Together we made it through another year of San Diego politics and public affairs. We hope our investigative reporting, explanations and civic engagement events helped make sense of the issues impacting your quality of life. From the Chargers stadium drama to police and public safety, we are here to provide you strong, independent news coverage about the issues that matter most. We need your support to provide this service. If you can afford to make a donation today, it would mean a lot. Please give now and have a happy New Year.


In what our Liam Dillon calls a “doozy of a decision,” the state Public Employee Relations Board has set the city of San Diego on a path to more pension pandemonium. In 2012, voters passed Proposition B, which eliminated pensions for new city employees. The new ruling, however, concludes the mayor should have negotiated with employees before putting his name on the initiative. The unforced error could have dramatic consequences if the ruling is upheld.

“The result could cost the city a ton of money, restart the pension system that had been closed for new employees and generally cause pandemonium — and all because Sanders wanted his name on the pension initiative,” Dillon writes.

An Urbanist Guide to 2016

The people in charge — and not to mention plenty of the people — want San Diego to become more of an urbanist wonderland. That means more growth clustered around public transit options, and cutting way down on the amount of driving residents must do.

To be successful, this rethink will require San Diegans to be flexible about their commutes, their neighborhoods and more.

How’s it going? Well, “city officials have been here before, and failed to keep their word,” reports VOSD’s Andrew Keatts. “In 2016, a handful of transportation and planning projects and development trends will serve as an early test of their resolve.

Keatts runs down a variety of projects that will be major landmarks toward progress in the year ahead, including new growth blueprints for the city’s North Park, Golden Hill and Uptown neighborhoods and several projects downtown.

Top Local Photographer Looks Back

In a Q-and-A, we check in with North County native Don Bartletti, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who’s retiring after an extraordinary 31 years working for the L.A. Times and, before that, for local papers.

Bartletti talks about covering Vietnam, reuniting with the subject of a famous photo and his work to reveal the stories of refugees and immigrants. “On this side of the border, when I see immigrants succeeding and bringing their joyful culture, language, food and art, I think: My God, this is wonderful. I feel so uncomfortable when I go to Seattle or Portland because it’s quiet in a restaurant, and they’re all white people. I come back to L.A. and — yahoo! Look at these different people.”

VOSD Podcast: Our Staffer’s Surprising Story

To end the year, the VOSD Podcast this week focuses on one of our own: reporter Mario Koran. Scott Lewis interviewed Koran about his gritty past, including alcohol and drug addiction and a stint in a Wisconsin jail, and his continuing transformation.

City’s NFL Bid: Too Little, Too Late?

The city is out with a 56-page promotional packet touting its bona fides as a city worthy of an NFL team, the U-T reports, just in time for the January meetings about which team(s) get to move.

As for the other two teams in the hunt for a new home in L.A., the Raiders say they don’t have a stadium bid and the Rams say they have a fresh financial proposal.

• You can check out the city’s full proposal (“San Diego: A Premier Home for the NFL”) in PDF form here. Make sure to check out the cover depiction of the stadium, which continues to look like a futuristic Tic Tac box. In the foreground, take a look at a trail to the stadium with what look like (at best) giant brown slugs.

The L.A. Daily News sums up the three submissions St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland made to the NFL. Basically, it’s in the 32 owners’ hands now.

• VOSD’s Scott Lewis made a splash with some classic stadium snark via Twitter. You can also hear him talk about the stadium drama on XTRA 1360. He talks about 8 minutes in.

• The prospect of a pro soccer team in San Diego has gotten murkier.

North County Report: Health Care Workers Fight CEO Compensation

Some of North County’s special districts offer their chiefs some special pay, but recently workers launched efforts to check administrators’ powers at two of those agencies. Plus, some arts news for North County and more in our weekly update about the region.

• Also Wednesday, the United Way of San Diego County announced to stakeholders that its chief of only a year and a half, Kevin Crawford, is leaving to become the city manager of Carlsbad.

Inside Life on Death Row

Journalists from the L.A. Times get a “rare peek” at death row in San Quentin.

Here’s just one of the details about life for about 700 prisoners: “Death row is off-limits to most of the activities and volunteers that flood the rest of San Quentin with Shakespearean theater, computer coding and jazz. There is no space in the old buildings for such programs — even religious services in the East Block chapel must be held in a converted shower bay.”

Weather Roundup: Here Comes Trouble

It’s beginning to look a lot like … another 1997. Satellite images of the El Niño in the Pacific Ocean look quite a bit like they did almost 20 years ago when we got smacked by endless rain. (NBC 7)

Meanwhile, snow pack levels in the Sierra Nevada mountains are promising, and sea lions are suffering and starving because they’re having trouble finding food.

Quick News Hits: Likely Story

• The L.A. Times has this news: “A state criminal investigation into the California Public Utilities Commission centers on former President Michael Peevey’s persistent intervention into the process to assign costs for the failure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, newly released court documents show.”

• A debate is coming next week in one of the few marquee political races of 2016: the Dem vs. Dem fight between state Sen. Marty Block and Assemblywoman Toni Atkins.

• Information about every California voter may have been floating around the Internet. (L.A. Times)

• Local company Qualcomm has struck licensing deals with three big firms in China. (City News Service)

• Oh gawd. Now it’s the Reader that’s lost its damn mind.

• How come all these TV trucks were parked in front of strip joints in the Midway district?

Supposedly, they were covering that big warehouse fire. Pro-tip: Don’t try this excuse at home.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member 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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