Who’s in and who’s out? Top local GOP types recently tried to figure out the answer in a private meeting to discuss which Republican should run for mayor. The inside story of the confab, as uncovered by VOSD’s Scott Lewis, reveals a blustering-then-chagrined newspaper publisher, a profanely miffed ex-mayor, two politicians who pledged to do as they’re told, and one who refused to get with the program.

In one stunning moment, the publisher — U-T San Diego’s Doug Manchester — declared his support for ex-Councilman Carl DeMaio, saying, “We need a guy like him. We haven’t had a damn good thing done in this city in the last 10 years.”

Oops. He either forgot or failed to care that the guy in charge for most of that decade, former Mayor Jerry Sanders, was right behind him. Sanders bristled: “Wait a second. That’s bullshit. That’s fucking bullshit.” Manchester told him to stifle but ultimately apologized.

Meanwhile, two potential mayor hopefuls, Councilman Kevin Faulconer (who’s now running) and a long-shot, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, said they’d accept the group’s verdict on who would run. DeMaio declined to play ball but ultimately decided to stick with his congressional bid.

• Well, at least local Democrat leaders never have private meetings to figure out who’s running for mayor, right? Wrong.

Behind the Failed Bid for New Fire Crews

“At a committee hearing in March, San Diego City Council members wondered what had happened to the two-person fire crews designed to help get first responders to emergencies faster. They asked Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Mainar to deliver a report on the crews’ status,” VOSD reporter Liam Dillon reports. “Almost six months later, no report exists. No one agrees why.”

But plenty of fingers are being pointed. Whoever’s at fault, the whole mess is a window into city dysfunction that keeps emergency response below par.

On Social Media, Saldaña’s More Talk than Action

Former legislator Lori Saldaña is mulling a run for mayor on a progressive Democratic platform, and she promises to use “smart technology, new media, social media” to get the message out. But, as VOSD reports, her own social-media efforts are not very impressive.

• Council President Todd Gloria, who’s taken over some mayoral duties while we wait for an election, talks to blogger and open-government guru Jed Sundwall about the importance of social media.

Gloria is “a perfect example of an elected official who uses social media to govern rather than simply using it to get elected,” writes Sundwall, who interviewed Gloria back in June before the city had a spot of bother. “[H]e didn’t understand Twitter when he first encountered it, but he’s since learned that social media can be a powerful tool to serve his constituents, learn from them, and remind them that he’s a real human being who likes [rapper] Rick Ross.”

Gloria also talks about how he was galvanized by VOSD’s coverage of the city’s bizarre policies regarding sidewalk repair.

In Defense of a Schools Shakeup

Earlier this week, Joel Hoffman reported on a massive overhaul of the County Education Office’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools system — some students and educators questioned the removal of many beloved school principals.

But in an op-ed, Stacy Spector, the school system’s executive director, says the shakeup was ultimately in the students’ best interest: “As an organization, we are defining clearly identified outcomes for student learning and stand ready and willing to modify and adjust our plans if they are not working.”

Quick News Hits

• VOSD’s weekly Culture Report previews the next Meeting of the Minds event (it’s next week), checks in on “cronuts,” previews the opening of the brand-new Central Library and checks in on upcoming local productions that intrigue the New York Times.

• How come voters don’t care much about mayoral races? The Atlantic Cities blog offers some answers.

• A couple Fresh & Easy grocery stores in East County will soon be dead and gone, the U-T reports, as the British-owned company gets bought up by an American billionaire. Stores in El Cajon and Santee will be shut down.

• The answer to yesterday’s trivia question: The “City of Fountains” is, of all places, Kansas City, Mo.

• The San Francisco Chronicle is out with an extensive profile of winemaking in the backcountry here. “Planting a vineyard in San Diego, then, is very much an act of faith. It is also a bold defiance of the region’s uneven history with wine, one beset by grand hopes and false starts,” the story says. “What it has needed, beyond the work of a handful of diligent labels like Orfila, is a thirst for experimentation and a handful of true believers willing to ask tough questions about the area’s identity.”

Interesting. Now if you’d like to hear about local whine production, let me recommend a lovely bouquet that’s sure to tickle your senses.

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 randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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