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On the latest episode of our elections podcast, which will drop tomorrow, Ry Rivard and I tackle a grim subject: the death penalty.

Two of the folks we spoke with for the episode have a familiarity with the issue that no one ever hopes to have. Mike and Penny Moreau’s son Tim was murdered in Oregon in 1990. They came on the show to talk with us about wrestling with their decision on how to vote on Propositions 62 and 66, the two statewide measures that address the death penalty.

It’s a very delicate subject, of course. It’s hard – even for people who ask questions for a living – to ask questions about the death of a beloved son. But at the end of our conversation, Penny said something that made me feel like she was giving me permission to unclench and exhale:

“You know one of the fears that parents of murdered children have is that their child will be forgotten. And even though this is related to the propositions, it allows us to tell our story again, and we really do appreciate that.”

See, this week has been heavy for me. On Monday morning, my wonderful 92-year old grandma died. And so did my college buddy Mike, who I worked alongside at the Daily Trojan at USC.

My first instinct was to bury that grief and try to distract myself with work. Which is why I ended up doing things like this cool Facebook video with Andy Keatts, where I ask him about his SANDAG investigation though my face is streaked with tears from crying all day.

But far more effective than distraction has been doing the opposite – sharing stories about my grandma with my family and with friends who’ve asked about her, and reminiscing about Mike with that core group of friends from our college newspaper.

Sorry if you find this crude, but a specific memory of driving with a friend to a seedy adult bookstore in Hollywood to buy a joke birthday gift for Mike – an, ahem, adult film on VHS tastefully named “Tit-anic” – has been making me laugh through my sadness all week. He LOVED it.

And this New York Times story sharing Patton Oswalt’s reflections on grief in the wake of his wife’s death was, of course, particularly relevant. In it, he vows to finish the true crime book she’d been exhaustively working on up until her death.

It was yet another reminder that though deaths are inevitable – sometimes one after the other – stories, man, they live forever.

What VOSD Learned This Week

In a major investigation this week, Andrew Keatts revealed that TransNet, the sales tax hike voters approved several years ago to pay for transportation projects, is on track to bring in billions less than SANDAG said it would. That could have big implications for Measure A, a separate sales tax hike that would fund separate transportation projects. SANDAG is telling voters Measure A will bring in $18 billion – but for that to happen, San Diegans would have to spend money like they’ve never even come close to spending before.

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The District 9 City Council race is one of the few competitive contests happening in the city. This week, Ry Rivard looked at the two candidates’ plans to fund affordable housing, and he examined a misleading claim made against Georgette Gomez.

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We did a little tour de San Diego County this week, in the run-up to the election:

Ruarri Serpa found that opponents of Measure T in Encinitas, which deals with housing density, are misleading in their claims about just how much housing the measure would actually bring.

Farther east, folks running for the Vallecitos Water District are trying to keep prices so low that they’re actually charging customers less than the water costs to bring in.

All over the county, folks will be weighing in on school bonds. For the first time, there will be extra info on their ballots about how much the measures might cost in the long-run. But those campaigns are still being funded by the construction groups likely to benefit from the bonds if they go through.

And in Chula Vista, the mayor is among those pushing an infrastructure measure that opponents fear might not fund infrastructure at all.

What I’m Reading

• This is a well-written longread about how the militia movement in the United States has slowly shifted its sights from the government to Muslims. (Kansas City Star)

• My friend Gene wrote a beautiful essay about fatherlessness and family. (NPR)

• The writer of this haunting piece shares a name with a teenager who was brutally lynched in 1916. He traveled to the site of the lynching to unravel what happened, and how the town has processed it. (The Undefeated)

• In pop culture, there’s no such thing as a bad police shooting. (Washington Post)

• The housing crisis in a nutshell: We’re building plenty of housing – for our cars. (Bloomberg)

• Jennifer Frey was once one of journalism’s biggest rising stars. Then her bylines vanished. (Deadspin)

Line of the Week

“It may be a gentle delusion to think of your pet as your ‘child,’ but it’s still a delusion.” – From a piece that pretty convincingly argues against calling oneself a “pet parent.”

Sara Libby

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

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