Kelly Bennett reports that the effects of the Film Commission’s demise, merely days old, are already being felt. One filmmaker, working on two movies in San Diego, says the closure left his crew in a panic. “The Film Commission fell off of the planet last week and that’s left everything kind of like, ‘How do we get things done’ and ‘Who do we talk to?’” he said.

The film commission part of the Tourism Authority, which has had its own problems of late, and whose CEO said they were “working on a more holistic plan on how to deal with this.”

But Cathy Anderson, the Film Commission’s CEO, wrote in urging that the commission be revived. The Film Commission “attracted up to $100 million in direct production company spending each year to the San Diego region,” she wrote. “Feature films like ‘Traffic,’ ‘Anchorman,’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’ did not fall in our laps.”

This Reader film critic disagrees. He says little was lost with the commission’s demise.

The city used to fund the Film Commission. But taking over that responsibility was part of the promised benefit of the Tourism Marketing District, which started in 2008 with a 2 percent surcharge on hotel room bills at big hotels for five years. The agreement to extend that surcharge for nearly 40 more years on all hotels was held up earlier this year by the mayor, who persuaded the district to agree to protect the city if the surcharge is declared an illegal tax.

But large hotel owners refused to sign the paperwork so the money from the fee is not being released, hence the cuts to the Tourism Authority and the Commission.

De Ja Vu On Training Promises

Three years ago, the San Diego County Grand Jury issued a report urging the San Diego Unified School District to “inform and train” its principals and administrators on how to manage budgets. The district said the recommendations would be implemented by the end of 2010.

Will Carless reported that a spate of troubling audits in the district has once again brought the issue fore, and has caught district officials flat-footed on their promise to train staff on proper budget management. “Once again, the district dropped the ball. We didn’t follow up. We gave lip service and said we needed to do training, but nothing’s happened,” said city schools trustee Scott Barnett.

Carless wrote that the district created some materials for training administrators, but that training was never made mandatory. “That’s what the district is now promising it will do — for real this time,” wrote Carless.

The Other Filner Mess

First, Sunroad made a mistake and needed the city to give up some building rights on a new park next to Sunroad’s new apartment complex in Kearny Mesa. Then, $100,000 quietly came to the city. The FBI started asking questions. Now, our Liam Dillon reports, Mayor Filner has hired a well-known defense attorney in connection with a federal probe into the deal.

Dillon also noted yesterday that the city attorney’s office wants a shot at deposing Filner’s Chief of Staff, Lee Burdick, over her involvement in the percolating Sunroad scandal. You can check out the subpoena.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

• Another accuser stepped forward yesterday on the radio station KOGO and described an incident when Filner asked her out on a date, put her in a “choke hold” in front of two city staffers and claimed that he would be “mentoring her.”

• Signature gathering for a petition to recall Mayor Filner will begin on August 18, and at least one election attorney calls the effort to gather the required 101,000 signatures within a 39-day window “virtually impossible.”

• A rally is set to take place on Aug. 19 to protest Filner’s return to City Hall from a treatment facility.

Busby Pulls Back

It wasn’t that long ago when we told you about the conflicting roles that Francine Busby plays as the head of the local Democratic Party and as director of the political nonprofit Run Women Run. But Sara Libby reported that, as of July 31, Busby has stepped back from her role at Run Women Run. “I put two years into it, and it was the right time for me, I just can’t do both things,” she said.

Busby's Uphill Battle

Closer to Laura’s Law

Laura’s Law is a controversial state law that permits counties to decide whether they want to let judges compel people into mental health treatment. Only two counties are using the law, and San Diego isn’t one of them.

Citybeat reported on how a July 30 vote from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors expands existing programs to incrementally approach some kind of implementation of Laura’s Law in San Diego. “What we specifically did was begin to change the dialog and really focus on why mental health services are so important,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts.

News Nibbles

• Scott Lewis’ commentary on the mayor’s narrowing options got commenters stirred into a literary lather.

• Citybeat profiled a San Diego comic artist who continues to press on with his art despite battling terminal brain cancer.

• The UT has a video tour of the newly expanded Terminal 2 at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field airport.

• The mayor of Santee is cracking down on the homeless, going as far as regularly evicting people from the sides of the San Diego River.

• Many employees of the news organization Patch will find out if they get to keep their jobs. Many likely won’t.

• Mark Cafferty, CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, wrote some kind words about CONNECT CEO Duane Roth, who recently died in a bicycle accident.

Where Are They Now?

Some serious talent has come through Voice of San Diego over the years. One such man is Andrew Donohue, who served as our daily editor for many years. Now he’s moved on to really big things with the Center for Investigative Reporting, and he recently talked to the journalism website Poynter about how VOSD produces the goods. The article expands on the idea of using design concepts in journalism for more effective reporting.

“Instead of starting with a story idea, you start with a question and work with a community, be it virtual or real, through live events or interviews,” Donohue told Poynter. “Our stories were based a lot more in real people’s needs.”

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

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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