I haven’t gotten invested in all that many new TV shows over the last couple years, but one newish one I watch regularly is “The Good Place,” a comedy about the afterlife. (Spoiler ahead.)

One of the main characters, Chidi, is sweet and kind but was so utterly incapable of making decisions during his life — whether it was committing to a relationship or a sandwich order — that it tormented everyone around him. Thus, he ended up in “the bad place.”

I’ve been reminded of Chidi and his personality combo — well-intentioned but paralyzed with indecision — a lot lately.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s inability to make decisions has been well-documented, whether it’s the Chargers stadium, homelessness or how to regulate vacation rentals.

But now the paralysis seems to be spreading.

This week, interim District Attorney Summer Stephan announced she won’t be making any decisions regarding Councilman Chris Cate’s fate. Cate is facing scrutiny, and possibly criminal action, for leaking a confidential memo from the city attorney. There’s nothing wrong with a prosecutor handing off a case when there’s a legitimate conflict or the appearance of one, but we simply don’t know whether either is the case with Stephan, because she won’t say. She avoided both a decision and an explanation.

Also this week, City Attorney Mara Elliott dropped a bomb: She believes one of the proposals to regulate short-term vacation rentals — the one supported by several Council members and thus, most likely to pass — is illegal. The result: No vote on vacation rentals. No decision.

It’s not the Council’s fault, this time, that San Diegans must continue to live with the status quo on yet another issue facing the city. But it sure is a frustrating and familiar pattern.

I’m no fortune-teller. I’m just saying: Refusing to make a decision on anything, ever, didn’t end well for ol’ Chidi.

What VOSD Learned This Week

San Diego Unified has angrily and aggressively denied our previous reporting, based on accounts from individual students and data provided by charter schools, that district high schools sometimes counseled struggling students to leave. It turns out the district actually has official forms it uses to do the very thing it denied doing.

We also got a better sense this week of just how many employees the district shed over the last few months, and Maya Srikrishnan explained why special education costs are going up even though enrollment is way down.


San Diego’s been up shit’s creek for a loooong time. That is, the city has struggled with sanitation and sewage problems long before the hepatitis A outbreak brought a new round of scrutiny. Speaking of the outbreak, police enforcement has ramped way up as officials work to clear the streets, and homeless residents say it’s upending their lives.


Mario Koran visited Otay Mesa to check out construction of the border wall prototypes, and explored some questions about what happens next. He also explains when Border Patrol agents can pull people over. Meanwhile, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Sheriff Bill Gore talked about how they plan to implement a new law limiting cooperation with federal immigration officers.


San Diego families struggling to afford child care and preschool could soon be getting some help from the state. And on the other end of the education system, med school students at UC San Diego benefit from an innovative program combining art and medicine.


On the VOSD Podcast this week, we talked about DA Summer Stephan’s strange decision to back away from making a decision on Councilman Chris Cate’s memo leak, and the possible implications. And the Good Schools for All podcast is back to explain the school choice process and our cool map for researching local schools.

What I’m Reading

• The Oregonian’s series on Nora the polar bear is just incredible – heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny and suspenseful.

•  She was a “one-woman Wikileaks.” The journalist who led the incredible Panama Papers investigation was killed this week by a bomb planted in her car. (The Guardian)

• Well, this is disturbing: ProPublica found “a number of false or wholly unsupported factual claims” in recent Supreme Court decisions.

• A woman caught up in a typical internet catfishing scheme got the best revenge ever: She fell in love with the male model whose photo was being used to lure her. (The Atlantic)

• This line in Lupita Nyong’o’s powerful op-ed about her experience with Harvey Weinstein really gutted me: “I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him.” (New York Times)

 You’ve gotta laugh to keep from crying. (New Yorker)

• This story is more enthralling than a piece about online mattress companies has any right to be. (Fast Company)

Line of the Week

“We don’t have the justice system on our side; we don’t have institutional power; we don’t have millions of dollars or the presidency; but we have our stories, and we’re going to keep telling them.” – This piece is not just an excellent read but has a headline I would die to have written myself.

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

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