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So much for a Faulconer-Gloria contest: High-profile Democratic Councilman Todd Gloria is going to run for state Assembly instead of trying to unseat Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Local politico types have considered Gloria, the widely praised interim mayor in the post-Filner era, to be the top candidate to run against the Faulconer. But the mild-mannered and moderate-leaning current mayor has avoided controversy, making him hard to dislodge in 2016.
Meanwhile, the congressional seat held by Rep. Susan Davis — another potential job for Gloria when term limits kick off him off the Council — doesn’t seem to be going vacant anytime soon. So what’s a rising star like Gloria to do to remain in the spotlight and not fade away into out-of-office obscurity?
Going north to Sacramento may be the only option. Gloria will run for the seat held by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who will run for state Senate in 2020 because she, too, will be termed out. (Good thing we created this handy guide to San Diego’s political musical chairs.)
Gloria’s chances for victory in the ultra-solid Democratic Assembly district will be good. Potential rival candidate Sarah Boot, who ran for Council and lost, has dropped out and will support Gloria. Former interim Councilman Ed Harris, also a Democrat, is still running. The GOP will only win if the district is teleported to East County.
A New Kind of Neighborhood Watch
Never mind what you’ve seen on TV: Not every neighbor (present company excluded) is a Gladys Kravitz out to peer behind curtains and wonder about what’s in that big package on your porch. Neighbors can be nice even in the big city. But how do you bring people together who live nearby but not next door?
Social media is trying to come to the rescue, but Facebook, Twitter & Co. aren’t necessarily up to the task. Enter a newish, popular networking app called Nextdoor. The app-makers say San Diego is one of its strongest markets. VOSD’s Sara Libby tried it out over several months in the South Park neighborhood and reports on what she found.
Turns out Nextdoor can be helpful as a kind of community complete with helpful nosy parkers: “it’s a place where neighbors share fruit from their backyard trees, corral loose dogs and return them to their owners and keep a watchful eye on their neighbors’ homes — a real little online Pleasantville.”
When it comes to crime, Nextdoor has partnerships with cops in some areas, and it’s even helped the police track down trouble.
City’s Still Diverting Money to Ballpark
The baseball stadium downtown is a decade old, but it’s not paid off. Nor are the Padres paying all the costs outside of the money borrowed to build the thing. As VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt discovers, the ballpark is still costing the city $14 million a year. Sure, some is funded by taxes on hotel rooms around the stadium, but the rest isn’t — and it’s money that could go to other purposes like fixing Balboa Park.
There’s another thing to consider as politicians fall over themselves in the rush to support a new football stadium: Promises, promises. “When voters OK’d the construction of Petco Park in 1998,” Halverstadt writes, boosters of the project promised that new condos, hotels and shops nearby would drum up enough new cash to cover the cost of the ballpark.”
• The L.A. Times has an extensive look at the zillion (est.) scenarios that could happen as Los Angeles tries to swipe (er, get) a pro football team.
State Gets an F for Water Conservation
• The whole state only managed to reduce water consumption by 3 percent in February compared with last year. Southern California’s water consumption actually went up, probably because of that 18-hour shower I took last Thursday. (L.A. Times)
• The Times explains how water rationing will work.
• The city wants to spend as much as $1.6 million on a public media campaign to raise awareness about the drought. (Related news: Some San Diegans apparently don’t have enough awareness about the drought. Gee. Have they been ignoring those digital highway signs that distract drivers with messages about saving water?) (SD Reader)
NYC Media’s Drought Blindness
The New York Times has suddenly jumped big-time into coverage of the California drought, particularly with Sunday’s widely read story package with stunning photos of scrub brush next to lush neighborhoods. It all makes us look like utter dingbats for daring to live here.
In fact, writes author Steven Johnson on Medium, “some of the complexity of the situation has been sacrificed in order to adhere to the familiar moral that the state’s residents are finally getting their environmental just desserts.” As he writes, “Mother Nature didn’t intend for 2 million people to live on Manhattan Island either,” and “80 percent of California’s surface water supports the farms of the Central Valley.”
So cut off the farmers, right? Well, the Central Valley “produces 25 percent of the food we eat, and almost half of the fruits or nuts we consume” in the entire country.
‘Ladies’ Take on Blair, Jo & Co.
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report includes details about experimental music, an “acoustician” (fun fact: a relative of mine claimed to be “clairaudient”) and drag queens performing lost episodes of “The Facts of Life.” Huh. I always suspected Tootie had a secret dark past with a gang of roller derby punks, and Blair probably shot a man in Aspen after watching the WNBA with Jo. (I might have watched too much television as a lad.)
Quick News Hits: Rolling Through the Deep
• “California legislative leaders took a bold step Tuesday toward protecting immigrants living in the country without documentation by backing legislation to offer Medi-Cal and other public services to a population they said they want to help move out of the shadows.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
• Sick sea lion pups are still getting stranded. (L.A. Times)
• The Onion site has a timely headline that satirizes the news in more ways than one: “SeaWorld Responds To California Drought By Draining Animal Tanks Halfway.” Orcas, the fake story says, will be flipped over once an hour to stay moist.
None of this is true, thank goodness. The last thing we need to do is make things worse for these smart animals. Next thing you know they’ll watch bad cable TV and concoct a real-life Orcnado. You heard it here first. (And, presumably, last.)
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.