On Friday, Ed Harris came by our office for a podcast interview we’ll roll out next week. This is Ed Harris the mayoral candidate, not Ed Harris the movie star.

I tagged along in the interview with Andy Keatts, mostly because I wanted to ask him one thing. Any political race is about drawing clear distinctions between yourself and the other candidates. Harris, like Faulconer, is fairly moderate in his politics. They’re both white, male and only a few years apart. They both have represented the same part of San Diego — the beach communities. What distinctions is Harris going to draw to persuade voters that he’ll be very different from someone with which he seems to have quite a lot in common? You’ll have to wait and see what he said.

But, telling Ed Harris apart from Ed Harris the movie star, or from Kevin Faulconer the Other White, Male, Moderate Beach Politician isn’t the only time it’s easy to get confused about some of the folks who run San Diego.

That’s why I want to play a little round of Know Your San Diego Leader.

First, let’s talk about Matt Hall. Which one, you ask. Good question! Matt Hall is the new editorial director, formerly a City Hall reporter and engagement editor, at the San Diego Union-Tribune. But then there’s Matt Hall, the mayor of Carlsbad.

Let’s move on to Dave Roberts. He is the only Democrat on the County Board of Supervisors and represents portions of North County. Or, alternately, Dave Roberts is a San Diego native and former Padres coach who was recently hired as manager of the Dodgers.

Then there’s a personal fave of mine: Mario Lopez is a beloved San Diego native and former “Saved by the Bell” star who now hosts almost every show on TV. But don’t get him twisted with Mario Lopez, the city’s former binational affairs director.

Finally, I want to end on two men who don’t have the same name but who look so much alike that I’m still not entirely convinced they’re two different people.

This is Ron Roberts, another county supervisor.

Ron Roberts
Ron Roberts

And this is Jerry Sanders, the former mayor and police chief who now runs the Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle
Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

I know, I know, some of you will insist you’ve seen them in the same room together. But honestly, how much were you drinking that night?

What VOSD Learned This Week

Schools deal with a lot of lawsuits – everything from teacher firings to solar panel deals gone bad. We knew anecdotally that attorney Dan Shinoff was involved in a ton of these cases, but Ashly McGlone got some data that revealed the extent of his grip on the market. That grip, though, is slipping as some schools are breaking ties with him and a group of lawyers is exiting his firm. Three cases in particular highlight some of the more serious problems districts have run into with Shinoff’s work.


Encinitas city leaders have gone out of their way to evade a state law meant to facilitate the construction of affordable housing.


In dissecting the Citizens’ Plan to change hotel taxes and pave the way for a downtown stadium, we’ve focused a lot on the legality of the plan and whether it’d require a two-thirds vote. Now a group of developers and planners wants folks to pump the brakes and consider a more basic question: Is a stadium right for East Village? (Spoiler: They think the answer is no.)


We have podcasts – with an s. The makings of a podcast empire, if you will.


This week, we debuted San Diego Decides, our election-themed podcast. Ry Rivard and I talked all about endorsements, and the head of the Lincoln Club explained how his group doles em out. Over at the mothership, Scott and Andy talked with the PR director for Comic-Con, who lifted the curtain on some of the mammoth event’s inner workings.


San Diego Unified never met a strategic plan it didn’t like. This week, we detailed a plan to boost students who aren’t proficient in English, and another one that would bring arts education to every school.

What I’m Reading

An important investigation into whether bay leaves actually add any flavor to food. (The Awl)

A data journalist wrote a quick daily story about the least desirable counties to live in, including the very worst, a place in rural Minnesota. Now, he’s moving his family there. (Washington Post)

Tim Atkins was wrongfully convicted of murder and released from prison. California has a system to compensate people just like him. So why won’t the state give him any money? (The Nation)

A beautiful essay on what it’s like to be the upwardly mobile daughter of a struggling homeless parent. (Buzzfeed)

These two pieces can help you take stock of ways to be more productive: “The Five Whys” and The Time-Consuming Tasks That Can Stall Women’s Careers. (New York Times, Harvard Business Review)

Broadway’s “Hamilton” has gotten every accolade in the history of accolades for being an inventive musical that celebrates diversity. But the diversity doesn’t seem to extend to the audience – my friend Gene writes on what it was like to watch the show amid a largely white crowd. (NPR)

Line of the Week

“I know many of you thought that I would be retiring today but if I was ever going to announce my retirement it would not be in a downtown Los Angeles hotel with this fairly ugly carpet.” – Tennis star Maria Sharapova, at a press conference announcing she’d failed a drug test.

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

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