Consider the district attorney. No, not the completely inept kind like the forever-losing prosecutor Hamilton Burger in “Perry Mason.” Try thinking about the savvier (at least in theory) DAs that we have in California.

What do these folks do all day besides gather endorsements, speak to community groups and run for office? It’s a good time to understand this since our current district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, is facing stiff opposition for once in her bid to keep her job.

In a new explainer, we dive into what may be the most powerful job in the criminal justice system. Our story examines how the DA’s office works (it has more than 300 attorneys on staff), how the top prosecutors advocate for things and how state efforts to reduce crowding in prisons are affecting things on the local level for DAs.

Apathy Alert! Election Attention in Short Supply

• Local pollster John Nienstedt tried to sound the alarm on his blog yesterday, warning grimly that perhaps 16 percent of San Diego’s registered voters will bother to vote by Election Day next Tuesday: “I’m talking about turnout potentially so weak it could damage the city’s psyche.”

Yikes! A municipal psyche is a terrible thing to be damaged.

Last November’s special mayoral election drew a 36 percent turnout, but it did feature a high-profile race whose outcome was in at least a bit of doubt. The election is sleepier this time around.

As we noted in a story last week, low-turnout elections typically spell good news for Republicans. (The county’s registrar of voters, by the way, is predicting a much larger countywide turnout than 16 percent.)

• The U-T profiles the race for a seat on the state Board of Equalization, which “acts as judge and jury in disputes over bills, makes sure assessors follow the law and administers about $56 billion collected annually from taxes and fees levied on everything from property to pizza.” Several ex-politicians, including two who represented parts of San Diego County, are in the running for the job, which pays $130,490 a year.

• KPBS provides a guide to the two City Council races and examines a city proposition that would make it easier to dump a troublesome mayor, and the two Barrio Logan propositions.

Revealed: California’s Baffling Water Rules

Here’s a stunner of a story from the Associated Press: “California’s 19th-century water laws give nearly 4,000 companies, farms and others an unmonitored amount of free water, while the state is mired in a three-year drought that has forced water cutbacks to cities and agriculture.”

How much water are we talking about? Trillions of gallons. To make matters worse, “companies, farmers and cities with such water rights are exempt from drought-related cuts in water allotments this year, although they collectively are the biggest water consumers.”

Lawmakers May Kill Unusual Student Fees

Some students at San Diego State have been making a stink about new fees that would sock them with $400 in extra bills each year to pay for more professors and classes. They’ve had company at other California State University campuses.

But now, the state legislature is looking into banning the annoyingly named “student success fees,” the Sacramento Bee reports.

Quick News Hits

• VOSD’s weekly Culture Report bemoans the loss of a hippie haven at UCSD and offers details about art exhibits, plays, a nationally recognized record shop (remember those?) and a show called “#hackingIMPROV: A Generative Song Cycle.” Catchy!

• A CityBeat reporter discovers that the city is home to dozens of canyons, many more than 13 listed on a city website. Trigger warning: The story includes a moment of deadly hawk-on-mouse violence.

• “The charity that has given scholarships for 23 years in the name of football great Charlie Joiner has run short of funds, leaving promised awards unpaid, and its annual golf tournament won’t be happening in June this year,” the U-T reports.

• A CityBeat columnist slaps around the Mt. Soledad cross and its supporters, creatively referring to it as “yet bombastic cruciate of divine torture.”

Actually, “cruciate” is an adjective that means cross-like, so this phrase is grammatically incorrect. I’ll leave it to higher powers — the the ones beyond my editor — to decide whether it’s spiritually incorrect too.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.