City leaders are set to plot the future of Barrio Logan at a meeting next week, and the debate won’t just be of interest to those who live or work there. It will also spotlight differences between two councilmen who want to put the word mayor before their names.

The main topic of debate is the future of maritime businesses in the San Diego neighborhood, which has long been marked by an uncomfortable mix of homes and environmentally unfriendly businesses. Councilmen David Alvarez (a Democrat) and Kevin Faulconer (a Republican) are each taking different paths.

“What we’re trying to do is untangle the gnarliest set of incompatible uses in the whole city,” explains the city’s planning director to VOSD reporter Andrew Keatts.

Saldaña Can’t Say Whether She’ll Run for Mayor

Last week, Lori Saldaña was filing paperwork to fun for mayor, seeking a big endorsement and talking campaign strategy with NBC. This week, she still can’t say for sure whether she’s actually running. She spoke with Lisa Halverstadt Wednesday evening, and didn’t provide much clarity: “I haven’t made up my mind. That’s where I am. It’s a big decision to run for mayor.”

Fletcher’s Evolution on Immigration

Mayoral hopeful Nathan Fletcher is finding fans among Democrats despite his party switching, first from Republican to independent and then to Democrat. He’s seeking Latino supporters in particular, saying he supports comprehensive immigration reform. But, as VOSD reporting reveals, his position has shifted. “In five years, Fletcher transformed from a Republican who said the federal government needed to do a better job ‘stopping illegal immigration’ to a Democratic champion of a landmark bill that would allow more undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.,” Lisa Halverstadt writes.

• Clare Leschin-Hoar, VOSD’s food politics blogger, examines how the immigration debate could affect the safety of our food.

School Bond Reform Progresses, Sort of

The governor is expected to sign legislation that makes it harder for school districts to borrow money for construction and then pay it back, with huge amounts of interest, decades later. (Remember Poway? Following up on another journalist’s work, we exposed its school bond mess.) Our new story examines the bill, including its loopholes.

Just Say ‘Neh’

• VOSD Overheard, our new feature spotlighting the ongoing conversation in our pages and elsewhere, takes notice of the buzz surrounding our stunner of a story about a private meeting of top GOP types. As we reported, the U-T publisher insulted the former mayor, who got mightily miffed, and then told him to hush. Apologies from the publisher ensued.

Readers rap the publisher, defend him and suggest donations to VOSD as a kind of “carbon offset.”

• CityBeat columnist John Lamb heard rumblings about the confab and asked two attendees about it last weekend at an event. “Nope, don’t want to talk about it,” Sanders told him. And Kris Michell, a downtown power player and former Sanders staffer, offered this brush-off: “Neh. Ask Jerry.”

More from the Campaign Trail

• Black church leaders rallied behind candidate Nathan Fletcher Wednesday. (U-T)

• Democratic activist Matt Corrales offers his perspective about the need for a progressive mayor in a new VOSD commentary.

Behind the Jack in the Box Saga

We live in a city of more than 1 million people, but it’s often the little things — like a single Jack in the Box restaurant in North Park — that stir up intense controversy, mutual suspicions and conspiracy theories.

It’s clear that the fast-food chain, at the least, scampered through loopholes in order to renovate its existing restaurant and retain a drive-thru that nearby residents don’t want. What’s not so clear: Did the city screw up? Did Jack in the Box violate the law? Did city leaders (ex-Mayor Bob Filner or Council President Todd Gloria, depending on who’s doing the telling) screw up royally?

CityBeat digs into the saga in an extensive new story, while the Reader examines internal city emails that reveal how officials tried to justify their decision to allow the project.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego may ban plastic bags. (City News Service via KPBS)

• “A landmark law that has been a symbol of California’s tough environmental philosophy for more than 40 years is facing an unlikely challenge from Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, who contend that regulations protecting the environment have been abused and are thwarting legitimate development,” the New York Times reports.

If you’re a policy wonk, you know this law by its initials: CEQA.

• Guess who isn’t big on solar power? Firefighters. The Atlantic Cities blog has details. “The only thing firefighters fear more than fire is solar,” it says. Why? “So long as a solar panel is getting sunlight, it’s impossible to turn off.”

Some firefighters may even change their firefighting strategies when solar panels are involved. It’s not clear what this may mean for plans to make San Diego public buildings more solar-friendly.

• HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” show, about a Prohibition-era bootlegger, is back for a new season. Its return reminds me of a boozy escapade from San Diego’s past. Eighty-four years this summer, an illicit booze ring was born. It would ensnare the mayor, the police chief and (yes) the American Legion.

I wrote about all this back in 2011. You can read it here, along with details about a slyly named “irrigation committee,” shenanigans at the U.S. Grant Hotel and tourism-friendly pandering in the halls of power.

My, how things have changed.

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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