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“Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if San Diego is just a junior varsity city,” writes VOSD’s Scott Lewis in a new commentary. He’s pointing to our difficulty lately in getting big and even little things accomplished when snarls keep snuffing them in the cradle.
Now, Lewis writes, Mayor Kevin Faulconer has a chance to lead on the minimum wage (“Whatever Faulconer chooses, he’ll need to do something about the framing that he doesn’t care about the working poor”) and the expansion of the Convention Center (“nothing seems to be on the mind of city insiders more than this one, and yet normal people don’t seem to care”).
No matter what Faulconer decides, he has a chance on both issues to take a backseat, or to articulate a clear vision to San Diegans about what should happen next.
Uber Over All?
Cab companies say they’re not losing business to ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
But Uber is very appealing cab drivers, who are dumping their cabs and going to work for the app instead of paying an average of $400 a week to lease a cab. As we report in a new story, about half of 700 taxi drivers in a local association are driving for Uber, at least part time.
“A lot of our taxi drivers who went to Uber are saying, ‘If the taxi industry is fixed, we’ll come back to the taxi industry,’” a taxi driver organizer says. “I’ve had more than a handful of drivers who are like, ‘My heart is in the taxi industry but this is a better opportunity for me right now.’”
Minimum Wage, Maximum Campaign
Both sides of the battle to raise the minimum wage are ready to start fighting it out this week, the U-T reports, as the City Council cancels its vacation to consider overriding a mayoral veto.
The next step is most likely an attempt by GOP-friendly business interests to force the issue to go to the ballot (possibly in 2016) by gathering petition signatures. If enough valid signatures are gathered, the state minimum wage (which has itself been raised) will remain in effect into 2016, and San Diego’s won’t be higher. Supporters of the wage boost tell the U-T they plan to spend $300,000 on the petition fight.
• The VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast’s guest in the latest edition is Mel Katz, executive officer and co-owner of staffing firm Manpower San Diego. He talks about his support of the minimum wage compromise. The county pension system, meanwhile, gets the Goat of the Week award.
Behind a Deadly Year at Del Mar Races
The New York Times, which has spearheaded coverage of horse-racing’s horrific stream of horse deaths, shines the light on a terrible season at the Del Mar racetrack. As it reports, 12 horses have died, and other bad news has plagued the track. “We’ve had a bit of a dark cloud,” a trainer says.
In regard to the dead horses, people are blaming “cheap horses that had been poorly trained,” the story says, and inexperienced jockeys and the turf track. A medical director says “it’s like an airplane crash — it’s not usually one thing.”
The photos with this story come from VOSD contributor Sam Hodgson.
U-T Stands with SeaWorld
• The editorial board of the U-T, ever pro-business, dismisses concerns about killer whales at SeaWorld and declares that the amusement park’s plan for larger tanks is fantastic. “SeaWorld is a major and welcome component of San Diego’s tourist economy. This new plan will only make it stronger.”
• The U-T also editorializes against the county pension system, which funds the pensions of retired county employees: “be nervous, county taxpayers and pensioners — very nervous.”
A Wall Street Journal headline and sub-headline told the story last week: “San Diego Pension Dials Up the Risk to Combat a Shortfall/San Diego County’s Pension Manager Is Extreme Example of Those Using Leverage to Boost Performance.”
In a new U-T commentary, however, pension fund CEO Brian White questions this and other bad press. Accusations of recklessness are false, he writes, and the fund is “using tried and true principles of asset liability management and diversification, and not relying heavily on more volatile equities to close this gap.”
Quick News Hits
• The effort by some environmentalists to redefine the word density — to stop it from being a byword for developers-run-amok — continues with a U-T commentary by prominent attorneys Livia Borak and Marco Gonzalez: “Modern-day environmentalists who see themselves as mere professional naysayers do the movement a disservice, and ultimately work against their own long-term environmental interests for the specter of short-term NIMBY gain.”
• The city has a new executive director of the Commission for Arts and Culture. She’s Dana Springs, who had been serving as interim director since the previous director, who quit in disgust when accusations arose against then-Mayor Bob Filner. (City News Service)
Springs has had some frictions with local artists during her interim tenure, as we’ve reported.
• The San Diego Zoo Safari Park — née the Wild Animal Park — has a giraffe baby: His name is Gowon and he’s less than a month old, NBC 7 reports. He and his slightly older brother Kamau are the first Masai giraffes born at the park.
Fun fact: Back around 1950, hundreds of people would call the San Diego Zoo each April Fools’ Day and ask for Mr. Fox, Mr. Lyon or Mr. G. Raffe. I’m not making this up.
No word if anyone ever wanted to know if they had Prince Albert in a can.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.