health care services, particularly translations during medical procedures.

McLane and others’ voices round out our top comments of the week.

What We Learned This Week

Parsing Homelessness: This week marked our first steps in a deep dive into the issue of homelessness, and whether San Diego can really end it for good, being led by Kelly Bennett.

Many of you provided some thought-provoking questions for Kelly to work with: What are the particular impacts of homelessness in Balboa Park, La Jolla, downtown, the San Diego River? Is it true that other states put their homeless people on a bus with a one-way ticket to San Diego? Whatever happened with the city’s legal agreement not to issue tickets to people sleeping on the streets?

We set about answering a few questions this week involving the scope of the problem. The main count of the county’s homeless population is fraught with complications, including the fluctuating number of volunteers available to take part each year.

#FilnerEverywhere: The only shot you might have at following Bob Filner’s ever-changing whereabouts is by tracking the Twitter hashtag, or this snazzy website, both spawned by his frenetic travels. Thanks to VOSD member and entrepreneur Kelly Abbott, who set up like it was nothing.

How Small Is Small? City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said in a U-T San Diego op-ed that small businesses employ “60 percent of the workforce.” Lisa Halverstadt quickly discovered in a Fact Check that figuring out what makes something a “small business” isn’t very cut and dry. Even the group that provided the statistic that Faulconer used wasn’t sure where it came from. Ultimately, we gave Faulconer a barely true verdict for his statement: Without taking into account San Diego’s large public-sector employers, “Firms with fewer than 100 staffers employ 606,317 workers or about 59 percent of the workforce.”

The Curious Case of the Hotel Lease: The Bahia Resort Hotel on Mission Bay will be around for at least several more decades, thanks to a strange new lease agreement our Andy Keatts detailed this week. The lease was rushed through City Hall without going through the normal committee process, just before new Mayor Bob Filner took over. The agreement didn’t have any provisions requiring redevelopment of the property, an element often included on other long-term leases.

Keatts also poked holes in a city official’s explanation for the rushed treatment of the lease. That official said the city moved swiftly to lock in favorable interest rates. That’s looking pretty far down the road. Or, as Keatts explained it: “The city’s explanation is akin to saying you need to secure a college loan rate for your eighth-grade daughter.”

Quick News Hits

• The U-T collected all the major staff changes taking place in City Council offices. (Also, the writer, Christopher Cadelago, has apparently opened a new bureau for the U-T in Sacramento).

• New devices installed on local roads will help planners track how many bicyclists are using them, KPBS reports.

• The University of California is backing away from a controversial logo it offered up for promotional and marketing materials. (LA Times)

• The director of the Scripps Institution for Oceanography is resigning unexpectedly. (U-T San Diego)

Quote of the Week

“Skate se puede!”

— Bob Filner, riffing on the Spanish phrase “Si, se puede” (or “Yes, we can”), in support of an effort to build a skate park in City Heights.

Sara Libby is VOSD’s managing editor. She oversees VOSD’s newsroom and its content. You can reach her at or 619.325.0526.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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