The Morning Report
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Up, up and up goes the city’s projected budget deficit. Down, down and down goes the city’s credibility when it comes to running itself.

As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, yet another spanner (whatever that is) has been thrown into the budget projections. This time, the hitch is from savings due to “managed competition” — letting city employees bid against outside companies to provide services — that don’t appear to be forthcoming.

The mayor’s not-exactly-welcoming thoughts about managed competition make the picture even more complicated.

• We’ve got an update on our ongoing quest to understand why city sidewalks are in such bad shape. Turns out, the last mayor prioritized disability retrofits and access repairs after lawsuits piled up. Also, we include a look at what are other cities doing.

And we found a legal memo that outlines the city’s liability for sidewalks.

One thing we’re wondering: if a decrepit sidewalk shows up on our blog, The Stumblr, does that mean the city officially knows about it and may be liable if someone takes a faceplant because of it?

D4 Debate Organizers Exclude Media

The U-T’s Craig Gustafson went to the first big debate of the District 4 City Council race now underway and was kicked out. John Warren, the publisher of the Voice and Viewpoint community newspaper and organizer of the event tossed Gustafson for unspecified reasons.

“I think Warren didn’t want evidence of how obnoxious he was being to the candidates,” Gustafson tweeted. Another U-T scribe put it best: “That is just plain stupid.”

The ballot order is set for the big race to replace former City Council President Tony Young. Here’s a recent fact check on the demographics of the district.

No, Let’s Actually Talk About Height Limits

Our coverage of the city’s height limit along the coast has annoyed the heck out of some. They think we’ve been bought off (if so, someone should ask for a refund), and we’ve even been accused of launching a “jihad” on the law. If so, it would be the world’s most pathetic jihad. But I digress.

Our Scott Lewis writes that we absolutely should be having this discussion. He says we want to “keep pushing people to think about what their restrictions on development mean for housing costs in San Diego.”

Photo Essay: Care for the Homeless

Our contributing photographer Sam Hodgson dropped by Golden Hall yesterday to chronicle a coalition’s efforts to help the homeless with things like haircuts, legal services, dental work and food. Click here to see photos of the homeless, their helpers and (of course) a politician or two.  

Lawsuits Filed over Messy Occupy Arrests

The city’s crackdown on the Occupy movement back in 2011 wasn’t one of San Diego’s best days. (Listen to my appearance on VOSD Radio back then for details on why it was a disgrace that no local leaders could reach a better solution.)

Although its blunders didn’t make much news, the Sheriff’s Department held 51 arrested activists on buses for hours, forcing some to urinate and defecate where they sat. The department acknowledged it made a mistake then clammed up.

Now, CityBeat reports, the sheriff’s department and the city police  face lawsuits from six of the women who were arrested. They claim their civil rights were violated.

Filner’s Failings on Transparency

The local news media have been complaining for weeks about how the office of Mayor Bob Filner refuses to deal with reporters. Calls and emails go unanswered.

CityBeat notes how things have changed from just a few weeks ago: “the figurative gates of the city are bolted shut. In fact, the city is far less open at this stage than it was at any point during Jerry Sanders’ second term as mayor… So far, it’s been nearly impossible for any reporters in the city, including those whom Filner likes, to get questions—about anything, big or small—answered by his two-member communications staff.”

• Perhaps to assuage some of this tension, Filner held a gathering for the press Wednesday, where he unveiled a new live camera watching over the seals in La Jolla.

Filner also said he met with the U.S. attorney general about medical marijuana and admitted that the city attorney rolled him in recent political maneuvering about the issue. Asked if he was too rash when he tried to unilaterally get the city to stop enforcing its code against marijuana collectives, Filner said he has to do that kind of thing to make change.

Quick News Hits

• State officials have planned the first of several hearings about whether power customers (including those of SDG&E) should get the bill for the costs to run the ailing San Onofre nuclear plant (patch.com)

• The number of local deaths due to the flu has risen to 19, but health officials still aren’t sounding the alarm. All but one of the dead had a pre-existing medical condition.

We told you earlier this week about the horrific flu of 1918, which left 1 in 200 San Diegans dead and spawned a big battle of commerce versus public health. On the lighter side, an anecdote about a ban on spitting in Balboa Park is one for the ages.

• The state is allowing a $13.4 million plan to expand Horton Plaza to go ahead. (U-T)

• Local TV personality Loren Nancarrow discovered this week that he has a brain tumor. He’s blogging with tongue in cheek (“Tumor Humor,” he calls it) prior to a surgery scheduled for today.

• What’s brewing in San Diego? A storm? Trouble? Rebellion? (Yes, please!) Nope. A Seattle blogger says it’s beer, and mighty good beer too: “San Diego is simply the best brewing city in America.”

• Want to watch something blow up on Saturday? No, not your least-favorite local journalist’s ego. Weather permitting, the South Bay Power Plant (a longtime Chula Vista eyesore) will implode at 7 a.m.

Patch.com has details about where you can watch. Think of it as a case of might overcoming blight.

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.

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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