Of all the criticisms of San Diego’s 1960s-era, asbestos-filled, earthquake-exposed City Hall building, one sticks in my mind.
The City Council and mayor’s offices and the council chambers are located on the building’s 10th, 11th and 12th floors. So decisions are made at the top and then drift down to the masses 12 stories below. This isn’t a good look for government that’s supposed to be of, by and for the people.
Too often political journalism looks the same way. It focuses on those inhabiting the equivalent of San Diego’s 10th through 12th floors to the exclusion of the people who put them there.
I’m going to try and change that. My new assignment will be to tackle local government reporting from the bottom up.
You’ll see much less from me about pensions and budgets. Instead, you’re likely to see more on emergency response times, building permits, streets, sidewalks and other ways San Diegans interact with their governments.
Think of my role as covering the city rather than just City Hall.
I’ll have some responsibilities that go beyond this mandate. Building on our street-level coverage of last year’s City Council races, I’ll be writing about the coming election in District 4, which comprises San Diego’s southeastern neighborhoods. I’ll also be taking over our narratives about U-T San Diego. There are one or two traditional City Hall narratives that I’m still digging into, too.
And my work will still sometimes take me within City Hall’s corridors. Add that to Kelly Bennett’s homelessness coverage, Andrew Keatts’ land-use reporting and Lisa Halverstadt’s fact checking and explainers and we’ll continue our aggressive watchdogging of city government.
But I’m excited about the possibilities that will come with a different focus. I’m going to need your help.
How is your local government helping or hurting your neighborhood or business? Have you noticed an odd project they can’t seem to finish or a problem that needs to be discussed more in the corridors of power?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
I’m looking forward to starting new conversations.
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5663.
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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