The owner of a small produce market in National City applied for a permit to sell beer and wine. This simple request has spawned complex consequences.

In the months after the application was filed, the request “opened up a world of strange small-town politics and alcohol permitting drama,” reports our Maya Srikrishnan. The woman seeking the permit says it was denied after she got a visit from a local City Councilman, who talked about what other liquor providers would do for him. He adamantly denies the conversation took place.

HBO Show Scorches Chargers and Measure C

Bill Simmons, the former star writer at ESPN, who created the acclaimed website Grantland only to abruptly leave it after a feud with the network, has a new show on HBO. The show is called Any Given Wednesday and it just went after the Chargers and the team’s ballot measure.

The show is going to get some attention in San Diego. It featured legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who urged a no vote on “the convadium. It’s not a real thing.” Simmons devoted several minutes, in fact, to mocking the concept of a “convadium” and the actual word, which he scoffed at Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos for creating.

Although the Chargers and allies have adopted the word, they shouldn’t be blamed for creating it. It was our creation, and we began using it in 2011 as the idea of a joint convention center and stadium was taking shape.

The word was like a bird we helped hatch. It flew away from us. We couldn’t hold it back. But I maintain it is a good word. A functional word. “Joint-use convention center stadium facility” is quite long.

— Scott Lewis

Opinion: Measure B Snuffs Smart Growth

In a VOSD commentary, two foes of North County’s Lilac Hills housing development take aim at Measure B, which will go before all county voters: “While the developer is peddling a vision that paints Lilac Hills Ranch as a sustainable development, nothing could be further from the truth.” They claim the project will boost congestion and require long commutes. And that’s not all, they write: “Land use approvals at the ballot box mean that the developer gets to write its own ticket.”

• Speaking of the election, Donald Trump continues to warn about a rigged election. The politics/sports site notes that “Voter Fraud Is Very Rare in American Elections.” But not every possible case of voter fraud ends up being successfully prosecuted.

Here in San Diego, a U-T review in 2014 found that “26 ballots have been cast in the names of 10 dead San Diego County citizens since 1998.” The district attorney’s office didn’t prosecute two cases linked to this revelation.

‘Small-Town Undertaker’ Jab Just the Start

The debate over a new football stadium hasn’t exactly been a refined and delicate affair. In recent VOSD commentaries, two prominent advocates have gone after each other, variously warning of an “irreversible and unprecedented planning disaster” and accusing foes of being “small-town undertakers,” whatever that means.

Our commenters have jumped into the conversation. We’ve compiled several of the best ones.

One reader says the beneficiary of taxes paid by hotel guests should be the deteriorating Balboa Park, “not to mention our crumbling streets and sewers — America’s Finest City has among America’s worst streets. Don’t think the visitors don’t notice.” Another notes that the downtown stadium proposal, the topic of the commentaries, isn’t the only one in existence: “I support a capped amount of public money, most of it in the form of city land, to get a privately financed stadium done in Mission Valley. How does that make me, and many other Chargers fans, small town undertakers?”

We also hear from architect Rob Quigley, the target of the undertaker attack from Chargers adviser Fred Maas, who complains of a “needlessly nasty and personal editorial.”

Court Adjusts Ruling on Briggs

There’s been legal action regarding the controversial attorney who’s been at the center of many battles over growth and development in San Diego and beyond: “The state appellate court on Monday refused to reconsider an earlier ruling denying attorney Cory Briggs $258,629 in fees for a lawsuit he brought against the city of San Diego,” inewsource reports. “However, the court did modify its opinion published on Sept. 22 to remove references to ‘illegal,’ ‘illicit’ and ‘criminal conduct’ out of ‘an abundance of caution.’”

Briggs’ attorney, former District Attorney Paul Pfingst, plans an appeal. The inewsource story notes that it’s facing a legal challenge of its own on the Briggs front. The open government group represented by Briggs sued inewsource, “challenging the legality of their lease agreements,” it reports. “The Superior Court dismissed the case, concluding that it was prompted by inewsource’s investigative journalism, but [the group] has appealed.”

Fixes Sought for Coronado Bridge

State Senator Ben Hueso is pushing for fixes to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge to prevent accidents like the one over the weekend that killed four people when a car drove off a freeway bridge. “We have vehicles raining onto the Barrio Logan community,” he said, according to the U-T. “We shouldn’t feel like our lives are in danger because of our need to get around.”

Hueso is suggesting that guardrails could be a solution.

North County Report: Inside the County Supe Race

Our weekly North County Report summarizes the competition for the third county supervisor district, one of the marquee local races this election. Also: Battles over growth in Encinitas and Del Mar, local school bond measures (school districts across the county want voters to tax themselves by $1.6 billion, Inewsource reports) and a food container ban in Encinitas.

Infamous S.D. Killer Will Be Focus of Series

A notorious serial killer from the San Diego area will get profiled on national TV. The team behind this year’s widely praised “American Crime Story” show about the O.J. Simpson saga will profile the murder spree of Andrew Cunanan, a native of National City, in a future season. He killed designer Gianni Versace and four other victims in 1997.

Quick News Hits: Return of the Green Machine

• The City Council has unanimously supported a $400 million downtown project centered around a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, a Whole Foods Market, and homes. It “promises to be the biggest, most expensive and densest mixed-use building,” the U-T reports.

• “Half of all American adults are included in databases police use to identify citizens with facial recognition technology, according to new research that raises serious concerns about privacy violations and the widespread use of racially biased surveillance technology,” The Guardian reports. The NY Times explored the use of the technology in San Diego last year.

• New York Magazine reports that there are hitches in Elon Musk’s plan for a super-super-duper-fast hyperloop between L.A. and San Francisco.

• While online-only journalists may find it hard to believe, newspapers continue to make the lion’s share of their revenue from print editions instead of online editions. At Politico, media critic Jack Shafer suggests that newspapers screwed up big-time by embracing the Internet, an effort that’s been a “miserable failure,” instead of focusing on print.

• Rejoice, guac fans! The Great Avocado Shortage of 2016 seems to have been averted: “the expectation is that millions of pounds will soon be flowing to the United States to start to fill the empty pipeline,” reports The Produce News.

Whew. Now we can get back to discussing Very Important and Vital Issues, like whether peas belong in guacamole.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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