In the last seven days, a San Diego businessman asked ladies if they’d like to to take a ride in his van while being filmed, a reader emailed me his thoughts on the attractiveness of a female candidate and yet another call rang out for San Diego leaders to include some women in their panels, events and photo ops.

In other words, it was a typical week.

Inspired by these events, I’ve put together this handy 3-Step Guide to Not Being Creepy Toward the Women You Interact With Professionally®.

There might be better ways to highlight women than to offer them a ride in your van … while being filmed. 

“I love smart women. I married two of them …” begins a piece published in the Union-Tribune by Neil Senturia, a local entrepreneur who’s looking to start a reality show that sounds a bit like a cross between “Shark Tank” and “Cash Cab” where “We drive around, visit companies, discuss deals, make some investments in local companies and maybe tell a few funny stories.”

To his credit, Senturia realizes that his venture would be better if it isn’t just “old white guys” — but there’s just something about the pitch that sounds a little creepy. Points for trying, but the optics aren’t great.

If you’re tempted to email me your feelings on how hot a female candidate is, a word of advice: don’t.

Did you know it’s an option to not weigh in on how hot you find a female candidate for office? Not only is it an option that exists, it’s an option I recommend. Highly! It’s also easily applied to similar scenarios, like whether you think a woman is hot enough to host a TV show, to grace the cover of a magazine or to win athletic sponsorships.

Put some women on your panel.

Really, it’s 2016 and you’re embarrassing yourselves.

I am beyond fed up with San Diego’s endless parade of expert panels/speaker lineups comprised of white men.

— Elizabeth Fitzsimons (@ewfitzsimons) May 19, 2016

I’m glad this tweet generated some serious traction. In the past, I’ve had mixed results with calling out the endless parade of all-male panels — manels — in town. The head of one prominent local org that is a repeat offender on this front once responded to me pointing this out by … calling up Scott Lewis to complain about me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you find yourself organizing a panel that’s in danger of becoming a manel, here are a couple good resources.

And before you fire off a knee-jerk “We just happened to end up with all men!” defense, lol no.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Fact checks, man. Nothing riles passions like they do. This week we ran two, so there were double the passions, and double the fun.


First, Maya Srikrishnan examined a beef Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and other North County leaders have with SANDAG’s plan for a proposed sales tax hike: that it shortchanges their neck of the woods in favor of San Diego transit projects. That claim ignores the fact that a huge share of North County residents commute into San Diego for work, meaning projects in the city benefit them too.

Then we dug into the argument that 6,000 vacation rentals are siphoning units from the market, thereby making the housing crisis worse. Ashly McGlone couldn’t back up that number. Data does reveal, though, that Airbnb listings in San Diego are on the rise.


Education grab bag: San Diego Unified trustee Kevin Beiser urged his Castle Park Middle School students not to take state tests, though state rules forbid educators from doing that.

San Diego Unified has been talking up its restorative justice program, but it turns out the program has only made it into a small handful of schools.

An incumbent running for re-election to the County Office of Education board joined the Good Schools for All podcast to talk about the race (and his opponent briefly explains why he declined the invite to debate).


Politics grab bag: The D9 candidates would like to give city pensions the Jon Snow treatment. (That means they want to resurrect them from the ashes of 2012’s Prop. B, for those of you who aren’t “Game of Thrones” fans.)


On the San Diego Decides podcast, we broke down the legal race you’ve been hearing a lot about – the one for city attorney – and the legal races you’ve been hearing nothing about – the one for Superior Court judge.

One of the city attorney candidates has walked back her claim about the enforceability of the city’s Climate Action Plan. But the whole debate leaves a big question.

The Sacramento Report has details on the two dueling death penalty initiatives that might face voters in November.


The newest episode of the Culturecast centers on a #deepthought: Is there a right way to redevelop a neighborhood like Barrio Logan?

What I’m Reading


This was a pretty glorious week for smart, insightful writing on pop culture.

  This is the most hilarious “Game of Thrones” episode recap I’ve ever read. (MTV)

  How the narrator of “Jane the Virgin” found his voice. (NPR)

 One of the internet’s greatest treasures, The Toast, recently announced it will close shop. A new post encapsulates pretty perfectly why I’ll miss it.


 Somehow our old pal Will Carless always finds a way to be in the thick of global action. A year or so ago, he was in Uruguay when that country legalized marijuana. Now, he’s in Brazil, where, uh, shit is going down. I particularly enjoyed this explanation he did of Brazil’s new all-male Cabinet. (Global Post)

 Some of my favorite stories are the ones that peel back the curtain on little worlds or pockets of history I never knew existed, like this story on the prison bands of the 1930s, which were so popular they had millions of radio listeners and commanded stays of executions so as not to interfere with performances. (Marshall Project)

 Megyn Kelly surrendered. (New Yorker)

Line of the Week

“I don’t care about ‘feed the trolls’ versus ‘don’t feed the trolls.’ I care about me, and what makes me feel better. And sometimes what makes me feel better is just making fun of some jackass. Oh, do they feel great because they got a rise out of me? Don’t care. They’re not my friend and I will never think about them again.” – Lindy West, author of a new book on internet harassment, on how she responds to Twitter trolls.

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

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