There’s one major reason hundreds of medical marijuana collectives and storefronts shut down at the end of 2011.

That’d be Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney overseeing San Diego for the Justice Department. To her, and the federal government, marijuana is illegal. No ifs, ands or buts for local dispensaries.

Just 16 months since she sent letters to all of them, threatening them and their landlords with property seizure and worse, Duffy seems to be softening her stance on medical marijuana. That’s what Scott Lewis concludes after her opaque and downright Rumsfeldian interview with U-T San Diego.

The new mayor recently told city code enforcement to back off the collectives and the city attorney said he’d drop legal actions. If the U.S. attorney stands down, could the dispensaries be coming back?

Judge to City: Looks Like Plaza de Panama Redo Is Illegal

In a tentative ruling, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has reluctantly warned the city that the controversial redesign of the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park might be doomed.

The Save Our Heritage Organization offered up three arguments in opposition to the project. One worked and it could be a big one.

City law had forced the city to argue that the Plaza de Panama would eventually become unusable if left in its current condition. The judge said he wasn’t buying it.

In a remarkable argument, Taylor made clear he was deeply conflicted. He thinks those opposed to the project are being “short-sighted,” but they look like they’re right.

The project is not dead yet, a hearing is Friday and supporters have already begun to circle the wagons, but the judge’s comments will weigh heavily on the final decision. Read all about the ruling in our latest story and brush up on the details of the City Council’s approval for the project last summer.

Fact Check TV: Are Mira Mesa Schools Really So Great?

This week in our new Fact Check TV segment, reporters Lisa Halverstadt and Scott Lewis took on some bold statements made by San Diego Unified School District board President John Lee Evans about schools in Mira Mesa.

Back in December, Evans told the U-T that “Mira Mesa High is one of our highest-achieving schools and the elementary and middle schools also win honors.” We crunched the numbers and put his words to the test. Check out our clip with NBC 7 San Diego for the full cinematic effect. If you prefer to see the data, we put pen to paper a few days ago in the original Fact Check format you know and love.

This Week’s Most Popular Reads

The stern and prescriptive words of departing Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long topped our charts this week. After 28 years on the force, the public face of the San Diego Police Department is retiring today, but not before he got in his last two cents on the state of the homelessness problem in America’s Finest City.

Also on the list are stories covering a wide range of issues, including San Diego’s dismal sidewalks, the port veto, rising home prices, and some expensive updates on city pensions for 2013.

A Devastating Correction from the Girls Scouts

Journalism is not for the faint of heart. Corrections like this one can turn strong men into cynics. In yesterday’s Morning Report we wrote that a new Girl Scout cookie, the Mango Creme, would be available this year. That may be true in other cities, but the cookie will not be sold in San Diego.

The communications director for Girl Scouts San Diego has informed us that Little Brownie Bakers, supplier of San Diego scout cookies, does not make the Mango Cremes. We sincerely apologize from the depths of our chubby, chocolate-covered hearts.

Is Tijuana the New China?

In an op-ed for the New York Times, former Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson discusses how his new robotic drone manufacturing company stays competitive by straddling the border between San Diego and Tijuana. Aside from cheap labor, Anderson argues that Mexico also offers a well-educated and sizeable workforce of top-level engineers.

Mayor Filner promised to improve the physical, business, and government infrastructure connecting San Diego and Tijuana. We wrote about his plans to change the border conversation earlier this month in a three-part series. You can find all three stories here, here and here.

The Hotel Del Coronado Turns 125 Years Old

USA TODAY celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Hotel Del’s completion this week. The article mentions one of San Diego’s spookiest and most-legendary ghosts, Kate Morgan, a 19th century woman who checked in complaining of stomach cancer and checked out with with a gunshot to the head. Sightings of Morgan’s ghost have persisted for more than a century and regular VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga —a bit of a spectre himself these days— unearthed some juicy details about her suspicious demise.

The 30 Foot Height Limit: More Fuel for the Fire

Our reporter Andrew Keatts created a bit of a stir with his analysis of the 40-year-old law limiting coastal buildings to 30 feet. The comments section reads like dinner conversation with the Hatfields and McCoys. Now the OB Rag decided to pile on with a biting criticism of Keatts and a comprehensive breakdown of every exception made to the law over the past four decades. Next stop: Hollywood?

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @CCWeatherby.

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.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @CCWeatherby.

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