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The debate’s been going on nationally for more than a decade: Is Walmart a force for good that helps the working poor spend less to live? Or is it a bad company that treats its workers poorly? Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

Whatever the case, the fight has tangled up San Diego politicians for years, including Councilman David Alvarez, who’s running for mayor. VOSD’s Scott Lewis examines Alvarez’s position and finds that “Alvarez has not been clear on Walmarts in his district. He has certainly not been clearly against them.”

• For more background about the issue of Walmart and similar “big-box” stores, check our recent Q-and-A with mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, who dealt with the issue while serving as a legislator.

• In other City Hall news, the city’s interim chief operating officer, Walt Ekard, will step down later this month. He’ll be replaced by Assistant Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick, the U-T reports.

District Sells Land Charter Schools Want

The San Diego school district is busy selling land it considers to be “excess,” while charter schools are desperate for space. What gives?

• The governor has signed a bill that will crack down on school districts’ ability to borrow money for school construction and renovation and then force property owners to pay it back decades from now with loads of added interest.

Journalists from VOSD and elsewhere helped bring the loans to light last year.

• “Whether you agree with his politics or not, San Diego Unified School District trustee Scott Barnett has a knack for coining phrases.” How creative is he? We compiled a few of his latest humdingers in a debate over selling district property.

Questions and Answers with Open Data Guru

The city’s commitment to open government is a hot topic now that Mayor Bob Filner is out of office and no longer preventing the community from getting its hands on open records. We have a new Q-and-A with Eric Busboom, founder of the San Diego Regional Data Library.

A Weed Shop Haven by the Border?

New proposed rules about where medical marijuana shops could operate might put the city in quite a pickle.

CityBeat reports on a study that says some areas of the city — such as those that are dense and filled with schools like the Mid-City area — wouldn’t be allowed to have any dispensaries. But the southern stretch of the city by the border could end up with as many as 34.

The Day in the Government Shutdown

• The San Diego region ranks seventh nationwide (and first in California) in the percentage of employees who are on the federal government or military payroll, according to a Washington Post map of the hotspots most likely to be affected by the federal government’s partial shutdown.

• Construction continues on the expansion of the San Ysidro border crossing despite the shutdown, the Daily Transcript reports.

Quick News Hits

• There’s talk of changing the state initiative process — the one that puts certain ballot measures on the ballot — in a way that will favor labor unions, the Washington Post reports.

• The Coastal Commission is expected to weigh in next week on major construction at the home of Mitt and Ann Romney in La Jolla. A former neighbor  “contends that the Romneys are erroneously claiming ownership of the beach in front of their property to inflate their lot size, thus increasing the size of the home they are allowed to rebuild on it,” the La Jolla Light reports.

• Was it a seal that seemingly harassed a beachgoer, as the San Diego Reader reported? A Morning Report reader says it was actually a sea lion, not a seal: Seals, she says, aren’t agile on land. The creature in the Reader story supposedly chased a woman away from her spot at the La Jolla Cove beach.

I’m not agile on land either. Maybe I’m a sea lion? (Paging San Diego Fact Check!)

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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