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This L.A Times story published this week is full of solid reporting and drives home a clear message: We’re pumping money into public transit than ever, yet ridership is going down.

And yet, I couldn’t make it past the lede before getting distracted, then annoyed. The decline in ridership can be seen “across Southern California,” the story says just nine words in. But read a little further and you’ll notice the story is really only about Los Angeles and Orange counties. Is ridership down in San Diego? I still don’t know.

I’ve long been vaguely aware of the dispute over whether San Diego counts as Southern California. But I chose to ignore it, because of course it does. San Diego is both as southern and as California as it gets – you can literally walk across the country’s southern border into Mexico, and we’ve got the beaches, the sun and the passionate belief that any food can be made better with the addition of avocados that people have come to associate with the state as a whole.

Turns out the Times’ readers representative had to write a column in 2012 reminding the rest of the paper that yes, San Diego is part of Southern California. In it, she describes a hilarious Times correction from the year before:

“The Times published a correction in February 2011 after a Sports article stated that Southern California last staged a Super Bowl in 1993. That’s when the L.A. area last held one. But the most recent Super Bowl in Southern California was in 2003  in San Diego.”

I know some San Diegans insist we shouldn’t be considered Southern California out of a lame disdain for being part of anything that includes Los Angeles.

But Google “Southern California” and San Diego, not L.A., is the first city mentioned.

Of course, we’re not the only region that struggles with who counts and who doesn’t. My husband and I jokingly bicker all the time about whether he, as a native of Eureka, Calif., counts as a Pacific Northwesterner. (The correct answer is no, obviously.)

And Vox put out a call this week asking readers which states count as part of the Midwest.

After all, Vox notes,“Places are defined as much by outsiders as by insiders.”

(One final note: It’s a total pet peeve of mine when someone plucks an anecdote out of a story unrelated to the main message, and makes it into A Thing. That’s precisely what I’ve done here. So please, read Laura Nelson and Dan Weikel’s story on fewer people using transit, and appreciate it for the good piece of journalism it is.)

What VOSD Learned This Week

This week, we went way back. Back to a time when there was only one Royal Baby and one Kardashian-West spawn. A time when we were all proud of Manti Te’o for supporting that poor, sick girlfriend of his. A time when two actors of color were nominated for Oscars.

I’m talking about 2013.

It’s felt a lot like 2013 lately thanks to the return of Lee Burdick, Lori Saldaña and Bob Filner.

Filner, of course, spoke to us last week about what might have been had he not resigned in disgrace. This week, his former chief of staff re-emerged. She’s written a book about her tenure in Filner’s inner circle. Liam Dillon reviewed the book, including some big contradictions it contains, and pulled out the most shocking revelations. In her own personal essay for our site, Burdick laments that she’s still jobless even more than two years after the whole debacle.

Then there’s Saldaña, the former assemblywoman who announced she’ll challenge Mayor Kevin Faulconer. She spoke to Dillon about her decision to leave the Democratic Party and why she endorsed Filner even after expressing concern to party leaders about his behavior.

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Speaking of stories that never go away, the Chargers announced they’ll stay in San Diego in 2016 and work on a stadium deal. Rejoice for a moment. And then brace for the next looming deadline in the saga that will never end.

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Back in 2013, we investigated a number of problems with a nonprofit that held classes for people on probation and parole. It had lost its right to operate but was still getting referrals from government agencies. Lisa Halverstadt checked in and found that the nonprofit closed – but one with a very similar name and the same phone number popped up in its place.

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Councilman David Alvarez’s infrastructure proposal acknowledges a longstanding problem: The city can’t spend the infrastructure money it has fast enough.

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Developers in Otay have a big little problem to deal with: a rare butterfly.

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Even as city leaders keep talking about addressing homelessness, the downtown homeless population has spiked.

What I’m Reading

 President Barack Obama penned a piece explaining why he’s drastically reducing the use of solitary confinement, and banning its use on juveniles altogether. (Washington Post)

 A great little piece of satire about the neverending trend pieces on people who leave New York for Los Angeles, or vice-versa. (New Yorker)

 Time to get enraged all over again: A former Giants player who died at 27 – 27! – had CTE, the condition found in Junior Seau and other players, and it was advanced to a stage mostly seen only in far older players. (New York Times)

 The restaurant industry is set up to prevent women from reaching the top. (Eater)

 Before each execution in Missouri, a prisons official hands the executioners an envelope stuffed with $100 bills. That is, um, problematic. (Buzzfeed)

 Just unbelievable: Long before the state of Michigan admitted there was a problem with the water in Flint, they shipped clean water to their own workers there. (Mother Jones)

Line of the Week

“Perhaps it speaks to the hardiness of women, that put on your boots and put your hat on and get out and slog through the mess that’s out there.” – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, noting that all the senators, parliamentarians, pages and floor managers who showed up to work after a massive blizzard were women.

Sara Libby

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

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