Mickey Kasparian, president of the local United Food and Commercial Workers, is one of the most powerful labor leaders. He played a big role in the region’s big supermarket strikes. He’s also one of the most biting critics of mayoral hopeful Nathan Fletcher, the Republican who turned independent and then Democratic.

But Kasparian wasn’t always such a non-fan of Fletcher. As reporting by VOSD’s Scott Lewis reveals, he was happy to work with him until a new race for mayor sprung up. Now, a new tension has arisen between Kasparian and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who he said disappointed him. Lewis talked to both.

Bay Clean-Up on Hold

The San Diego Bay is supposed to start undergoing a $75 million pollution clean-up effort right about now. But, as we report, it’s been delayed and fingers are being pointed. “We deserve better,” says an environmental advocate.

A Photo Tour of the Grand New Library

Click here to take a tour of the new downtown Central Library by photographer Sam Hodgson.

Another Fine Mess for Minkow

Back in 2009, I profiled Barry Minkow, the famous young Orange County swindler of the 1980s who went to prison and found God before making a new life for himself in San Diego as a scam-buster and a minister. He showed me a clip from an upcoming Hollywood movie about himself and revealed that, as he put it, “you can come back.”

The film, starring a bunch of has-beens and B-listers, was never released because Minkow ended up behind bars again. Now, the NY Post reports, he’s potentially facing even more legal trouble, this time “over allegations that he misused funds and swindled members of the San Diego church where he became head pastor.”

Quick News Hits

• The San Diego Chargers got tragic news yesterday about the death of Paul Oliver, one of their former players, by suicide. In a new post, VOSD sports blogger Beau Lynott speculates about the possible role of concussions in his death and says other deaths of young Charger players are “all a heavy hangover for a local sports community that hasn’t seen much euphoria in recent years.”

• We’ve been following and helping serve a movement in San Diego to really grasp and come to terms with how much of the city’s buildings, streets, pipes and other infrastructure are in need of help and what other facilities we need. Councilman Mark Kersey has been making inroads and he did a good Q&A with the U-T about it all.

• Sempra, the parent company of SDG&E, says SDG&E president “Mike Niggli to retire in Dec, and Jessie Knight will give up his CEO position but remain chairman,” City News Service reports.

• Three San Diego County schools were stripped of their rankings for standardized test cheating by teachers. (NBC 7)

• In a new story, CityBeat suggests that San Diego firefighters don’t have enough available reserve fire engines because “managed competition” — a process that opens the door to outsourcing municipal services — left the city with too few mechanics.

• Phil Baran, an organic chemist with Scripps Research Institute, is one of the recipients of a $625,000 MacArthur Genius grant. He can spend the money however he wants. The U-T has more on the “superchemist who’s “shown how to make drugs that have more potency, and has even produced a line of chemicals that simplify difficult or dangerous chemical reactions.”

• The City Charter, the quasi-constitution that controls how the city is run, has gotten dinged lately and seems ready for a rewrite. Now, the city clerk is on the revision bandwagon, Fox5 reports, and voters may be asked to weigh in.

• Even in San Diego, the fall can bring surprises on the weather front, as it did 50 years ago today when San Diego hit its hottest temperature in recorded history: 111 degrees.

A few years ago, I interviewed a few folks about that day (Sept. 26, 1963) for a brief VOSD history flashback (click and scroll down to see it).

Fights broke out, 30,000 chickens died, and an overwhelmed thermometer reached 134 degrees. And schools called the first heat day since 1934. My teacher dad had to go to work anyway and recalled hiding in a cool storeroom in a Chula Vista elementary school, steaming his heat-exhausted teacher colleagues. (Annoying people seems to be a family trait.) A Qualcomm employee remembered returning to his fifth-grade La Jolla classroom after the heat wave to find his crayons had melted. The same thing happened to the candles at an Old Town shop, as this awesome 1963 newspaper photo reveals.

Turns out 2013 has been quite a year for weather anniversaries. As we told you, San Diego’s coldest day was 100 years ago in January. Sounds like we’re due for another temperature record. Anyone got a storeroom I can hide in? Just remember to let me out.

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

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

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