The Plaza De Panama in Balboa Park got yet another mayoral makeover proposal yesterday, this time from Mayor Bob Filner. During his campaign, Filner often asked why, if we wanted cars removed from the Plaza, we couldn’t just put up parking cones to divert the cars and call it a day?

Lisa Halverstadt explains that Filner’s proposal on Wednesday involved little more than just parking cones. “The mayor wants to strip the signs and parking lines from the Plaza de Panama and return it to pedestrians,” Halverstadt wrote. “Filner also proposes closing the Cabrillo Bridge on weekends and holidays, though he’d allow two-way traffic on weekdays.”

We’ve been covering the unfolding drama over the park plans since the beginning. One former plan, championed by then-Mayor Jerry Sanders and financially backed by philanthropist Irwin Jacobs (who also supports VOSD), ran into resistance from the community before a judge killed it.

“Filner said Wednesday night that he plans to contact [Jacobs] to see whether he’d like to assist with his temporary solution,” Halverstadt wrote.

Cautious Optimism for Border Funding

“Funding to improve the world’s busiest land border crossing made it into President Barack Obama’s budget but that doesn’t mean the project will shorten lines at the San Ysidro port anytime soon,” reported Halverstadt. She talked to local politicians about whether they think the funding will result in new construction any time soon.

City’s Leases Are Up: San Diego Explained

We recently reported on how the city’s downtown lease on the building at 600 B Street will expire in May if no agreement is reached before then. The sudden rental crisis may seem odd, considering lease deals are generally worked out months, if not years, ahead of time. So Halverstadt teamed up with NBC 7 San Diego’s Catherine Garcia to break down what is going on with the city’s downtown leases and what comes next in this edition of San Diego Explained.

Feds Propose Genetically Modified Food Labels

After a messy and expensive campaign, Californians ultimately turned down a proposition that would have imposed labeling requirements on food made with genetically modified ingredients. But that defeat didn’t stop one California senator from introducing a federal law that would impose national labeling requirements on GM food through the Food and Drug Administration. “Food served at restaurants, “medical food” or foods made with a processing aid (including yeast) or enzyme would be exempt,” wrote Clare Leschin-Hoar on her Active Voice blog. Alcohol would also be exempt, under the proposal.

The Truth About My City Pension Plan

Megan Sheffield was feeling a little ridiculed, since she is among the group of city-employed union members that are often critically discussed in the press. She wrote to us put the situation in the context of how she experiences it. “Analysts, as a classification, have not had an across-the-board pay increase since 2002, 11 years ago. The only change to our salaries was a supposedly ‘temporary’ 6-percent pay reduction implemented in 2009, which is still in effect today,” Sheffield wrote.

U-T San Diego’s editorial board didn’t seem to sympathize with Sheffield, though. “The great majority of the city’s 10,000-plus employees will receive pensions that are far better than those seen in the private sector,” they claimed.

Yearning To Brew Free

San Diego Magazine interviewed local San Diego craft brewers and asked them what their top obstacles to growth are in San Diego. Restrictions on bottle size and on sharing beer between tasting rooms made the list, as did lack of public transportation. But what they’d really like to see is a reduction in the excise tax per barrel. “The goal is to save the tax money and reinvest back in our companies—letting us produce more beer and hire more people,” said Shawn DeWitt, Coronado Brewing Company co-founder.

We recently reported on how land-use restrictions restrict the growth of breweries and push their development to industrialized areas far away from the people who want to visit them.

Marijuana Causes Tension

The U-T reported on how the left and right hand just can’t seem to get together at City Hall, as Filner and City Attorney Goldsmith once again traded jabs in the media. This time, Goldsmith claimed the mayor isn’t enforcing marijuana laws, despite having been forwarded “at least 23 complaints” from the city attorney’s office. “We believe illegal dispensaries are once again beginning to proliferate and impact San Diego neighborhoods due to the word getting out that the mayor refuses to enforce the law,” Goldsmith said.

“I don’t know any of this to be true, or any of it to be factual or any of it to be right or any of it to be relevant because he hasn’t said anything to me,” Filner said.

On Tuesday Scott Lewis explained how the region’s confusion about the drug has reached a new high, with federal law enforcement picking up where the city left off in shutting down dispensaries.

Farmer’s Market Destroyed Improperly

Last year we reported on an incident in Sherman Heights where an historic farmer’s market building was destroyed in order to make way for a Walmart grocery store. The community protested; attorneys got involved. The Walmart machine plowed on and won in court.

Now, the U-T reports an audit has found the farmers market building was knocked down without the proper reviews and that nobody is saying why. “The assistant deputy director for Development Services’ advanced planning and engineering division was unable to explain why a historical resource review was not conducted for this project,” they reported.

News Nibbles

Scott Lewis was interviewed for a story at the Neiman Journalism Lab for their story about political ideologues who buy newspapers.

• “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday it would close its office in San Diego as part of a workforce consolidation,” reported 10News.

• MCAS Miramar asks that you please don’t ride your mountain bike onto land where they have unexploded ordinance lying around.

• The saga of the troubled Tourism Marketing District agreement officially ended yesterday with Filner’s signature on the operating agreement, which releases administrative funds to the TMD.

• 10News quotes two sources who say that “no one can predict what will happen” if the San Onofre nuclear power plant is restarted in its current condition.

• Here’s Filner riding a bike (wearing a helmet, of course). Here’s Filner having a beer. You never know where the Mayor may appear; you can help track him on Twitter using the hashtag #filnereverywhere.

Really, Fully Disclosing Yourself

Dan McSwain recently moved off the U-T editorial page to start writing a business column for the paper instead. He’s also been sober for 16 years after becoming a “full-blown” alcoholic, and he recently lost all the equity in his house and sold it at a short-sale. I know all this because McSwain wants me, and you, and everyone to know it.

In his most unusual staff bio posted on Monday, McSwain makes clear what his investments are (based on a 1949 book), what his journalistic ethics look like (he’ll take coffee and water, maybe) and what his life was like before journalism. The bio caught the attention of FishBowlLA yesterday.

If publishing this kind of bio becomes more common, hang on to your hats. For a preview of what the secret lives of journalists really looks like, you can check out the #PartyLikeAJournalist hashtag on Twitter.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck. Randy Dotinga will return next week.

Seth Hall

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

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