Chuck Patton, owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, has become one of the major players in the local scene with two shops and a third on the way. Like San Diego’s world-famous breweries, he makes his own product here at home. But unlike San Diego’s world-famous breweries, he doesn’t feel like the belle of the ball. More, in fact, like the runt.

As Patton tells VOSD’s Catherine Green in a Q-and-A, city roadblocks don’t make it easy on businesses like his to build new shops while breweries are treated like celebrities with their own entrances to success. “And here we are, we’re being punished for not selling alcohol,” he says.

“It seems like there’s a general feeling of people working for the city are afraid to make a mistake,” he adds. “And so when they come across an issue that they haven’t seen before, especially like with a coffee roaster — not real common — they’ll immediately assume the worst and send you back to square one.”

Ready, Set, Delay Bike Rentals!

“San Diego’s bike sharing program was supposed to start between January and March of this year,” KPBS reports. “Now it’s December and there are still no bikes to be shared.”

What’s the deal? It’s not clear. About 55 bike stations have been installed, and the company handling things says it wants to install about 20 more by next month. Then it will be able to renting bikes, but not in Pacific Beach or La Jolla, where “community input” has caused even more delays.

• In a VOSD commentary, Stuart Cohen, executive director of the transportation advocacy group TransForm, lights into SANDAG, the coalition of local governments, for taking the wrong route to the region’s transportation future. He calls for a shift in plans toward goals like reducing the miles that cars drive, boosting “smart growth” and creating more express lanes on the highway.

Council: Oops, Take Two on President Vote

• NBC 7 raised concerns that City Council members violated open-government law by having a daisy-chain-style series of private meetings about who would become Council president. Now, newly elected Council President Sherri Lightner has called a special meeting for today when the Council will re-vote on who will become president.

• Lightner continues to talk to the media — finally — about her priorities. “Basically, we need first off to address the public safety,” she said in an interview Friday with KPBS. “We want to retain our officers and attract good new police officers. We know that that’s going to require, conceivably, raising the salaries.”

• Protesters marched Monday and called for a City Hall staffer to be sacked for making rude comments about earlier protesters at a City Council meeting. The staffer has apologized and is being suspended for two weeks without pay. (KPBS)

Invisible Children Gives Up the Ghost

Invisible Children, the local charity that drew intense attention to violence Uganda and then imploded as a charismatic founder had a massive breakdown, is going to close in 2015. “To get people to understand and to support the final laps of a long race has been more challenging than we thought it would be,” the CEO tells Good Magazine.

Open-Borders Movement Gains Steam

The idea of open borders — yup, actual open borders — sounds like John Lennon-style dreaming, the kind that sounds nice in a song but has no basis in reality. But things are changing, and the idea seems to actually have some serious defenders. Vox says “a small but devoted group of advocates have succeeded in turning open borders from a dirty word to a real movement with strong arguments backing it up.”

“The upside of open borders,” one booster says, “would be the rapid elimination of absolute poverty on earth.” He’s serious, and he says we in the U.S. wouldn’t be inundated with crime and higher unemployment for Americans.

Quick News Hits: Drought? What Drought?

• The death of one of only six northern white rhinos at the former Wild Animal Park is getting worldwide attention. The species is on the verge of extinction. (Washington Post)

• You know those people who say global warming doesn’t exist because it gets cold and snows sometimes? Well, L.A. Times columnist George Skelton has had it with how everyone keeps referring to a drought even though it’s, you know, raining: “The reason droughts hardly ever officially end is because they’re seen by government minds as necessary to shape public policy and achieve a political agenda. Drought is a scary, motivating word.”

• “It’s time for the Padres to bring back the brown,” says an NBC Sports blogger in a headline that we surely don’t need to see again. The point is that the team should embrace brown uniforms once again, just not the 1970s/1980s-style monstrosities.

• KPBS journalist Beth Ford Roth appeared on “Jeopardy!” in 2011, and is now writing about how she was publicly “boob shamed” by “Twitter vitriol that had nothing to do with how I played and everything to do with how I looked.”

One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s $300K

About 15 years ago, an art dealer picked up a painting at a Catholic Charity auction in San Diego. It only costs about $40, but he made a nice profit by selling it for $400 to an L.A.-area antique store, where it made its way onto a film set.

Funny story about that painting. It’s this one: “An avant-garde painting lost for nine decades until a Hungarian researcher spotted it being used as a prop in the Hollywood film ‘Stuart Little’ sold for almost $300,000 at auction in Hungary, a Pakistani news outlet says.

The painting had been missing since the 1920s. Meanwhile, I’ve been missing from local swap meets since the 1990s. Time to make a grand return to the untapped spoils of the Sports Arena parking lot!

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

Randy Dotinga

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

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