This week marked my three-year Voice-versary. The phone calls for Andy Donohue have finally started to slow down.

When I started this job, I had some stories under my belt that had what investigators always seek: impact. (A story I edited on “legitimate rape” was arguably the biggest turning point of the 2012 election.) But I didn’t have any sustained experience producing investigations.

I thought to mark Year Three, I’d share some of my favorite Voice stories from the past few years:

Investigative Stories

This, from Will Carless, was the first big investigative project I oversaw from start to finish at Voice: On Local School Bonds, Big Donors Often Win Big Contracts.

Liam Dillon’s investigation into where emergency response times lag in the city became one of the biggest talking points of the mayoral election. Journalism: It can actually affect stuff!

The government still doesn’t appear to have fixed the funding formula that Kelly Bennett revealed handicaps the city of San Diego.

A New York Times story this week underscored the importance of Andrew Keatts’ investigation into the Sheriff’s Department’s Operation Lemon Drop.

San Diego Unified is continuing to implement safeguards for student athletes after Mario Koran exposed school officials’ bad behavior before and after a student suffered a devastating injury on the football field.

San Diego cops beat and arrested members of a City Heights family inside their own home – and video we obtained shows, to devastating effect, the extent to which officers lied about what happened.

Explanatory Stories

Lisa Halverstadt broke down the biggest and most explosive claims laid out in “Blackfish” – making the whole controversy easy to digest. More than a year later, this post still drives a ton of traffic to our site.

Another big traffic-generator long after the fact: Liam Dillon explained simply and clearly when police can legally pull you over.

You won’t find a better profile than Liam Dillon’s look at how Kevin Faulconer perfected the art of going from No. 2 to No. 1.

We don’t call him SLOP (Scott Lewis on Politics, for the uninitiated) for nothing: Scott Lewis pinned down congressional candidates’ stances on the child migrant crisis, and drove home how high the stakes were.

I Write Stuff Too!

These are the two pieces of my own I’m most proud of over the last two years:

Guilt by Association: Facebook Pics Could Help Send a Young Man to Prison for Life

I Watched U-T TV So You Don’t Have To

Thanks for making it a fun and deeply rewarding three years, y’all.

What VOSD Learned This Week

We’ve heard for a long time that the state’s landmark environmental law, CEQA, is wielded inappropriately by folks who don’t necessarily care anything about the environment but just don’t want to see certain projects built.

A case Lisa Halverstadt examined this week seems to be the clearest evidence we’ve seen yet of this playing out. A powerful Imperial County farming family used CEQA to sue a big solar installation. (Yes, they used an environmental law to stop a solar project.) The case settled, and the details are secret. But some ensuing lawsuits have offered a peek into what happened: The family got a big plot of public land out of the deal, and from what we can tell – no other changes were made to the project. The family got the land, and dropped its opposition.

CEQA is just one safeguard officials have put in place to protect the environment. City officials have envisioned a bold plan to protect against climate change – but it might be dead in the water before it even gets approved, Andrew Keatts revealed this week.

Then there’s our water future. San Diego has been doing a good job of saving water – unfortunately that’s one reason our water bills keep getting higher and higher.


The scandal that’s enveloped school board president Marne Foster is still unfolding piece by piece. The school board will address the controversy again on Tuesday in a strange way — it’s going to OK an investigation into Foster’s actions, consider a resolution honoring her and change the rules she might have broken all in one night.

This week, Superintendent Cindy Marten admitted Foster’s son was “part of” the reason a popular principal was removed. The school board met Tuesday and announced it would investigate a fundraiser Foster held for her sons, and a weird claim filed against the district involving Foster’s son. Strangely, the investigation does not seem to include the thing that’s caused the most outrage: whether Foster overstepped her bounds to get a principal fired.

What Else VOSD Learned This Week

Ever heard the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors”? This guy proves it’s true.

San Diego Unified will be using controversial capital appreciation bonds, but thanks to new rules, they shouldn’t be as bad as the ones that got Poway Unified in trouble.

The new Solana Beach planning director has to walk a fine line between maintaining pretty beach views and building enough housing.

The Sheriff’s Department’s 250 percent homicide clearance rate is not a typo.

Supervisor Bill Horn is trying to figure out whether he must recuse himself for the big Lilac Hills vote.

What I’m Reading

I never really tried to articulate my experiences as a young woman thrown into managing older men in a rigid, traditional newspaper environment because I’m afraid of unleashing all the feelings. Devon Maloney does it very well in this piece about why she quit her gig as pop music editor at the L.A. Times after only four months. (Jezebel)

This incredible investigation reveals how an Alabama law has become a weapon deployed against pregnant women – they can be locked up for using drugs while pregnant, even when the drugs were legal and even when the child wasn’t harmed. (ProPublica)

What outrage over a pharmaceutical company bro has taught us about medicine around the world. (The Atlantic)

A heartbreaking story about a 10-year-old who learns she has HIV. (Washington Post)

The scam-y roots of JustFab and Fabletics. (Buzzfeed)

Line of the Week

“It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed.” – Coronado resident Darby Monger, on the evil menace that is … painted bike lanes? (Seriously, this story is amazing and, astonishingly, not a joke.)

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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