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The folks behind a last-minute ad blitz against Measure D may have run afoul of San Diego’s campaign finance law.

A political action committee for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association spent about $40,000 this week on radio ads opposing Measure D, which would raise city hotel taxes and make it possible to build a new convention center facility that could also double as a football stadium.

But the committee hasn’t disclosed that purchase through the city’s campaign finance system – which is supposed to happen within 24 hours of any expenditure over $1,000 within 90 days of an election.

The treasurer for that group, April Boling, said the committee is subject to a different set of rules than the ones that require the 24-hour disclosure.

The ad splurge seems to have been a last-minute decision to rally opposition to the measure because there was no committee set up to handle this kind of buy.

The executive director of the city’s ethics commission, speaking generally, said all expenditures on city measures need to be filed with the city.

Podcast: Convadium -> Innovadium -> Turducken

On this week’s podcast, Andrew Keatts and I grappled with the news that the Chargers’ vision for a convadium downtown now includes “the region’s first diversity-focused start-up incubator and accelerator.”

We may or may not have come up with other creative things the team and mayor might put into Measure C in the last 10 days of this wacky election cycle. We talked about Keatts’ boffo story this week about how far behind its projections SANDAG is on collections from a previous tax increase and what that means for the new one proposed in Measure A.

We also welcomed Mason Herron to the show. He broke down what we know about early voting so far. Basically more Democrats AND more Republicans are voting early.

Lawrence Herzog, who teaches city planning at San Diego State, weighed in, not positively, on the question of whether football stadiums facilitate thriving downtowns.

With several smaller donations and one $750,000 donation, the Chargers have now spent $7.5 million on the campaign for Measure C. Opponents have raised $124,000.

National City Chamber Apologizes for Its Role in Alcohol Permitting Drama

A few days ago, we wrote about a bizarre drama in National City over a woman who accused a city councilman there of hinting that she may need to support his campaign with a donation if she wanted an alcohol permit for her small business. The city’s staff supported her application but she did not get approval from the City Council. The Chamber of Commerce there is now apologizing for its role in amplifying her concerns.

The Problem with ‘Tactical Urbanism’

There’s a trend in urban planning called “tactical urbanism” or “creative placemaking” in which community members make small changes and improvements to a space. Usually the changes are made quickly – like in a weekend – and happen outside the normal city permitting process. It could be anything from painting a crosswalk to sprucing up an abandoned lot with benches and tables.

We wrote about one such effort last year that went awry. A group of realtors tried to make some improvements to a block on Logan Avenue in Barrio Logan. But community members there objected to the idea of outsiders parachuting in to show residents how to improve.

The Washington Post revisited our story on Friday as part of an effort to understand whether tactical urbanism has a race problem:

“This spirited flurry of ‘city hacking’ has opened the lid on the wonky discipline of urban planning and is starting to change the fabric of people’s daily lives.

But since many cities also contend with stark inequality, it’s worth asking who these fixes are intended for and how this new spirit of engaged urban citizenship can benefit everyone.”

Sacramento Report: Voter Registration Bonanza

After a dismal turnout in the 2014 election, the state Legislature’s passed no fewer than 16 bills aimed at boosting voter registration and turnout, including several bills from San Diego’s delegation, Kelly Davis reports in this week’s Sacramento Report. Davis reports back from Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s town hall on boosting voter turnout in underserved areas.

U-T Editor: Endorse, Just Don’t Support

The Union-Tribune endorsed Mara Elliott for city attorney. It’s the biggest race in San Diego right now, though it hasn’t seemed to capture the public’s attention.

The endorsement, however, made me think of something else. A few days ago, Union-Tribune Editor Jeff Light scolded reporters who donate to political campaigns. A recent story by the Center for Public Integrity highlighted many small donations from journalists across the country to presidential candidates, though none from those who actually cover the presidential race.

The U-T’s reader’s representative called Light and me to get comment.

“Getting at the truth turns out to be a hard job. It takes training, experience and strength of character. Above all, it takes an absolute devotion to impartiality. Publicly participating in political advocacy undermines that altogether,” Light said.

However, there Light was, cited as part of the group that decided to endorse Elliott. An emphatic endorsement in a major newspaper seems like it’s worth a lot more to a campaign than a small monetary donation. I’m not sure how Light doing that is consistent with his insistence that journalists must have an absolute devotion to impartiality in elections.

U-T Ownership Drama Continues

It appears a deal was all in place the other night for large news corporation, Gannett, to purchase tronc, the company that owns the L.A. Times, Union-Tribune and many other major newspapers. But then, suddenly, the bankers financing the deal backed out.

“It’s just a broken deal. The money guys don’t reach for the Kleenex, they open Excel. Broken deals mean one thing: opportunity. That’s why, as early as Thursday afternoon, new buying scenarios moved into the planning stages, ones of which we can already see, and detail, the outlines,” writes Ken Doctor, who has owned this story so far.

He outlines an intriguing possible scenario: One outcome might lead to the L.A. Times ending up in the hands of L.A. billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who might also acquire the U-T since they are now so closely aligned.

The Week’s Top Stories

These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Oct. 22-28. Click here to see the full top 10.

1. The Ultimate Guide to the Local Ballot Measures
Can’t tell Measure E from Measure L? We’ve got you covered. (Voice of San Diego)

2. National City Grocer Applied for an Alcohol Permit, Then Things Got Weird
The longtime owner of a small market in National City applied for a permit to sell two refrigerator doors’ worth of beer and wine. What happened next offers a peek into the strange world of small-town politics and alcohol permitting drama. (Maya Srikrishnan)

3. Opinion: The Numbers Support the Convadium
The Convention Center is essentially at maximum impact for its size and capacity, and the San Diego market is a strong one for conventions. The convadium will perform very well as a convention center, plus host major sport and entertainment events. (Rob Hunden)

4. SANDAG’s Last Tax Hike Is on Track to Fall Billions Short – and Measure A Could Too
Campaigns for and against Measure A are focusing on how the $18 billion it’s expected to raise will be spent. It turns out there are serious questions over whether the $18 billion they’re fighting over will materialize at all. (Andrew Keatts)

5. Smaller County Cities Could Muddy San Diego’s Plan for Pure Water
San Diego’s recycled water project is facing roadblocks at a crucial time, partly thanks to an unusual problem: the city is running short on sewage. (Ry Rivard)

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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