If you are looking for a cushy new job, you might want to consider running for San Diego City Council. The workload for one committee has been so light this year that they canceled a regularly scheduled meeting just because there wasn’t anything to talk about. And then, they did it again.

It’s no fault of the City Council, though. The empty agendas can be chalked up to a new policy instituted by Mayor Bob Filner’s office that has slowed the city bureaucracy to a crawl.

When the new mayor took office, he announced that all city expenditures must cross his desk before they can move on to a council vote. The increased oversight might not be a bad idea, but the councilmembers may want to have a good paperback on hand while they wait.

Our recent coverage takes a look at one of the major public works projects affected by the new policy.

Emails from Home: Liz Hirsch’s New Residence

Liz Hirsch began sending us emails a few months ago in an attempt to document her struggles with homelessness in San Diego. From coffee shops and libraries around the city, she wrote of the unique difficulties she faced as a single adult woman in very desperate circumstances.

She recently found a new residence and has continued her correspondence. This week she shared some advice on living in a group home with strangers.

Active Voice: Foreign Language Requirements in SD Schools

San Diego school teacher and VOSD contributor Oscar Ramos expands the conversation on foreign language requirements in schools with a reflection on President Obama’s recent fireside chat. He proposes that computer science programs could one day fulfill the mandated foreign language requirements.

• Also on Active Voice, sports writer Beau Lynott sounds off on the ridiculous game of musical chairs that sent San Diego State University chasing imaginary money into the Big East football conference, only to end up right back where they started.

Reader Voices

A formerly homeless woman wrote in to VOSD this week to share her personal experience as a senior citizen with limited job prospects. She raises a few provocative questions, most notably: “How does an educated woman of 71 find a way to make a living in this economy?”

Readers also came out on both sides of the fray on the need for mayoral approval of a new tax to produce advertisements for San Diego tourism. Defenders of the hotel industry say the mayor is killing jobs by holding up the approval. Critics of the tax say hotels should pay a living wage.

Outside VOSD

The Pomerado News published an op-ed this week applauding the Poway Unified School District’s moves toward greater transparency. The editorial specifically cites new policies that require videotaping of meetings and greater oversight in controversial bond decisions. The rosy picture runs counter to recent findings by VOSD showing that the district is still evading records requests and basic background information on the investigation into last year’s billion-dollar bond fiasco.

• The U-T San Diego reports that federal sequestration will lead to longer border waits due to lane closures and overtime cutbacks for the California Border Patrol. This is an especially unfortunate setback for mayors Filner and Bustamante, who recently began taking the first steps toward improving border infrastructure. We reported on the mayoral efforts back in January.

• City leaders approved Filner’s new plan to revamp the Port Commission selection process, reports the U-T. The approval follows Filner’s successful veto of the City Council’s two Unified Port of San Diego Commission appointees. We provided back story for this complicated controversy in a San Diego Explained segment several weeks ago.

Quick News Hits

● Air traffic controller errors spiked nationwide last year, according to data acquired by the U-T. The FAA says the rise is due to increased error reporting. The inspector general says otherwise. The primary culprit? San Diego.

● San Diego Rep. Duncan Hunter wrote an op-ed for USA Today arguing that medals awarded to drone pilots is an insult to soldiers.

● City Council candidate Sandy Spackman knowingly broke the law, according to ABC 10 News, by bringing together a group of volunteers to fill potholes with dirt. No word on whether she will be cited for the political stunt.

● The Associated Press reports that San Diego City Council is considering an ordinance to allow marijuana to be sold in vending machines. The company Medbox is hoping to install 30 machines around the city.

● An enterprising Coronado Girl Scout was chastised for her efforts to sell cookies over the internet using Paypal, according to Coronado Patch. Something tells me that setting up shop next to one of those vending machines might be her next bold move.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the source of what compelled readers in our letters roundup to submit commentaries.

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

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

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