Mayor Bob Filner has only been in office a short time but quiet talk of a recall of among his detractors made it to a bumper sticker, which was enough to make it on 10 News.

So what does it actually take to recall an elected official in the city? In a new explainer, we break down how it’s not easy at all. And there are opportunities for unintended consequences.

• Over the century or so that recalls have been allowed, San Diego voters have never evicted a mayor. (At least one council member has been recalled, however.) Instead, our mayors tend to quit when things get dicey or just stick it out, as revealed in my recent story about San Diego’s most scandalous mayors.

So why do we get to recall mayors in the first place? Not every city in the U.S. offers this option to its voters.

The credit — or the blame — goes to the Progressive Era of the 1900s and 1910s. That’s when states, especially in the Midwest and West, tried to clean up government by giving voters the right to approve ballot measures and sack politicians between elections. For some background, check our stories here and here.

Fact Check: City Streets Left in Lurch?

“The mayor’s budget skips a year in terms of our street infrastructure repair that the council was planning on doing, delaying that bond for an entire year until 2014,” said Councilman Kevin Faulconer the other day. Is his claim true? San Diego Fact Check finds that he’s correct.

• Faulconer discusses his concerns in a commentary for U-T San Diego here: he writes that it’s “disappointing” that Filner’s budget “shortchanges core neighborhood services, including street repair, and seeks to repeat the financial mistakes of City Hall’s troubled past.”

Marijuana on the City Council Agenda

The City Council is set today to consider Filner’s recommendations on how to deal with medical marijuana in the city.

You might remember that Scott Lewis was trying to figure out how the mayor would manage to raise sales taxes (or excise taxes?) on medical marijuana as he was proposing, without a vote of the people. He had proposed a 2 percent excise tax on the sales of marijuana. (Here was our San Diego Explained.)

That was confusing because excise taxes and sales taxes are different.

Well, the mayor released his final proposal for the tax last week, which had it as a tax on the marijuana the dispensaries acquire and not related to their sales. But the U-T says that’s still confusing and resting on uncertain legal grounds.

Prominent Architect, Downes, Dies

• Prominent local architect Graham Downes has died. He was gravely injured last week in what police consider to be an attempted murder in Bankers Hill. The brief U-T story about the attack is here and includes details about the arrest of one of Downes’ employees.

Downes and his work have been profiled in several local publications. Last fall, CityBeat interviewed Downes, known for “his style of contemporary, minimalist architecture,” about his plans for his landmark Bankers Hill home and the building that now houses the Mandarin House restaurant.

Quick News Hits

• “As a design team drew up plans for replacement steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2005 and 2006, leading researchers were warning of a new threat to the safety of internal tubes coursing with radioactive water,” the U-T reports. “The findings, published in an obscure-yet-authoritative trade journal on pressure vessel technology, have proved prophetic more than seven years later, as engineers strive to understand what caused the failure at the twin-reactor plant in northern San Diego County.”

• A judge has finalized his decision that Mel Shapiro, a local activist, has no standing to sue over the city’s extra 2 percent surcharge on hotel guests, the U-T reports. New taxes are supposed to go before voters; supporters of the tax have turned themselves into pretzels as they’ve argued that the tax is not a tax. And it looks like they’ve won.

• Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents North County and is one of the most high-profile members of the House, sounds skeptical about the chances that a $226 million expansion of the San Ysidro border crossing will actually happen. “I’m not going to pretend that we’re going to do this,” he told local business boosters, reports.

However, he suggested a deal might be possible over the funding if Democrats bend on a giant and controversial oil pipeline through the U.S. heartland.

• The county pension fund fired an employee who’d tried to blow the whistle on what he believed were excessive investment risks. He sued. The fund fought back. The employee lost. But he’s not done: he’s now suing his lawyer, former City Attorney Michael Aguirre.

So how much did this mess cost the county pension fund? At least $200,000, the U-T reports.

• The Koch brothers, boogeymen to liberals, are in the hunt to buy the parent company of the Times, the NY Times reports.

• If you want to see a mummy, the Museum of Man is at your service. The U-T Car Museum, if you can get in, offers a Woody or two at the offices of the main local newspaper. And the California Surf Museum has plenty of surfboards.

What about musical instruments? They’re on display at Carlsbad’s Museum of Making Music, which is devoting an exhibit to harps, the U-T reports.

Sounds heavenly. If you like things a little more devilish, the museum has you covered too. Yup, it recently held an International Guitar Night.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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Randy Dotinga

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

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