If the holiday season helped you forget we’re in the middle of a hotly contested mayoral race, you’re not alone. But the vacation is definitely over and Lisa Halverstadt highlighted four of most important issues San Diego’s next mayor will have to deal with. Among them is the city’s infrastructure backlog. “The city has a massive backlog of street, sidewalk and storm drain repairs,” Halverstadt wrote. “It’ll be the next mayor’s job to figure out how to pay for those upgrades.”

In related news, another water main broke on New Year’s Eve in Mission Valley.

Still Cheaper Than Gold

Halverstadt also noted that 2014 has already ushered in water rate increases. She asked for a couple of Voice of San Diego readers to send in their bills and, in a post filled with visuals, she explains what everything on the bills mean and how much more San Diegans are paying.  “In November, The City Council approved water rate hikes that separate San Diegans into four tiers,” she reported.

Many homeowners will fall into the first, and least expensive tier. As water usage increases, the water bills reflect a higher tier-level and higher water rates. Another water rate hike is coming in 2015.

Behind the Good News

There’s a lot to be learned from San Diego County’s annual report, Joel Hoffman reported, including the work the county is doing to protect county residents from wildfire and its work to expand access to food assistance. But Hoffman dug into the numbers to find the untold stories behind the statistics, which aren’t always as rosy. Domestic violence victims, for example, are getting short-changed due to the county’s inability to collect fines.

Let’s Get Risky In 2014

The new year got Scott Lewis thinking about his yesteryears when he worked as bartender, and how that experience has inspired him to take more risks in 2014. “I resolve to resist the urge to let it all plateau – to cruise,” wrote Lewis. “I want to keep building, keep dreaming and keep dancing with failure.”

New Year, More Culture

“San Diego suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. Are we a border city? Are we a beachy tourist trap? Are we a whale’s vagina?” Our most recent edition of the Culture Report wrestles with this and other questions, and keeps you in the loop on the most interesting culture and art happenings around town.

Second Opinion: What We Learned

For the last six months, reporter Megan Burks tried to help readers understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act on San Diegans via her Second Opinion series. As that series ends, Burks shared her takeaways from digging into insurance jargon and speaking with people about their most private financial and personal health situations.

This Port Is B-A-N-A-N-A-S

The port of San Diego brings a lot of ships in, and the ships carry a variety of cargo. But three items specifically stand out because of their sheer volume, reported Joel Hoffman, and he broke down what’s in the haul coming in off the ocean. “A huge portion of the port’s commerce is bananas,” Hoffman noted. “Dole brings 40-foot, refrigerated containers in on a boat and plugs them in to keep the produce from spoiling.” The port has also found niches bringing in automobiles and fertilizer, Hoffman found.

Parting Shots

One of the most ridiculous political attacks we witnessed in 2013 was leveled at city council District 4 candidate Dwayne Crenshaw, which we dubbed the Whack Crack Attack. The attack came via a mailer from Councilwoman Myrtle Cole’s campaign which tried to link Crenshaw with illegal activities outside a crack house more than 20 years ago. “This is politics,” said Cole’s campaign consultant at the time.

And this is a lawsuit. Crenshaw named Cole in the suit filed yesterday, in which Crenshaw claims he has suffered “humiliation, emotional distress, loss of reputation, and mental and physical pain and anguish,” reported UT San Diego.

News Nibbles

• California’s supreme court agreed with California lawmakers over whether undocumented immigrants can be granted a license to practice law here.

• Politico thinks the race between Scott Peters and Carl DeMaio to represent California’s 52nd district is one of the most important ones to watch. They say DeMaio is “running as a moderate,” and is a “perfect fit” for the “middle-of-the-road district.”

• A new vaccine law took effect on January 1 which reinforced the requirement for California students to get vaccinated. An exemption for those with religious concerns still exists, though.

• A whole bunch of other far-reaching laws took effect at the same time.

• Due process rolls ever onward as Bob Filner started serving out his sentence of house arrest on January 1.

• Swine flu is making a sudden comeback, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

• California’s dream of becoming “Drone Valley” will have to wait; the FAA said they’ll test their drone-flying programs in other states instead.

• City officials are hoping that getting people up close and personal with the animals at La Jolla Cove will help solve the poop stench problem.

Maybe Try Stamps or Baseball Cards

An unnamed San Diego resident helped Indianapolis police capture a man who was stealing human tissue from a medical history museum, reported Fox Atlanta. Authorities arrested a 21 year old man on December 16 after receiving a tip from a San Diegan who was suspicious of the origin of the human brains he had purchased on eBay. He paid about $600 for six jars of brain tissue, not including the $70 charge to ship the brains.

Why is a San Diego man bidding for brains on eBay? “He just said he liked to collect odd things,” said the museum’s executive director.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. He you can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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