This week’s State of the District speech by San Diego’s new schools superintendent turned out to be full of hopeful images and enough metaphors to thrill any high school English literature teacher.

We compiled a guide to its “fluffiest moments,” including a choir performance of a famous John Lennon song, a rainbow photo and the appearance of ruby-red heels (not slippers) on the feet of the superintendent herself (Toto could not be reached for comment).

But the speech had its meaty parts too, Joel Hoffmann writes. Marten revealed four “specific actions” the district will take to foster quality leadership. In other areas, though, like what defines a quality teacher and what training teachers will receive, Marten wasn’t so detailed. But, as Marten pointed out, Martin Luther King didn’t really lay out a blueprint for how to achieve his dream, either.

The Day in the Mayor’s Race

• Candidate Nathan Fletcher, the former assemblyman, has released his plan to boost the city’s neighborhoods, the U-T reports.

• Fletcher has been saying that he’s the first in his family to go to college, but the U-T reports that his paternal grandfather graduated from UC Berkeley and his parents both attended college for a time. Fletcher says he’ll stop making the claim and offered an explanation: He said he was talking about the stepfather who raised him, not his biological father;he didn’t know his mother went to college for a semester and he knows little about his paternal grandfather.

It’s not clear if Fletcher read a lengthy profile in the Reader last year that exhaustively tracked his family’s history and included multiple details about the grandfather, who was “a fabled Nevada political functionary” and worked as the city manager of Las Vegas among other top municipal jobs.

• I asked the local news outfit inewsource for details about the local precincts that are sending in the most and least absentee ballots in the mayoral special election. The answer, as they report: People in Rancho Bernardo are sending in lots of ballots by mail, but those around UCSD are lagging. Also, the county voting czar says he’s impressed by the number of mail-in ballots returned so far: about 14 percent of those sent out.

The election is Nov. 19.

• KPBS is out with a profile of candidate Michael Aguirre, the former city attorney. It notes that “his combative approach managed to alienate nearly everyone by the end of his four year term. Democrats, Republicans, business owners and unions all found reasons to oppose him politically. He blamed the city’s major newspaper for coming after him and creating a negative atmosphere.”

• In a VOSD commentary, local Assemblywoman Toni Atkins explains why she supports Councilman David Alvarez for mayor.

The Haunted History Behind S.D.’s Sunny Image

In honor of Halloween, I’ve conjured a spooky story about San Diego’s haunted (and haunting) history. Turns out there’s actual truth, some of it tragic, behind the legends of the Hotel Del Coronado’s “Beautiful Stranger” ghost and the spirits that haunt the Whaley House.

I also check out the legend of the Proctor Valley Monster that’s scared South Bay kids silly for at least five decades and the tale that a San Diego park and playground are built over hundreds of dead bodies (it’s true). Also, a local “weird news” journalist offers his take on a surprisingly extensive history of horror films shot here.

Quick News Hits

• Kelly Abbott, chief executive of the San Diego-based company Realtidbits, ponders San Diego’s high housing prices in a new commentary that includes comments from VOSD readers and his perspective on why transplants come here but leave. “I … wonder whether the problem with San Diego is that we have a bad product for families,” he writes.

• When he was mayor, Bob Filner stopped a development called Centrepoint in College Area neighborhood. The developer of the project sued the city, saying the process was illegal. The city attorney negotiated a settlement that won the city $150,000 from the developer but let the project resume.

Later, the city attorney’s office said the mayor’s actions were illegal but commended itself for negotiating a good settlement for the city. Now neighboring residents are suing over the same project, alleging the city illegally approved the project. The city attorney will now once again have to defend the city’s development department against those residents.

The Reader reports on internal city emails showing development services wavered over whether the project met the city’s zoning requirements before it ultimately approved the project.

• North County’s provider of bus and light-rail service and KPBS/inewsource are going at it big-time over the news outlet’s eyebrow-raising story about alleged gender discrimination at the agency. Read the story that started it all here for background on an unusual point-counterpoint just posted by the news outlet.

• A self-described “transhumanist” made big news this week by receiving “what appears to be the first traffic violation for driving while wearing Google Glass,” KPBS reports. Where do transhumanists hang out? No, not Ocean Beach: She got the ticket on I-15 in San Diego, the U-T reports, and says she was just wearing it, not using it.

• The Coaster isn’t going to go booze-free. (U-T)

• Oarfish, the giant and mysterious sea creatures that washed up recently in Oceanside and Catalina, are anything but pretty. To add injury to insult, scientists are finding that they have to deal with other indignities besides ugliness.

An examination of the Catalina oarfish turned up parasites that suggest the species is vulnerable to hungry sharks, the Los Angeles Times reports.

There’s more. “It glows slightly, and a ribbon-like dorsal fin waves along the length of its body as it hangs in the water, sucking down plankton and jellyfish,” the paper says. And “despite its menacing appearance, the serpentine, silver fish is toothless and heavy, with weak, flabby muscles.”

That reminds me: It’s time to restart my gym membership.

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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