Mayor Bob Filner wants a new city architect to guide the quality of private and public buildings. He wants a new deputy in charge of all the city’s building and permitting functions.

And a significant turnover in top staff has begun.

Here’s what we know so far.

Public Records Act Assault

This is terrible news for advocates of open government are getting nervous about a bill being thrown into the states budget package that would have major consequences for the public records act. It would eliminate the requirement that an agency give a requester notice after 10 days acknowledging a request and send a note about whether or why a request is being rejected.

U-T San Diego’s Christopher Cadelago has more. On Twitter, the conversation exploded with local Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez trying to calm concerned journalists. Gonzalez said it was not a watering down of the law. Cadelago flatly disagreed.

Donna Frye called the office Friday night and disagreed as well. She’s president of the Californians Aware board.

“This is absolutely a watering down of the public records law. [Agencies] don’t have to provide any response at all or legal statement why they’re not providing the records,” she said.

Stay tuned on this one.

Another Mayor vs. Hotels Spat

Under the peculiar arrangement that the city struck over a tax on hotel guests, the city won’t cough up money for tourism marketing unless it comes from hotels that specifically agree to indemnify the city in pending lawsuits.

How’s that going? Not too well, KPBS reports: only 10 percent are playing ball so far, although some many be waiting to get an OK from corporate. We reported earlier this could be a big problem.

Let us know what you think in The Plaza.

Mayor Filner, who’s been fighting over the funds, is in crowing mode: Industry types “can’t convince their own hotel owners that this is important. I think that speaks for itself.”

‘Edge 2015’ Falls Off Cliff

The folks behind the centennial celebration planned for Balboa Park have dumped the “Edge 2015” theme — whew! — and are planning to focus the celebration on “San Diego’s innovative contributions, cultural heritage, outdoor lifestyle and entertainment,” City News Service reports.

Goodie Train Derails for Cafeteria Workers

“Cafeteria workers at the San Diego Unified School District will no longer receive gift cards, chocolates and movie passes using money from a program to feed needy children,” the U-T reports.

The problem wasn’t that the funds were used to give goodies to employees. It’s that these specific kinds of goodies were the wrong kinds. The U-T quotes a spokeswoman as saying the funds could still be used for “retirement gifts and certificates of appreciation.”

The district is already in hot water over cafeteria expenses. Last week, the U-T reported that it was ordered to pay back $13.4 million in state funds on inappropriate expenses like custodians and utility bills. The district denies wrongdoing and is trying to get out of paying the money, which would be a significant chunk of its budget.

Comments of the Week

VOSD’s Comments of the Week highlight opinions about principals, planning, innovation and the value of public art.

What We Learned This Week

• The mayor has a new think tank but details are scarce.

• The city got a good deal on office space. A local coalition of governments? Well, not so much, although there will be some actual free parking (!) in downtown.

• What evil lurks in the hearts of San Diego’s dark places? Our contributing photojournalist knows.

• San Diego sidewalks will finally get a professional look-see. But will they get fixed? Stay tuned.

Also: we’re holding an art contest to promote sidewalk awareness.

Quick News Hits

• The VOSD Sports Report compiles the week’s news on the field, led by the departure of the controversial Chargers team doctor, the recent subject of a Deadspin headline that read “The Chargers’ Doctor Is A Drunk Quack. Why Haven’t They Fired Him?

• The legislature passed the state budget, which goes on to the governor, and has turned its attention to a bunch of side bills, the LA Times reports.

• The San Ysidro school superintendent facing corruption charges got a going-away present courtesy of taxpayers: a year’s worth of salary, the U-T reports. That’s $180,000 plus health benefits and reimbursement for unused vacation days.

The district and the ex-chief agreed to not bash each other. But the school board president did tell the U-T this: “We have no other option to terminate this relationship that is either less expensive or more expedient… this is one of those times we can’t afford to be righteous. We have to be right.”

• The Southwestern College Sun, the well-respected student newspaper at the Chula Vista community college, is struggling to survive just like mainstream newspapers. The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank, profiles how it’s turning to fundraising to try to publish 5 issues a year instead of the previous 14.

• The U-T checks in on UC San Diego’s chancellor and his work to make the university a big part of the president’s brain research project.

• Ben & Jerry’s are polling residents of Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle to determine their favorite ingredients for new city-centric ice cream flavors, Atlantic Cities reports.

Sounds delicious. This brings up the obvious question: What would San Diego’s ice cream flavor be? Maybe something that’s light, airy, slightly artificial and not too sweet?

No, wait, that’s my personal ice cream flavor.

What should San Diego’s flavor be? Give us suggestions in The Plaza and maybe we’ll find a way to whip some up at Politifest.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized Donna Frye’s position at Californians Aware. She is the group’s president.

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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