Mayor Bob Filner took office a month ago, but he’s only now getting around to introducing his staff. What’s taken so long? Who knows. But we do know one thing: He’s made headway on his promise to make diversity a top priority.

“Women make up more than half of Filner’s new staffers, and more than a quarter of the hires are black or Latino,” our Lisa Halverstadt reports. “Filner also brought in Asian and LGBT employees.”

More than half of the hires have worked for Filner before, including his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and others. The biggest name among the hires is Donna Frye, the former councilwoman and almost-mayor. She’ll be the director of open government.

Filner is well known as a difficult boss with embittered ex-employees. Not surprisingly, he put a positive spin on that legacy, saying he likes to hire people he knows and who have experience with tension: “I’m a pretty hard driver of people. I demand excellence of myself and them and they know that and it’s important, I think, that you have people who understand that need for excellence because they’re used to it. It’s part of the experience and they can help train the others in that.”

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Filner’s salary is $94,074. Seven of the employees announced yesterday make more than that. (This PDF has the details.) The assistant chief operating officer is making the most — $185,000.

• At his press conference, Filner complained about a U-T reporter who reported the Filner administration had blown off requests for information about staffers: “As far as I know, I didn’t have any Public Records Act requests, by the way, on this issue. A question from a reporter is not a public-records act request. … Just because you asked a question doesn’t make it a legal thing that I have to deal with.”

Funny thing, reports CityBeat: The mayor is wrong.

Video of Our Chat with Economics Guru

If you missed it, catch the video of our One Voice at a Time chat last week with Matt Yglesias, a top thinker and writer on economic, business and housing issues.

30 Feet and Lots o’ Views

VOSD Radio, featuring guest hosts Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts and KOGO program director Cliff Albert, looks at the big news of the week: our reigniting of the debate over the 30-foot height limit near the beach and a new role for one of our reporters.

The Heroes of the Week are VOSD’s CEO and his wife. The Goat of the Week is from the other coast.

A Not-So-Classic Approach to Homelessness

Grape Day Park, which sits just a couple blocks from the main drag of downtown Escondido, is a quaint old park with plenty of grass and shade. Not surprisingly, the homeless love to hang out there. Or at least they did.

Now, the U-T reports, some of the transients have moved elsewhere “thanks to an aggressive campaign that includes loud classical music, tree trimming, extra police patrols and policies discouraging donations.”

Classical music? Yup. It’s apparently making it hard for people to sleep and reducing the park’s cachet among gang members and other undesirables.

• We’ve been printing a series of emails from a newly homeless woman who’s been describing the challenges life on the streets, in coffeehouses and in shelters. A compilation of her latest messages, which have plenty of good news, was our most popular post last week.

You can check out the entire Top 10 list here.   

• The mayor’s fiancee, Brownyn Ingram, is carving out a role as an advocate for the homeless. (U-T)

• The city is putting on a resource fair for transients on Jan. 30. It will help the homeless find coats, haircuts, health screenings and more.

• There’s been a lot of news on the homeless front locally and elsewhere lately. We’ve compiled a list of stories here.

15 Face Indictments in South Bay’s Pay-for-Play Scandal

A whopping 15 people were scheduled to be indicted Monday for their alleged roles in the South Bay pay-for-play corruption scandal, NBC San Diego reports: “The defendants are current and former school officials, elected trustees, and contractors who did work at San Ysidro schools, the Sweetwater school district and Southwestern College.”

Merrifield, Castellano Are New Port Commissioners

A breaking tweet from the San Diego City Clerk Monday evening: “From Chambers: City Council appoints Marshall Merrifield and Rafael Castellano to the Port District.”

They Dither, You Pay

• “The inability of the city and state governments to consolidate a pair of special elections in March will cost San Diego taxpayers an additional $100,000,” the U-T reports. This has to do with special elections to fill vacant City Council and state Senate seats. For more details on the timing of the two elections, see our earlier explainer.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

• Who’s afraid of a giant squid? OK, well, me. Just look at this. They’re even thought to have inspired the legend of the Kraken sea monster.

Now, the U-T reports, “giant” squid are off our own coast. But these are Humboldt squid, a smaller cousin of the Kraken-style monster squid. They’re mysterious, as puts it: “like their giant counterparts, Humboldt squid are enigmatic. No one has seen them mate or lay eggs. No one has watched them develop from egg to adult. No one knows how many exist.”

Yikes. But I have gathered up my courage. Look at me, I’m writing this on my laptop at the beach! What could possibly go w …

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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