The MTS, the county’s regional transportation agency, is getting a lot of heat over its deal to resurrect a stretch of backcountry railroad known as the Desert Line. Paul Jablonski, the agency’s CEO, thinks everyone needs to cool down.

“In Jablonski’s view, MTS’s effort was simple and noncontroversial: The agency simply seized an opportunity in 2012 to rework the lease to the line and make money off a dormant asset,” reports VOSD’s Ari Bloomekatz in a new story.

Bloomekatz sat down with Jablonski and asked about the deal, the worries about the people involved (“this doesn’t scream to me of competence,” Bloomkatz says) and the prospects for the project.

South Bay Corruption Spawns Fixes

In a new story, we look at reforms produced by the massive South Bay corruption scandal. There are fixes in the works at the state and local levels, including a new bill passed this week by the state Legislature and written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that bars school administrators from fundraising for the political campaigns of board members they serve.

Commentary: Battle over Taxis? Yes, Please!

Upstart companies like Uber and Lyft are creating all sorts of headaches for the local taxi industry by offering transportation that’s cheaper, more comfortable and more reliable. That’s good, declares former City Councilman Jim Madaffer in a new VOSD commentary.

“The majority of people believe taxi drivers couldn’t care less about their passengers,” he writes. “Technology has delivered new ideas and new ways to do old things. The cab industry is a prime example of technology passing tradition by.”

Convention Center, Clean Thyself

A federal appeals court has handed a victory to the San Diego Convention Center, which wanted the right to hire its own cleaning staff, The Washington Post reports. It’s quite an arcane case based on interpretations of anti-trust law.

And the Idea Tournament Winner Is …

The winner of the Idea Tournament at Politifest earlier this month is Traveling Stories, a project to provide financial literacy workshops at farmers markets to teach kids how investing time pays off through rewards. The project gets the grand prize of $2,500 cash and $2,500 in consulting services.

SDG&E, which provided the cash award, will give more grants to the runners-up. Get a run-down on the finalists here.

Quick News Hits: By Any Other (Parade) Name

• A new motion by the prosecution reveals even more background about the Mexican moneyman accused in the burgeoning campaign finance scandal, the U-T reports: “federal investigators have investigated him in connection with drug smuggling, money laundering and threats.”

• The New York Times tracks military hardware given to law enforcement and finds that agencies in San Diego picked up 403 night vision “pieces,” 156 assault rifles, six pistols and one armored vehicle.

• KPBS marks the 20th anniversary of a San Diego school devoted to teen moms; the school just started a preschool program for children of the mothers.

• Over at San Diego State, a professor has developed a device to check the balance of athletes after they’ve suffered possible concussions on the field. (KPBS)

• A La Jolla resident has been raising a stink for years about the name of his town’s La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival, which he thinks should be “faith neutral.” “If you were a Buddhist, a Jew or a Muslim, you would not feel welcomed,” he tells the Reader.

• This just in (no, we’re not talking about my stomach): Denny’s has debuted a “Baja Moons Over My Hammy” entree.

• VOSD’s weekly Culture Report highlights news coverage of county arts funding, a “hypnotic” and “psychedelic” mural in La Jolla (those are definitely among the least-used La Jolla-related adjectives), a band called The Burning of Rome (the sacking is feeling neglected), and a Latino “Odd Couple.” Also: The Culture Report takes note of a Reader cover story about the local (and legal) moonshine business afoot at San Diego-area “hoocheries.”

Pro-tip: If you’re asking people on the street about the nearest hoocherie, make sure to pronounce it properly.

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 and follow him on Twitter:

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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