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When I covered elections for Politico and TPM, it was a minute-to-minute affair. You’d watch one candidate on CNN, then listen to someone else’s press conference. You’d live-tweet debates and follow people through diners in Middle America.
As you were doing those things, every reporter from every other outlet was doing them too. Maybe your reporter’s write-up of Mitt’s speech would be a little better and have a sharper angle than someone else’s. But you were fundamentally writing the same thing.
That is literally the opposite of how VOSD approaches election coverage. But we’ve often struggled to define what, exactly, our role is during an election. We’re not that outlet that goes to the press conference. So what are we?
I’m excited that we’ve started to nail down those details before 2016 rolls around. We’ve identified a few key races we want to focus on – but keep in mind the list could change and evolve. In the race for city attorney, City Council Districts 1 and 9 and County Board of Supervisors District 3, we want to help people understand the concerns and priorities of the communities being served, fact check the claims being made by and about the candidates, vet candidates’ backgrounds and break down big policy ideas.
There are several other races and potential ballot measures we’re monitoring that could also become big priorities for us. In other races that will be widely covered, like the mayoral election and state Senate District 39, we’ll try to carve out places where we can add value.
So this is an advanced warning that no, we probably won’t write a story after every mayoral debate and we won’t do a post each time a commercial or mailer comes out. But we will try to be strategic and nimble, and cover the hell out of this election in a way that works for us.
It’s about to go down – get excited.
What VOSD Learned This Week
When your car breaks down on the highway or if you get busted at a DUI checkpoint, you get towed. Government agencies like the city, the California Highway Patrol and San Diego County contract with towing companies to keep the roads clear and safe.
One of those companies is Angelo’s Towing, owned by Nash Habib. When Liam Dillon started looking into the region’s towing companies, Habib emerged as a fascinating character. He represents a storybook “I Made it in America” tale – he was born in Iraq, and made his way to America, where he’s now involved in several towing companies. But other parts of his story are less rosy: He has a criminal history, which was omitted on applications for those sought-after towing contracts. Indeed, the government agencies that have dealt with Habib have missed many red flags about his past, and his business dealings.
Scott Lewis set out to understand the Cory Briggs proposal that would remake the city’s hotel-room tax system and discovered the piece of it that’s so genius is also what makes it legally shaky. One local hotelier said he doesn’t understand the measure at all. That same hotelier is working on plans with SeaWorld to build or purchase a hotel for the park.
Briggs’ measure could pave the way for a downtown stadium. Kinsee Morlan wrote this week about maybe the only group on the planet that thinks Qualcomm Stadium is pretty rad.
Three San Diego politicians conquered three San Diego potholes – our groundbreaking (lol) investigation examines how they did. There are some tasks, though, that politicians outsource: Lisa Halverstadt rounded up the functions nonprofits are performing on behalf of government.
DA Bonnie Dumanis announced this week that she won’t charge the SDPD officer who shot an unarmed man in a Midway alley. The group of media organizations fighting in court for access to private footage of the shooting – we’re a part of that group – filed a motion arguing the city’s justification for keeping the footage secret is now moot.
Speaking of government officials trying to block public access to information, I polled San Diego’s legislative delegation on what they would do to boost transparency statewide. And the COO of Seattle’s police department talked about their decision to make body camera footage public on this week’s podcast.
What I’m Reading
Guy Fieri is trying to become a serious winemaker, and this profile documenting the process is hilarious. (GQ)
What a run Deadspin has been on lately. This week, it obtained the transcript of the NFL proceedings in which Greg Hardy was reinstated after having assaulted his girlfriend.
When death comes to an Airbnb rental. (Matter)
Just wow: A Missouri legislator is trying to block a Ph.D. student from studying the state’s restrictive abortion law. (Huffington Post)
Line of the Week
Here’s a game to play: When you look at posters for movies or TV shows, see if it makes sense to switch the title to “What’s Gonna Happen to This White Guy?” (“Forrest Gump,” “The Martian,” “Black Mass”) or if there’s a woman in the poster, too, “Are These White People Gonna Have Sex With Each Other?” (“Casablanca,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “The Notebook”). – Aziz Ansari, in a New York Times essay on casting more minority actors