SANDAG, the umbrella coalition of local government agencies, didn’t just mislead voters last fall about projected revenue from a transportation measure. As our new reporting discovers, SANDAG had practice in deception: Back in 2004, it asked the electorate to boost sales taxes to pay for a measure that was supposed to bring in $14.2 billion in revenue. Actually, public records reveal, the agency had forecasted revenue of $12.9 billion, and its board approved the projection. No one bothered to tell voters.

Here’s a previous readers guide to the scandal we’ve unraveled. Andrew Keatts previously reported that SANDAG is now actually expected to bring in $5 billion less than the $14 billion that voters were misled into thinking was projected. That was a result of an error in the calculation that SANDAG officials covered up and didn’t acknowledge until after our reporting.

“Overpromising how much money the tax would bring in allowed the agency to promise more construction projects and regional infrastructure funding, and therefore generate more support for it,” our Andrew Keatts reports.

Fletcher’s Running, Again

Former legislator Nathan Fletcher has had quite a decade.

Ten years ago, he got out of the Marines.

In 2008, he ran for state Assembly and won, serving as an moderate Republican. He got high-profile legislation passed and was considered a rising star in a party without many of them in the state. When he leveraged his vote on the budget for an expansion of redevelopment in San Diego, he was both lauded and pilloried by San Diego leaders.

But then as his first candidacy for mayor flagged, he left the GOP. It became a national story but wasn’t enough to get him through the primary. After the race, he became a Democrat and again lost a mayoral race, while drawing wrath from the right and far left.

He worked at Qualcomm and traveled the world. He also taught at UC San Diego. Since his last mayoral race, he’s stitched together a lot more stable support from Democrats. Last year, after a divorce, he married Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a prominent legislator.

Now, he’s running for county supervisor, hoping to replace longtime Supervisor Ron Roberts, a moderate-ish Republican who represents much of central San Diego and is stepping down due to term limits. Omar Passons, an attorney and fellow Democrat, is also running (here’s our podcast with him).

Former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (a Republican who also came up short in a race for mayor) said she stepped down from the office precisely because she was considering running for this seat but she has since not made an announcement.

More Politics

• Another Democrat is running against embattled Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the top Democratic targets in the entire country. This one is a veteran and business owner named Paul Kerr.

• A House committee wants to spend $1.6 billion on the border wall. (AP)

• “More than 300 workers reported wage theft in the year after San Diego’s minimum wage and sick leave law took effect,” a new report says. (NBC 7)

• The governor and the state legislature appear to have worked out an agreement to extend California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce pollution and protect the environment. A vote could come by Thursday this week. (LA Times) San Diego’s Diane Takvorian, an environmental health activist, had been leading some of the opposition to it from her perch at the state Air Resources Board.

$65K for Vet in Shelter Whistleblower Case

“A veterinarian who worked at the county Department of Animal Services for more than a dozen years before suing the agency and alleging animal mistreatment has settled the case for $65,000,” the U-T reports. The vet had claimed that dogs in county kennels were forced to live on frigid floors, prompting workers to call them “ice puppies.”

Inmate Dies of Firefighting Injuries

We’ve reported on inmates who serve as backcountry fire crews. An inmate injured while using a chain saw to clear brush in the recent Lakeside blaze has died. (Times of SD)

• SDG&E and the Cox cable company are fighting a complex battle in court over the deadly 2007 Guejito wildfire. (U-T)

Culture Report: Touch Me, Touch Me, Touch Me…

Local artists have been working with the blind to create art with textures designed to be touched, and now it’s going to be on display at Horton Plaza. That’s the lead story in this week’s VOSD Culture Report.

The goal isn’t only to bring the blind into the artistic process. It’s also to help people experience art through more than one sense.

Also in the Culture Report: A coffeehouse in Paradise Hills is making waves through events and community outreach, a Frida Kahlo show in Barrio Logan drew huge crowds, poet laureates galore will be in town this week, and more.

Quick News Hits: Happy as a (Baby) Clam

Nope, nope, nope. (Trigger warning: snake news.)

 Firefighters appear to have gotten the upper hand on a fire that broke out near Lakeside called the Jennings Fire. It had grown from five acres to 100 acres in less than an hour. (NBC 7)

 Barrio Logan got some love from The New York Times.

I love it when the Onion uses local datelines for is fake stories. Here’s one from Encinitas: “Mom Triumphantly Drags Hotel Pool Lounge Chair Back To Family Like Fresh Kill”

Why did a juvenile suspect on the run from the law in Santee go into his backyard and shoot himself in the arm “for reasons that are unclear”? Good question, sheriff’s department. Very good question. He injury isn’t life-threatening, by the way. (@kellylynndavis)

NBC 7 had me with its headline: “Why Are Hundreds of Baby Clams Washing Ashore?”

Turns out the clams that have been turning up by the hundreds around Coronado are more like miniature mollusks than infants from the sea: They’re called Pismo Clams, despite their lack of golfing skills, and “they have small, smooth, yellow-tinted shells with green moss-like fur, which helps them catch their food.”

Wait, fur catches food? Stand by, I’m going to see if I can rustle up a nice steak.

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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