If you had a dollar for every recent pledge about the homeless problem, you might be able to afford one of those new $7 drinks at Starbucks.

Take a look:

•  “Frankly, I want to be the first city in the country that eliminates homelessness in our major cities. I think we can do it.” — Mayor Bob Filner.

• “I can now see a day when we have ended homelessness in downtown. I am committed to achieving this goal in the next four years.” — Todd Gloria, who has newfound powers as president of the City Council.

Then there’s the federal government, which is pledging to end homelessness among military veterans by 2015. That’s an estimated 1,700 people in San Diego County.

Not to mention 2006’s local Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, which called for 2,000 homes for homeless people.

Kelly Bennett has collected all the pledges  she can find and is examining them. Can you help her find more?

Bennett also talks to the often skeptical and perennially outspoken Bob McElroy, head of the Alpha Project.

“This is the first time in 26 years I think we might be able to do this thing,” he says.

Labor’s Future After Lorena

Our Scott Lewis ponders the future of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, the union of local unions, if it loses its CEO Lorena Gonzalez to politics.

Gonzalez recently explained that the Labor Council should get “an organizer” to replace her. Lewis asked her what that meant. Turns out it doesn’t mean someone, necessarily, focused on getting more union members.

Instead, it may mean getting more people organized in ways that make it likely they’ll support sympathetic political candidates.

The Puffery You’re Paying for

The county government has created a taxpayer-funded “County News Center,” the U-T reports. What’s in it? Puffery, puffery and more puffery: “you will find a pattern of coverage portraying the county as essentially faultless. That perception appears to be held among top officials, who call it ‘the finest local government in America’ and then quote themselves saying that.”  

CityBeat’s Dave Maass has previously covered the apparently outsized cost of the county news site. Maass also talked to VOSD’s Lewis, who speaks around town about the phenomenon of governments and politicians, even sports leagues, going direct to consumers with information, rather than just sending press releases to reporters.

Lewis addressed it in more depth in a Member Report months ago. You can get the Member Report, which comes out almost every week, by donating here.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego’s may get its own branch of the nationwide effort Teach for America, the U-T reports. Teachers’ union leaders spoke against the effort in San Diego’s largest district, but it went forward last week and now other districts may need to agree to participate to make it a reality.

• Judging from the pictures fans took, attendance at yesterday’s Charger game was pathetic. The stadium had thousands of empty seats even though the game was blacked out, which is a rule meant to drive up attendance. USA Today reports that the Chargers’ experiment with Groupon for selling tickets didn’t seem to help.

Local Reaction to Newtown Carnage

• The mentally ill have gotten less attention than guns. But U-T columnist Logan Jenkins brings them into the equation, calling for more leeway for courts to order treatment for potentially dangerous people.

• For more about the challenges facing the families of young people with mental illness, check this remarkable personal story that was published in an Idaho publication and promptly became an Internet sensation.

• The folks who run the U-T have weighed in on Newtown, suggesting that it says nothing about America: “we aren’t sure this event makes any sort of broad comment on the United States,” it said in one editorial, adding in another: “This is not the time to take advantage of tragedy. This is not the time for shouting.”

The editorial does not identify who exactly wishes to “take advantage of tragedy.”

Reuben E. Lee Takes a Dive

If you’re a San Diego old-timer, you may remember those two upscale sister restaurants on Harbor Island — Reuben’s (where plenty of folks, including me, went for a fancy dinner before prom) and Reuben E. Lee, housed in a paddleboat.

Eating on the water didn’t work for everyone, including my grandfather, who found the rolling motion at the Reuben E. Lee too much to handle. Eventually, both restaurants closed.

But the Reuben E. Lee paddleboat remains (it was originally built to be a restaurant), and now it’s sinking at its new home near the Coronado Bridge, the U-T reports.

Much of it is under water, just like so many of our homes.

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

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.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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