The buses in San Diego can be slow, inconvenient and expensive (fares are pricier than some other big cities like L.A., Chicago and Washington D.C., and transfers aren’t included). In a new opinion piece, our transportation commentator Alon Levy tackles the issue of the bus system’s pokey pace.

As he notes, the busiest bus lines average about 10 mph, and even a “rapid” bus on El Cajon Boulevard takes its sweet time at 12 mph. That, Levy says, is not much faster than a cyclist.

One solution would be to set up bus operations on a grid, but the landscape of San Diego makes that challenging. Boston, which faces similar challenges, may hold a lesson for us: we could “look to the trolley as its primary form of public transit, with most buses — with the exception of the University and El Cajon corridors — useful primarily as trolley feeders.

Levy also thinks it would be helpful to give buses priority on roads through special lanes and priority at traffic signals, like you see now on Park Boulevard. Finally, he writes, buses will move faster if no one collects fares on them.

Politics Roundup: County’s $60M Pension Suit

“The county pension board and an investment officer it fired in 2011 have teamed up in a $60 million lawsuit against Lee Partridge, the outsourced chief investment officer whose six-year tenure was marked by leverage-heavy deals and multimillion-dollar fees,” the U-T reports. The suit claims Partridge made trades without permission; he didn’t comment.

It’s seven years old now but our explanation of the county pension debacle in 350 words still holds up.

CityBeat columnist John R. Lamb examines the special election mess and complains that “San Diego this week once again stands frozen in decision-making purgatory, with the only discernible movement coming from fingers on opposing sides pointing shivs of blame.”

Lamb also takes opportunities to describe Kevin Faulconer as “Mayor McSteamypants” (when he got mad) and “Mayor Crankypants.” He didn’t include a “Mc” with the latter jab for some reason, even though it works a little better with it.

Our Lisa Halverstadt appeared on KPBS to talk about the county’s $2 billion reserve and the possible shifting of priorities on what to do with it to something other than nothing.

It looks like SoccerCity developers will not get a public vote on their project this year. They’ve earned a public vote but unless the majority on the San Diego City Council changes its mind about a special election this year, SoccerCity won’t be on the ballot until 2018. The investors in the project say that’s too late to get a professional  expansion team in Major League Soccer. NBC 7 observes the tension on the Council over this.

Two political clubs on opposite sides of the aisle — San Diego Democrats for Equality and the Log Cabin Republicans — joined together to release a statement condemning political violence after the shooting of a congressman in the D.C. area. “While we do not agree on many issues; to strike violently against another in an effort to effect the political process is an affront to our democratic republic and our nation,” it read.

North County Report: Protest vs. Protest at the Pier

This week’s North County Report begins with a recap of our reporting on a new battle over how much protection the endangered gnatcatcher bird needs from development. Plus: Defenders of religious tolerance and anti-Sharia Law protesters yell at each other at Oceanside Pier, Vista now has City Council district maps, KPBS looks inside an Oceanside homeless camp, and the struggling Vista Village area is getting a surfer-friendly Swami’s restaurant.

Long Waits for Veteran Burial at Sea

More veterans want to be buried at sea, NBC 7 reports, leading to long waits for families who want the remains of their loved ones to be deposited in the ocean. Navy ships handle the duties on the water. “On average, 950 people are buried at sea in ceremonies every year, according to the U.S. Navy,” NBC 7 reports. “There is a gun salute during the ceremony attended only by members of the Navy.”

• “A bill in the Legislature would make it easier for U.S. military troops and veterans to get a break on misdemeanor DUI offenses by completing a diversion program designed to help people whose service has left them emotionally damaged.” It looks like the bill will sail through. (U-T)

Quick News Hits: Cactus Thieves Need to Dry Up

Chula Vista’s leaders have unanimously agreed to let the city become a testing ground for self-driving cars. Well, sort-of self-driving cars: Drivers will be behind the steering wheels and able to take over when needed. “Chula Vista hopes to use new, upgraded street lights with sensors to help collect the testing information and share it with other testing grounds and companies to improve self-driving car safety,” NBC 7 reports.

We previously reported on how the region is getting ready for the testing of driverless cars, especially on local highways with express, carpool and bus lanes.

The Chargers are finally, really, out of here.

San Diego Unified School District is changing its email-retention policy and a lot of us who consider those public records are concerned about it.

Who’s brazenly stealing cuttings from succulents in North Park and University Heights? It’s gotten so bad that several residents plan to install security cameras in their gardens. The cactus culprits remain at large.

I asked my friend Mary-Kate Mackey, an Oregon garden writer, about plant pilferers. “Around the country, there’s a small but significant group of plant thieves who feel it’s just fine to take a snip — or a whole tree!” she said.

It’s gotten so bad that Saguaro cactuses are being microchipped so thieves can be tracked via GPS, she said.

What should we do with these thieves? Hopefully, the law will stick it to them. But cactuses aren’t exactly helpless. Back in 1982, a man in Arizona fired at a couple Saguaro cactuses for fun, and the shots severed the humongous prickly arm of one estimated to be a century old. The cactus arm landed on the man and killed him.

Lesson: Don’t mess with a cactus.

Update: After this was published the County Employees Retirement Association, SDCERA, reached out to clarify it’s role in a lawsuit mentioned above:

The False Claims Act action you reference was not filed jointly by SDCERA and the former employee.  The case is a “qui tam” action and was filed by the former employee without SDCERA’s knowledge.  Under the law, when a plaintiff files a qui tam action, the public entity has the right to intervene.  SDCERA did so. SDCERA is not ‘teaming up’ with the former employee,” wrote Mary Montgomery, public communications manager. 

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 and follow him on Twitter:

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