We learned this week about how much the city needs to spend to fix things like streets and water pipes, compared with how much it plans to spend and, spoiler alert, the gulf is huge.

Now, it looks like things are even worse than we’d imagined: Liam Dillon reports that the $1.8 billion gap between what the city says it needs to spend over the next five years and the money it expects to have  is just the beginning. Turns out, numerous big projects and wish-list items like a new football stadium aren’t included on the city’s list.

Pastor: Where’s the Mayor?

About 30 pastors in southeastern San Diego endorsed Kevin Faulconer in last year’s special mayoral election. We called one of them, the pastor of the Encanto Southern Baptist Church, to see how he thinks Faulconer is doing. Good, for the most part, he said, but he raised questions about the mayor’s accessibility. The mayor’s office said he meets four times a year with religious leaders, but the pastor told us large swaths within that coalition haven’t had the access they would’ve liked.

Politics Roundup: ‘Task Force’ Is So Last Year

• The Daily Transcript reveals that Peggy Shannon, one of the victims to come forward accusing then Mayor Bob Filner of harassment and who had a day named in her honor, died in December.

• The mayor’s about to unveil his Chargers “action group,” Councilman Todd Gloria revealed the camera-equipped car that will map the city’s streets and Gloria wants $46 million to be spent on potholes.

• Rep. Scott Peters has some thoughts about how fellow Dems can get their groove back.

• CityBeat checks in on the continuing battle over a Jack in the Box restaurant in North Park, the city’s rules regarding permits and its enforcement of its own regulations.

• “San Diego could have its first legal medical marijuana dispensary this week, but the pot pioneer and his opposition have fought at every step in the process.” (KPBS)

• The state government’s financial problems aren’t necessarily behind us. (L.A. Times)

Watch Out, Sunday Drivers!

New research suggests that San Diego residents who drive on Super Bowl Sunday face double the risk that they’ll end up in a drunk-driving crash. From 2009-2013, “in San Diego County, there were 40 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sundays versus 18 on the comparable other Sundays,” the L.A. Times reports.

Makes me wonder if I should make my annual crowd-avoiding trip to Costco or just sit at home and watch the Puppy Bowl. And Costco it is!

• The local transportation system hasn’t decided whether to ban e-cigs on board, but the BART system in the Bay Area might do just that.

Government News by Your Government

Hardly anyone raised an eyebrow a few years ago when the county government created a pricey “news” website devoted to news about the county government. It’s a different story this week in Indiana, where a government-funded “news” site is raising hackles and forcing the governor, a potential presidential candidate, to back away from the idea of “state-run media.” It’s not helping matters that the site would be called “Just IN” (get it?).

Quick News Hits: Slip-Sliding Away

A waterfront tourist center’s days are numbered. (NBC 7)

• Remember the local party-pooper environmentalist who suggested pulling the (bathtub) plug on the nifty embarcadero water park because of the drought? Now, a petition drive is afoot to keep 1,000-foot Slip-n-Slide events out of California cities like San Diego this year.

• CityBeat’s resident mortality guru drops by a local Death Cafe and discovers that dead people don’t need to be buried or burned up and stuck in a niche or urn: “we can lie in dry ice in a coffin in our living room as long as our family will have us.”

• The Onion, the satire news site, imagines the progression of a measles epidemic from 1998 (“British physician Andrew Wakefield publishes the first in a long line of 0 scientific studies that link vaccines to autism”) to 2014 (“Measles outbreak in Southern California reduces San Diego classroom to manageable size”).

• A San Diego State professor provides an assist to an explanation of the mysterious “green flash.”

• A San Diego company called Emotient is developing technology that can detect “microexpressions” — those expressions that flash across our faces, often without being noticed — and interpret our inner emotions. A prominent adviser “says he is torn between the potential power of all this data and the need to ensure it is used responsibly, without infringing on personal privacy,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Uh-oh. I’ve spent a lifetime perfecting the “Smile and Nod” without anyone being onto me. Oh wait, I’ve said too much!

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 randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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