The city leases thousands of square feet of office space downtown and some of the leases it has are expiring soon. Lisa Halverstadt explains in a new post how little time the city has to get a deal done.

The city’s leases are usually renegotiated months, or even years, ahead of time. City staff went through a formal bidding process and selected a firm to do the job. But Mayor Filner had other ideas. He made a last-minute change to the plans, and gave the responsibility to local business owner Jason Hughes, who offered to negotiate the leases free of charge. “Hughes must now address three of the city’s biggest downtown leases, including one that expires at the end of next month.”

The firm originally hired for the work “is weighing a challenge to the mayor’s decision,” reported Halverstadt.

Homeless’ Hospital Visits Cost How Much?

A big selling point for the Project 25 program was that it would save money to proactively provide intensive services to the homeless who are most likely to end up in emergency rooms and jail cells. Kelly Bennett checked up with Project 25 directors on how much it has saved.

Compared with the $4.2 million in public services the group used in 2010, they used only about $2 million in 2012 after entering the Project 25 program. Project 25 estimates a $1.4 millon savings to public programs.

But the 2010 estimate of $4.2 million surprised Bennett, who remembered officials saying this cost was more like $11 million back when the program originally began.

“We originally were using hospital charges or bills and have since decided to use hospital costs,” wrote Kris Kuntz, Project 25’s data analyst.

San Diego Explained: Planning a Community

Community plans provide the vision for how a community will grow and what it wants to ultimately become. If developers want to do something not envisioned in the community’s plan, they have a long road to hoe. Andy Keatts and NBC 7 San Diego’s Catherine Garcia teamed up to explain how it all works.

Readers Write In: Hotelier’s Cabal and More 

• Mark Hovey, CEO of the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, wrote with some clarifications he wanted to make in response to Scott Lewis’ recent post about “the city attorney’s “Big Gamble” on pensions.

Filner and the president of the board of trustees that oversees the retirement system are planning a press conference to demand the city attorney drop the effort. The U-T’s Craig Gustafson got a response from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

• “The hotelier cabal is what stands between San Diego being what it is, and San Diego being the world-class city it should have been long ago,” wrote George Mullen. “Hoteliers do have an important role in tourism and should be at the table. However, they should not be ruling the table as they do today.”

• Finally, Margaret Akin went on a walk with her infant granddaughter down El Cajon Boulevard and wrote to us with a trip report on the area’s sidewalks. “Traffic engineers have benefited drivers at the expense of pedestrians. No wonder we’re overweight or injured,” she wrote.

Your Cell Phone, a Weapon?

U-T San Diego reported on a video that has been widely circulated on the internet showing a San Diego police officer acting aggressively towards a man holding a cell-phone camera after the officer claims the cell-phone could be used as a weapon. “Look it up on the internet,” the officer tells the man before allegedly knocking the phone out of the man’s hand and throwing him to the ground.

News Nibbles

• Jennifer Adams-Brooks, the chair of the San Diego Foundation’s Board of Governors and the chief of staff at the Housing Commission, has died.

• Graduation rates are up across California, including at San Diego Unified, KPBS reported.

• A full half of San Diego’s police officers will be eligible to retire in just four years. Of the 888 officers hired by the SDPD since July 2005, 29 percent have already left. We rated both of these claims “Mostly True”.

• Time Warner Cable “likely won’t carry Padres in 2013,” wrote the UT. Sorry, Time Warner subscribers. You won’t be able to watch the Padres and the Dodgers beatin’ on one another any time soon. Star Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke broke his collarbone when Carlos Quentin charged the mound after Greinke’s pitch hit Quentin.

A Plea For Vets

Congressman Duncan Hunter published an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for Gen. Eric Shinseki, the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to step down. “The time for good intentions is over. Veterans are not getting the service they deserve,” wrote Hunter.

Hunter cites a recent CIR investigation which showed that veterans often have to wait a year or more to begin receiving benefits after filing a disability claim. “In too many cases,” he wrote, “veterans are dying before their claims are adjudicated — 53 each day on average.”

Newsblogger of Record

California Assembly Bill 642 proposes to permit the online publishing of public notices by allowing Internet-only entities to become “newspapers of general circulation,” according to the La Jolla Light. In theory, that would allow sites like Voice of San Diego to advertise legal notices — a cash cow of any printed newspaper (or a cash calf, at least).

The Light thinks it’s a terrible idea, though, and notes that similar bills have already failed. “The criteria used to establish an Internet-only entity to be the official newspaper for a community is so weak it would allow any blogger or hobbyist with a laptop, tablet or smart phone to qualify.” Blogger, you say? 

Alright, but only if I can wear my fuzzy slippers, too.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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