Nathan Fletcher, the high-profile mayoral candidate who twice failed to get past a primary, was exhausted after his latest defeat. So he decided to climb one of the tallest mountains in the world.

Fletcher, as he writes in a new personal essay for VOSD, wanted to give up part way to the top when he’s suffering from the elements, fatigue, altitude and pain.

Fletcher writes about what came next and also what came before: A 2012 campaign that exposed the violence and trauma of his childhood: “It was a living hell. I never talked about it because I didn’t want to complain or be seen as a victim, nor did I want to relive it. I had moved on.”

But he was clumsy regarding the language used to refer to his “dad.” The media pounced, and it was all laid bare. “My childhood made me stronger, war couldn’t kill me and the pain of surviving hasn’t either. I had lost an election, but had publicly confronted a major part of my life and privately worked through the experience of combat and survivor’s guilt. I had also been set free from the expectations of political office.”

S.D. on the Cutting Edge

A nationally renowned urban planner named Andres Duany came to town this week to study up on San Diego. Specifically, he was trying to learn more about a hot new urban planning trend called “lean urbanism” — and San Diego just happens to be leading the way.

The term (planners use a lot of weird jargon, remember?) basically refers to small projects that are tailored to existing requirements, so developers don’t have to jump through many hoops to get them done.

Campaign Finance Scandal Deepens

• A new indictment in the campaign finance scandal “says the defendants set up a ‘war room’ in the campaign headquarters of one unnamed candidate — identifiable in court papers as Filner based on other details — ‘for the purposes of making unreported in-kind contributions financed by [a] foreign national,’” the U-T reports.

• KPBS examines the campaign finance scandal surrounding District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and reports “campaign finance experts say there were key warning signs that the funds accepted by the San Diego district attorney when she was running for mayor might not be legal.”

Turns Out Turnout Was Key After All

Local wags, especially me, made a lot of hay out of predictions that turnout would be crucial to the mayoral election last week. Well of course. Duh!

Turns out that turnout — or the lack thereof — was even more key than we thought. Vlad Kogan, our former intern who’s now a political science professor, crunched the numbers and found evidence that almost two-thirds of those who voted for President Obama in 2012 failed to turn out on Feb. 11. But only 23 percent of Romney voters stayed home. The result: The Republican won handily.

• San Diego voters are notoriously difficult to poll accurately. Just ask the pollsters who have botched analyses for the last few elections, including SurveyUSA, which seemed to be on another planet when it came to the Feb. 11 results. In a new VOSD commentary, Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., explains what went wrong and touts why his company, which provides data to pollsters, had a better handle on what was going on.

On Tap (Maybe): Universal Preschool

The new superintendent of San Diego schools is a big fan of preschool, and she wants to expand it as part of her bid to boost the performance of poor and minority students. In a new story, we take a look at her efforts, explore the challenges (and criticisms) and note some of the reasons why current preschool programs aren’t as popular as they could be.

Fatherly ‘Papa Doug’ Falters in Boston

Boston Magazine has an in-depth look at John Henry’s short tenure so far helming the Boston Globe. A gem within that story: some new details about “Papa” Doug Manchester’s negotiating prowess during his failed efforts to buy the newspaper.

We break down the awkward encounter in a new blog post.

Culture Report: Shipping in the Woods

The Culture Report, our weekly look at things artistic and cultural, looks at the fate of an art space called A Ship in the Woods, layoffs at a local art museum, an alleged musician-turned-murderer’s defense and more.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego police officer Chris Hays has been officially charged in his sex misconduct case, the U-T reports.

• A new Old Town center that aims to help struggling veterans opened Monday after some back and forth with the neighbors, NBC San Diego reports.

• It may cost $2.3 billion to rewire the region’s transmission grid following the retirement of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, a sum that would translate into higher energy bills. But some experts tell the U-T that the estimate is overblown.

• A writer for Slate says the gay community should support three gay Republicans in high-profile congressional races, including San Diego’s Carl DeMaio. “None are crazies or novelty candidates,” the writer says, although she also admits: “the gay community may still have many reasons to vote overwhelmingly Democratic.”

• Ron Nehring, the former chair of the county and state Republican Party, has launched a “long-shot” bid for lieutenant governor, the U-T reports.

• How dry we are: A new satellite map (courtesy of the U-T) shows how little moisture has been reaching much of Northern California this year. A climate scientist says: “If you showed me this image without the date, I would say: ‘This is California in early fall after a long, hot summer, before the fall and winter rains and snows arrived. This is no California winter postcard.’”

Psst! Nobody show California a mirror. You know what will happen next: “Does this drought make me look fat?”

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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