The Mexican national at the center of the big campaign finance scandal unfolding in San Diego lunched with Bob Filner at the height of the mayoral campaign, not long before Jose Susumo Azano Matsura allegedly dumped $340,000 in illegal money into the campaign, a source told Voice of San Diego.

Two other big figures charged in the scandal, lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes and former San Diego Police Department detective Ernesto Encinas, were also there. Filner’s campaign calendar backs up that the meeting happened. The source told us that Filner and Azano didn’t talk about fundraising at the meeting, where Azano brought in a fancy Nobu sushi chef.

• If you haven’t had time to soak in all the other details of the scandal — aka Another Fine Mess — we’re at your service with a handy guide to what we know so far.

In other scandal developments yesterday:

• The retired San Diego cop implicated in the case faced a judge in federal court and was allowed to remain free. He apparently didn’t need to pay bail.

One big mystery: Why did this ex-detective allegedly want San Diego’s police chief out? “Multiple sources say it appears Encinas wanted a new police chief who would be more friendly to issues surrounding alcohol licenses and entertainment venues, thus boosting his own security consulting business,” the U-T reports.

• CityBeat digs into what we know about two of the men at the center of the allegations and finds that they met with a staffer for Councilwoman Marti Emerald to discuss how the police department handles vice regarding entertainment permits — an apparent reference to rules regarding strip clubs.

• Press releases about the federal case (yes, someone is making a federal case out of all this) say they’re from “Acting U.S. Attorney Cindy Cipriani”? Wait, what? Did something happen to local U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, who’s perhaps best known for tangling with San Diego’s medical marijuana industry? Nope: Duffy is still in command, but she’s stepped away from this case due to an unspecified conflict of interest.

Alvarez’s Union Claim

The two candidates for mayor have been busy exchanging barbs about who’s bought off. David Alvarez is supposedly a union stooge in the eyes of his rival, but he recently tried to turn around that claim by casting aspersions at Kevin Faulconer: “The biggest union that takes the most benefits is endorsing (Faulconer) and now he’s claiming that I have all of the support. That’s just nonsense. It’s not true.”

His claim is misleading, San Diego Fact Check finds. Yes, the police officers union has endorsed Faulconer, but it’s not the biggest municipal union in the city.

Behind Those Weird Mayoral Polls

It’s a fool’s game to assume that members of an ethnic group will support a candidate just because he or she shares the same skin color. Still, eyebrows raised when recent polls in the mayor’s race suggested that Alvarez hasn’t sewed up the Latino vote and — according to a U-T poll — may even be close to losing them to Faulconer (!).

But a new poll of Latinos only finds Alvarez way ahead among likely voters, leading Faulconer by 75 percent to 10 percent.

So what might have gone wrong with the other polls? For one thing, they didn’t use Spanish-speakers. Oops. “In San Diego, Latinos account for 20 percent of all registered voters, and poor estimates of the Latino vote can significantly alter the overall polling estimates,” the Latino Decisions blog says.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego Explained, our video series in conjunction with NBC San Diego, examines the city’s new attempt to finally figure out how bad its sidewalks have become. Too late for those of us who have tripped and fallen, but better late than never. Watch the video for details about the city’s odd sidewalk policy.

• We’re the 13th most expensive city in America, according to yet another ranking. Yawn. But there are some surprises in the top 12: Sacramento (!), Oklahoma City (!!) and Buffalo (oh man, I may have to tap VOSD’s strategic reserve of exclamation points).

• I flew out of town yesterday to attend a film festival in San Francisco (No. 2 on the most-expensive list), but not before buying a bottle of water at Lindbergh Field for $4.31. Alas, the promised reasonable-ish prices at the renovated Terminal 2 apparently haven’t materialized at Terminal 1.

As a public service, I didn’t yell “highway robbery!” and stomp out in disgust, although I may have sighed discreetly. Please make a note of this when you nominate me for Citizen of the Year.

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

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

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