When New York City Mayor Ed Koch famously greeted people on the street with his “How’m I Doin’?” slogan, he ushered in a new era of friendlier, more approachable city leadership. Fast-forward thirty years and the stakes have been raised significantly: Mayor Bob Filner doesn’t just ask for feedback, he invites his constituents over for a good hearty Saturday morning chat —even when that means a serious policy discussion about UFOs. Some of it has had concrete impacts on city policy.

Some of it was just goofy.

We did a public records request to peek at Filner’s Saturday “Meet the Mayor” guestbook and compiled our top five favorite visitors.

Meet the Newbies: Power Players in San Diego for 2013

A complete sea change has taken place in the city’s leadership across a wide range of industries and we’ve compiled a list of some of the city’s most important new faces. From the cop-turned-councilwoman with questionable campaign tactics to the labor-activist-turned-assemblywoman who wants to crack the growing jobs problem in California, Lisa Halverstadt gives you the low-down in her report on San Diego’s powerful newbies.

Biofuel Boom and Bust

San Diego is the place for those hoping use algae to create crude oil  but many of the companies this sector has fostered are walking through the Valley of Death — that precarious time between when they raised money to try out their idea and when they will start bringing in revenue. Solar companies aren’t guaranteed to get through that walk either. Reporter Kelly Bennett pops the hood on our sun-soaked alternative fuel ‘mecca’ and dissects the boom-and-bust cycle that has become a major challenge for these ambitious young companies.

File photo by Sam Hodgson
File photo by Sam Hodgson

Padres in Paris? Not So Much.

Our sports contributor John Gennaro just returned from 10 days strolling along the Seine and scarfing baguettes under the Eiffel Tower with down-and-out street performers. Actually, it appears that he spent most of the trip scrambling for a wifi connection to stream Padres games while all the other tourists were stumbling home from all-night wine benders at the local cafe. A true fan.

Check out Gennaro’s fun recounting of how hard it was to be an obsessive Padres fan in Paris.

Two More Days to Submit Idea Tournament Proposal

Community groups have until this Sunday to submit a proposal for the Idea Tournament happening at this year’s Politifest on Saturday, August 3. The winning proposal will be awarded a $5,000 grant from the Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement to put toward their project.

You can find out more details and submit a proposal here.

So far, we’ve received submissions from the City Heights Town Council, City Heights Seniors, Lakeside River Park Conservancy, North Park Branch Library, Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek and San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

If you think you’ve submitted a proposal and you don’t see your project listed here, please email your proposal to Politifest@gmail.com.

You’ll soon have the opportunity to vote for the top finalists when we open secure electronic voting provided by our partners at Everyone Counts from July 5 through July 19. Stay tuned for details.

Real Talk On San Diego Beer

Stone Brewing Co. CEO Greg Koch announced at our Crafting Beer Policy event last night that a great beer summit had been scheduled for Sept. 19. It will be invitation only but he seemed to think it would be a potentially big moment for a burgeoning industry.

We packed the house at Modern Times Beer in Point Loma. The event, moderated by Voice of San Diego land use reporter Andrew Keatts, took a look at five different pieces of San Diego’s craft beer infrastructure, and discussed different ways that city policy affects the industry’s success.

Modern Times Beer owner Jacob McKean walked us through the process of opening a brewery, local land use attorney Omar Passons discussed craft beer’s ability to foster urban renewal, White Labs’ Neva Parker broke down the complexity of different yeast strains, Tatiana Peavey from TapHunter spoke about social media’s influence on craft beer communities, and Koch challenged the city to embrace beer as part of its international identity.

Scutari and Cieslak Public Relations was the night’s sponsor. You can read tweets and see pics from the event.

That Chalk Case Combusts

The story of a local defendant facing jail time for using chalk to write protest messages on the sidewalk, and once in a parking lot, outside of Bank of America continues to make its way around the country. The Reader reports that a judge has issued a gag order in the case. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her feelings in response to the case. And the tale has now made The New York Times, via Reuters. One local writer is growing mighty unsympathetic to the defendant (warning: adult language).

Quick Hits Outside VOSD

• Some San Diego lawyer sleuths dug up some pretty interesting documents about credit rating agencies that helped inform this recent Rolling Stone feature on their role in the  2008 financial crisis.

• Mayor Filner’s car-free dream has come true. At least, temporarily. An overhead photo shot from a police helicopter, in U-T San Diego, reveals Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama —which is without cars, parking spaces, traffic cones, and signs. The 1.5 acre, temporarily-pedestrian-only square was ordered into existence last month by Filner – whose plan was met with much less resistance than his predecessors’.

• San Diego is the most tolerant city in the country, Atlantic Cities reports. Citing the new Tolerance Index, which was updated for The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited. The index ranks America’s metropolitan areas based on acceptance of new ideas, factoring in the share of immigrants or foreign-born residents, the concentration of gays and lesbians, and the level of segregation between ethnic and racial groups.

• The U-T reports that Mayor Filner has issued a special-event permit for the annual Over-The-Line tournament on Fiesta Island that is expected to host more than 50,000 competitors. The tournament caused quite a stir recently when the city was sued by FreePB.org —a local non-profit— arguing that the event did not go through proper environmental review. Meanwhile, the rest of America still has no idea how much fun it is to reduce baseball to its core values: line-drives fueled by beer and bikinis.

Update: In editing the Morning Report, we added the link to Kelly Davis’ tweet responding to an insulting tweet from Jeff Olson, the defendant facing jail time for chalk protests. The original tweet from Olson did not show up, as he deleted it. It had accused Davis of being jealous of other reporters for getting the scoop on the case. That’s what she was responding to.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @CCWeatherby.

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Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at colin.weatherby@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @CCWeatherby.

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