Good morning. We have a new website.

Few things:

1. We’ve created a simple form for you to let us know about problems you see. All in all, it’s much better for a number of reasons than our old site. Websites are never finished and we’ve already got a list of improvements assigned.

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3. We’ve also fired up our new forum called The Plaza. Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to be improving its functionality and look. But we also want to see how people use it.

4. Here are our rules for commenting.

Special Report: Consumers Signing Away Their Right to Sue

Companies across the country are putting wording into their contracts that bars consumers from taking them to court.

The contracts require consumers to settle disputes in arbitration, a private form of conflict resolution. As mandatory arbitration clauses have become ubiquitous, our reporter Will Carless found that companies have carved out a world of justice that some insiders and academics say is deeply flawed and biased against consumers.

Not only do corporations write arbitration into their contracts, they’re also increasingly stipulating the exact company or organization that will facilitate the arbitration.

“It is almost impossible for us not to be self-serving,” says one arbitrator. Another disagrees. This is part one of a series.

Behind Sleazy Battle for Few Voters

Last week, as we reported, a last-minute attack drew national attention for bringing up a debunked hint of long-ago involvement with drugs.

In a new story, we take a look at three reasons why the race has become so ugly: Money (tens of thousands are being spent), turnout (expected to be extremely low) and the candidates (one needed to distinguish himself and did so by accepting support from surprising places).

The Pesky Logistics of Bike Sharing

There’s been a tremendous amount of talk lately about making San Diego more bike-friendly, and bike sharing programs are hot.

The concept sounds ideal — keep supplies of bicycles on hand around the city for cyclists to borrow. Locals and tourists who want to bike around are happy, the environment is happy and all is well for everyone. Right?

As (almost) always, there’s a hitch.

As New York City has discovered, shared bicycles need to be stored somewhere, and some Big Apple residents think bike-sharing kiosks are a blight upon the land. As The New York Times reports: “They are already magnets for pigeons, garbage bags and dogs in need of relief. Lawsuits have been prepared. Kiosks have been defaced. At a particularly heated community meeting, an inelegant analogy was drawn between the Bloomberg administration and the Taliban.”

• A website called has expanded its scores of American cities based on their bike-friendliness. The “Bike Score,” from 0-100, is “based on bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), hills, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.”

San Diego doesn’t make the Top 10. Or even the Top 70. It ranks 79th with a score of 47.8, behind Chula Vista at 70th with a score of 49.6.

• Our comments section blew up last year after I complained about reckless bicyclists. Some readers assumed I hate cyclists, but that’s hardly the case. Some of my best friends are… Well, never mind.

Anyway, there’s a growing debate in cities across the country over the responsibilities of cyclists as cities adapt to wider roles for them. In Atlantic Cities, a headline on a commentary by writer Sarah Goodyear, a cyclist herself, puts it this way: “Cyclists Aren’t ‘Special,’ and They Shouldn’t Play by Their Own Rules.”

Quick News Hits

• Someone has a good public relations person: both U-T San Diego and the Daily Transcript offer profiles of Mark Cafferty, the CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.

The U-T also profiles Lani Lutar, the former taxpayer advocate who’s now the executive director of the Equinox Center, “a nonpartisan group dedicated to balancing growth and a healthy environment.”

• There may be no local businesses that get as much fawning coverage from the media as local craft breweries. But is craft brew actually good? A writer from Slate reveals a hidden secret: maybe not. Why? Because fans have become, well, a bit hopped up: “We’re so addicted to hops that we don’t even notice them anymore.”

• Now here’s something you don’t see every day: A cat on a skateboard in San Diego, shared on Twitter via Lululemon Athletica, the athletic clothing company that made the news recently when it recalled overly sheer yoga pants.

As a trained observer, I don’t believe the cat has anything to do with yoga. My guess: it’s heading to Pilates.

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

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