Is your community group looking for some financial support? How does $5,000 sound? That’s the amount of money that will fund the community group that offers the best neighborhood project in Politifest’s revamped Idea Tournament.

Politifest isn’t until Aug. 3. (The details are here.) But you only have until June 30 to enter the Idea Tournament, so get cracking by clicking here.


Scott Lewis recently looked deeper into a much ballyhooed new lease deal for the city of San Diego in a downtown private office building. It didn’t quite save as much money as the mayor claimed.  But it was a big discount. And it brought up the question: What are other government agencies leasing space downtown paying?

Lewis found an almost perfect comparison: the San Diego Association of Governments signed a lease for almost the same period, similar sized space and right across the street.

There are a few difference, however. For one, SANDAG is going to spend millions more than the city will over the six or so years of their leases.

There are lots of possible explanations, and Lewis explores many of them in depth in a post loaded with images.

Fact Check: School Board Side Jobs

A trustee on the San Diego Unified school board prompted some questions by taking the job as the highest profile labor union leader in town. The school district and his counterparts on the board dismissed worries about a conflict. A lawyer said the trustee, Richard Barrera, would have to recuse himself from a few discussions, potentially.

But to explain why it wasn’t a problem, John Lee Evans, the president of the school board, said all the board members had to balance full time jobs apart from their work on the district. We decided to take the opportunity to log what all the school board members do in these jobs and Fact Check his statement. Are there other potential conflicts?

Evans’ claim that they all have full time jobs is barely true.

Congressman: These Things Could Hurt SD Tech

U.S. Rep. Scott Peters responded to our public request for issues that might be hazards in the way of more innovation (and the jobs that come with it) in San Diego. He came up with six of them. How many can you think of?

City Politics Roundup: Budget OKed, Snit Central

• The City Council went for most of the mayor’s proposed budget yesterday, but made a few changes. As U-T San Diego reports, it doesn’t want to slice the city attorney’s office and it wants more hours for all libraries. And, in victory for our push for better sidewalks, the budget will include $1 million for a survey of sidewalks. We’ve been lobbying to make the survey a top priority.

But the mayor can still have a say through a veto.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer championed the big five-year labor deal but he blasted the budget. Check out his take, posted in The Plaza. What did you think?

• The ongoing bitter faceoff between the mayor (a Democrat, elected by the people) and the city attorney (a Republican, elected by the people) is certainly entertaining. But does all the bad blood amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world?

Maybe: The U-T wonders if yet another snit might threaten the city’s ability to borrow money.

• The U-T reports that 15 medical marijuana dispensaries are open in the city, all operating illegally. The city’s not enforcing the law, however. The shops are in La Jolla, North Park, Pacific Beach, Point Loma and University Heights, the paper says; none of the owners wanted to talk.

Wanna weigh in? Drop by our comment section. For background, check out our recent story about the confusing state of medical marijuana in San Diego.

• Trying to get a handle on the endless dispute between the mayor and the tax-funded agency that tries to boost tourism here? San Diego Explained, our video series, is on the case: watch its latest episode here.

• Abracadabra! At long last, Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama is mostly free of cars, at least temporarily, although people can still drive through. NBC 7 San Diego was on scene to watch workers make the switch.

As of last night, the Plaza — full of orange cones, cars and pavement — didn’t look very inviting to pedestrians. But it should look prettier soon.

• A City Hall politician appears to be trying to use his power and influence to get what he wants. CityBeat has the shocking story.

Comments: Wonkery, ‘Snotty’ Questions, Curbed Optimism

The Comments of the Week are a wonk’s paradise: readers have thoughts about Enterprise Zone incentives and add the concept of demand curves into the debate over parking,

Also, local p.r. power player Rachel Laing punts VOSD reporter Will Carless for what she sees as “snotty” questions in a Q&A with a retiring school district official: “when we talk about this, we’ll get a lot further if key players in the discussion don’t feel insulted by the questions themselves.”

And a reader thinks it’s a “total waste of time” for one of our sports bloggers to get hot and bothered by the prospect of pro sports success in our city: “There is rarely a reason to think that a local team, after falling behind in the standings, can sweep a series or run the table.”

• In letters, Bob Seegmiller of Hillcrest offers his thoughts, based on his work with the homeless, about efforts to help people get off the street: “The city should be shameless about supporting the nonprofits and the churches that help the homeless, because they do it in a much leaner fashion than the city ever can. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that will fly, since some groups will whine about the city working with religious organizations.”

Quick News Hits

• The Stumblr visits South Park. The neighborhood, that is, not the TV show.

• What will happen to the San Onofre nuke plant now that it’s being shut down? A nuclear expert tells KPBS that the process of decommissioning, as it’s called, could start soon and last about five years, “Or, they could say ‘we’re going to mothball it and we won’t start for half a century.’”

• Former VOSD reporter Adrian Florido, who now works for KPBS, explores the lives of undocumented immigrants who get deported from the U.S. and land in Tijuana: “They’re often dropped off with little money, few belongings and no ties to the city. Once there, many lives quickly slide into desperation.”

• I was waiting to pay for parking in a downtown lot yesterday evening ($15 for more than 2 hours at night? Highway robbery!) when a man walked by while barking into a phone: “Tell her that she’s the assistant city manager!”

Done. Consider her told.

• Local Twitter denizen @twocitygirl noted the other day that the city of Calgary’s mayor has a pizza and a donut named after him. What about hizzoner in San Diego, she wondered? Might there be a beer to name after him?

Rep. Scott Peters had the answer: “Filsner.” Nice!

That got me to thinking about beer names from our own Stone Brewing Company that could represent some of San Diego’s most hopped-up players.

I’ve got a gadfly in mind for Arrogant Bastard Ale and a media personality for Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. As for Ruination Ale, well, you’ll have to fill in that blank yourself.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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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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