For the past few days, Lisa Halverstadt has been looking into claims the county of San Diego is sitting on a lot of money it should spend to address problems in the county.

County supervisors have socked $2 billion away in various reserves, and there are several people who want to unleash more spending. Now, priorities may shift, as conservative county leadership considers breaking open the piggy bank, as least a little.

“At least two county supervisors see an opening for the county to play a more significant role in combating San Diego’s homelessness crisis,” our Lisa Halverstadt reports. “They’ve proposed pulling $25 million from the county’s reserve account and looking into offering up county properties to accelerate affordable housing development.”

County Supervisor Ron Roberts tells us that homelessness deserves attention. “It wasn’t the problem in the past that it has become today. It’s been with us and it’s been growing and it’s overdue,” he said. “I wish I’d have personally gotten involved earlier but hindsight’s always easier.”

Zucchet’s Redemption Story Has New Chapter

Michael Zucchet is back on a dais. This time, he’s become a port commissioner, a significant role in local politics.

It’s his first post back in public office since his resignation in 2004 — when he was a councilman serving as acting mayor — after being convicted in the strippergate scandal. His conviction was overturned. CityBeat had the definitive story in 2010, about his downfall and efforts to rebuild since.

As we’ve reported, despite their political differences, he has a high-profile friend in Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’s been behind him since Zucchet got in trouble.

Zucchet is head of the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, the city’s largest labor union. To get the port commissioner job, he won in a 5-4 vote against Paola Avila, an executive with the Chamber of Commerce.

• In other politics news, the developer of SoccerCity says the ballot measure to approve the project will be a “dead initiative” if voters don’t see it until 2018, and “granny flats” may get a break in San Diego. Meanwhile, the city attorney “says the state Supreme Court shouldn’t overturn April’s appellate court ruling upholding San Diego’s 2012 pension cutbacks because citizens’ initiatives aren’t subject to collective bargaining rules.” (U-T)

FieldTurf Under Fire Again

We’ve reported extensively on the problems with FieldTurf’s artificial turf on local school fields. Now, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the latest to document local issues with expensive FieldTurf fields falling apart.

• Oops alert: “The agency responsible for overseeing and analyzing public education data in California removed ‘bad’ Advanced Placement test results from its website last month, acknowledging it had published the wrong scores from 2016.”

DeMaio’s Recall Bid May Prompt Dem Legislation

Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, the Republican firebrand and failed candidate for mayor and Congress, is leading the effort to recall an L.A.-area state senator because he supports boosting the gas tax. Now, Democratic legislators “are pushing to change the rules governing recall elections,” possibly helping their targeted colleague.

“Under the proposal, people who sign a recall petition would have 30 days to rescind their signatures after they have been submitted to election officials,” the AP reports. “It would also give lawmakers an additional 30 days to weigh in on how much a recall election would cost.”

Tough Times for Horton Plaza

Stores continue to close in Horton Plaza, at one time a landmark shopping mall, as the newly renovated park on its north side seems to be drawing many homeless, NBC 7 reports. “Gradually stores are closing and spots aren’t getting filled up,” a store manager says, leaving little but small shops, a gym and Jimbo’s.

“We haven’t been seeing the profitable promises that we were told,” a nearby restaurant worker says. “We’re hoping that now that [the park] is open, they will start scheduling the 200 plus events they said they were going to start doing.”

Culture Report: Oceanside’s Arts Conundrum

Oceanside is working on a master plan to support the arts, but there’s no extra money yet. As this week’s VOSD Culture Report explains, that’s raising some eyebrows, especially in light of numbers that show the city spends 14 cents per capita on the arts, compared to more than $10 per capita in Carlsbad and San Diego.

Plus: A new style of hardball city politics may doom funding for the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, a famous Monet painting is on its way here and an exhibit has an unusual topic — purses.

• Eater Los Angeles lists the eight best places to eat on the drive from L.A. to S.D. It’s nice that the list isn’t full of fancy expensive joints. But, weirdly, it only manages to find good eateries here in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

Hey! We’re not exactly a food desert down here in the big city along the I-5.

Quick News Hits: What’s Behind the Door?

• The rapid-fire aggressiveness of California Sen. Kamala Harris in Senate hearings — on the FBI director’s firing and the Russia mess — continue to thrill her allies and annoy her critics. (LA Times)

• The local woman who was attacked by shark at San Onofre State Beach is still hospitalized about six weeks later, NBC 7 reports, but says she’s recovering and focusing on her children. Her family is accepting donations to support her care.

• The Sheriff’s department says it’s solved a 31-year-old Lemon Grove fatal stabbing case thanks to the discovery of a glove in evidence that had never been tested for DNA. The U-T story doesn’t have many details about the case, but it does say a 52-year-old man has been arrested in the 1986 murder. Both the suspect and the victim were 20 at the time of the crime.

• Gnat on a hot tin roof? Not this summer, the City Council hopes. With money restored for extra trash pickup, Mission Beach may be able to get its perennial pesky swarms of flies under control.

• The San Diego Convention Center gave me an existential crisis the other day. As I sat in one of the mammoth meeting rooms, I glanced at an exit door — complete with one of those illuminated EXIT signs — and noticed a little sign just above the push bars: “Not an Exit.” You can see a photo here.

Wait. The exit door is not an exit door? Ceci n’est pas une pipe? Oh dear.

The convention center semi-helpfully explains that it knows it posts “not an exit” signs on exit doors, but there’s a reason: “Those doors are unlocked. But attendees are encouraged to exit thru doors that won’t impact projection or speakers.”

So. Did I go through the not-an-exit EXIT door to see what was on the other side? Of course not. Jean-Paul Sartre is sure to be standing there waiting for me.

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

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

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