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Earlier this week, I reported that the committee working on planning for the giant 2015 celebration in the works for Balboa Park had shut down operations as funding from the city was stalled in Mayor Bob Filner’s office.
Filner, Thursday, wandered into the Voice of San Diego office, and I had a chance to ask him about it. He said it was the first he’d heard of the problem. Later that day, he met with the co-chairs of the committee, and authorized their checks.
Everything’s fine there. (Here’s U-T San Diego’s update.)
But on a different point, Filner said another stalled payment, a much larger one, is not going to be easy to release.
Over the years, we’ve explained the two attempts the city has made to increase the hotel room tax without a vote of the people. The City Council approved a nearly 40-year extension of a 2 percent tax hike that residents never voted on. The money is going to the hotelier-controlled Tourism Marketing District.
Except Filner’s not letting it go. And, he told us in our office, he’s not going to.
This will be interesting to watch. I asked him about the Convention Center. If he thinks the 2 percent hotel room tax is illegal, does he think the same thing about the one for the new Convention Center expansion?
He pointed out that a court will be deciding whether that one’s legal.
Sidewalks Can Be Fixed!
So it turns out the city knows how to study neighborhoods and their sidewalks. And it knows how to fix them when it does.
But it has only done it for three neighborhoods.
• We’ve been studying bad sidewalks, what other cities do and some places with no sidewalks. Friday, a man fell 50 feet into a cactus after walking along a street with no sidewalk. Few issues have generated as much engagement as our sidewalk focus, thanks for your feedback and participation in The Stumblr.
• It’s not cheap to even get permission to put in a sidewalk yourself if you want to.
Round Two for The Bahia Begins Monday
The City Council, the mayor and the city attorney will meet behind closed doors Monday to discuss the unusual lease extension for the Bahia Resort Hotel, which was rushed through the Council late last year.
Homeless Food Servers Coordinating
A former top cop in San Diego’s police department recently criticized those who hand out food to the homeless. He said they might have good hearts but often they’re not helping people help themselves.
Now, a group of those who work to provide food to the homeless are trying to coordinate their efforts better.
• We have two new reader commentaries on homelessness. Reader Connie Lambert says we’ve all been desensitized to the homeless (to which some commenters said we’re too sensitive). And reader Doris Payne shared her story about volunteering.
Mayor Won’t Stand in Way of Managed Competitions Under Way
Mayor Bob Filner does not want to stop changes made by the city’s managed competition process. He just wants to reconsider those services that might be put out to bid in the future. He said his staff misunderstood him earlier, causing concern that re-organization of some services already set in motion may be halted.
Filner also recanted criticism of the managed competition process in regard to the city’s fleet services program. He had repeatedly denounced the service level at fleet services, blaming managed competition. But the U-T called it out as a falsehood, noting that managed competition hadn’t been implemented yet.
“The evidence that I had seen that it was not working was because they had not finished the process yet,” Filner told us when he visited our office.
What We Learned This Week
Candor Is Better with Solid Facts: Many seemed to be thrilled that the new chief financial officer of the San Diego Unified School District doesn’t want to paint over the district’s problems. But Stan Dobbs could have done so without some crucial errors. He missed on the average teacher salary and on studies about the impact of class sizes.
• The president of the school board also chimed in.
• The school board can fire Dobbs directly, according to his contract.
• Writer Will Carless discussed all of this on KPBS’s “Evening Edition.”
A Big Debate About a Big Park Ends Abruptly: A judge reaffirmed his ruling that the big plan to redesign Balboa Park’s Central Mesa and Plaza de Panama could not happen unless the city changed or waived its law. And it all sort of went still when the primary backer of the effort, philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, said it was over.
• Reader David Douglas called the decision “short-sighted and wrong;” but Judith Swink argues the plan would have done “a major disservice to all of us.” Both of their insights are among our Comments of the Week.
Quick News Hits
• If the city ever wants to put something new where Qualcomm Stadium sits, it will have to do something about the gigantic plume of pollution underneath the site. The city lost a big court decision in the case against Kinder Morgan that the city began in 2007.
• If you were a journalist covering public affairs or politician in San Diego, you likely knew Ian Trowbridge. The confrontational civic activist, who cared deeply about San Diego and whose lawsuits had major effects, died this week. RIP, Ian.
• Time-Warner Cable subscribers have not been able to watch the San Diego Padres play ball but now the team and the cable company are meeting.
Monday’s Morning Report misidentified which agency would be weighing in on the Barrio Logan community plan update in 2015. It’s the California Coastal Commission, not the City Council.
Quote of the Week
“At this point, it’s over.”
— Irwin Jacobs on his involvement in efforts to overhaul Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama.
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.