The city is revamping the way it handles the way it deals with planning issues, so we thought it would be a good time to check back in with planning chief Bill Fulton. He’s gotten a lot of attention thanks to his high-profile background, and he stuck around through the summer of discontent at City Hall. So now what?

In a Q-and-A, Fulton tells us that the city will be able to approve new blueprints for neighborhoods more quickly and do a better job of boosting the local economy. But he’s not big on the idea of bringing back a city architect position.

• The city is also changing “the grading system planners use to prioritize projects like parks, fire stations and libraries,” we report in a new story. “It adds weight to projects in under-served communities by detailing what graders should look for when judging a project’s impact on community and economic development.”

• In other City Hall news, it looks like the city’s ambulance contract will remain in private hands.

My Nightmare: 13 Years, 7 Health Insurers

When it comes to health insurance, chances are you get it through your full-time job, your spouse or domestic partner’s benefits or Medicare or Medicaid.

If so, lucky you. Not-so-lucky me. I’m a single (thanks for nothing, and self-employed writer, so I have to get my insurance on the individual market. But insurers aren’t busting down my door to insure me thanks to one of those dreaded pre-existing conditions. As a result, I’ve gone through seven insurers in 13 years and will soon be on my eighth.

In a new story published in partnership with Kaiser Health News, I spill details my voyage through uncertainty, fraud and exorbitant premiums. And I look at sudden surge of insurance options thanks to Obamacare.

The Day in the Mayoral Campaign

• We’ve posted a Readers Guide to the mayor’s race to help you get up to date before you vote. And we take note of the most intriguing ideas from the candidates on various issues.

• Yehudi Gaffen, chief executive of construction consulting firm Gafcon, announces in a commentary that he’s pulled his support from the GOP-friendly Lincoln Club because of its “very distasteful and misleading attack ads” targeting mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher.

• Who’s sent their ballots in already? You have, Point Loma! And La Jolla, too. Check your own neighborhood in this inewsource map.

• Our commenters are still buzzing about the annoying debate over whether it matters if the mayoral candidates are willing to provide their college transcripts. Get a load of their perspectives here.

And keep in mind that candidate Kevin Faulconer failed a test of his own transparency earlier in the campaign.

Memory, Murder and the Heartache Within

If asked, many people who have lived here for a while could reel off the names of local children whose lives were stolen by murderers over the past several decades. News coverage and the community’s response turned many of them into household names: Danielle Van Dam, Leticia Hernandez, John Mayeski and Michael Baker, Amanda Gaeke, Laura Arroyo, Charlie Keever and Jonathan Sellers, and several others.

In a new column, the U-T’s Logan Jenkins listens to the parents of Stephanie Crowe, whose story is one of tragedy, incompetence and injustice that seems like it will never end. They remain together (they’ve found some peace amid the rain in Salem, Ore.) and are once again reliving the horrors of a 1998 morning in Escondido.

• A controversy has broken out at San Diego City College, the community college in downtown, over a mural designed to honor a student who was murdered on campus. The college is holding up the unveiling of the mural, which will be shown elsewhere.

VOSD’s weekly Culture Report recaps the dispute and includes links to stories about a comic artist’s unfolding tattoo art, a mayoral candidate’s Louvre-like dreams, and even more food truck drama.

Quick News Hits

• There’s news in the South Bay corruption scandal: “A California bond underwriter charged with plying school officials in San Diego County with meals and sports tickets worth thousands of dollars to steer business to his employers pleaded guilty to conspiracy,” Bloomberg News reports.

• A local judge is taking heat for presiding over the marriage of a convicted killer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

• The San Diego State baseball team got into the Halloween spirit, Deadspin reports.

• The flap about the college transcripts of politicians inspired me to go on Twitter and call on all locally raised candidates to provide their fourth-grade dioramas of California missions. (I like to provide this kind of sterling public service, as you know.)

A few Twitter denizens reminisced about their own student projects from elementary school in response, but no candidates took me up on my demand.

Fine. But they’d better start paying attention when I ask for their kindergarten grades in finger-painting.

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 is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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