City Attorney Mara Elliott / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The person who did the most to provoke big discussions and debate about San Diego and its future, aka the Voice of the Year, was … City Attorney Mara Elliott.

San Diego has a long recent history of city attorneys who make the news, for better (sometimes) and for worse (often). City attorneys have become major political players and, at times, foes of their fellow elected leaders like the mayor and Council members.

Elliott, a Democrat who took office a year ago and pledged to be more like the quiet, apolitical county counsel, has followed in this tradition — with her own uniquely insistent style.

“She did not blend in. She quickly discovered how important her signature is on major policies. She repeatedly asserted legal interpretations that shaped San Diego’s biggest debates,” we write in our new story about her role in 2017. “Her interpretations have been forceful and disruptive, leaving the mayor and City Council scrambling to pursue its goals within them.”

How influential is she? Very: “She’s become the highest-profile Democrat and perhaps the most powerful politician in the city.”

The Rest of the List

Our Voice of the Year list includes several other people and groups of people too. Remember: Though many of the people on the list are accomplished, inclusion on the list is not meant to be an honor. It’s an acknowledgment of a person or a group’s role in driving one of the biggest conversations of the year.

The other people who made the cut include a mayor who’s been drawing attention to the border sewage dilemma for years but who finally got the region — and the nation — to pay close attention, a family that objected to Summer Stephan being handed the role of DA, the women who said “me too” in regard to labor leader Mickey Kasparian before #MeToo was even a thing and more.

Children’s Pool Now Off Limits

“The controversial beach in La Jolla known as Children’s Pool closed Friday for seal pupping season for the second year in a row despite a court ruling last year that found the restrictions illegal,” the U-T reports. It’ll be closed until May.

There’s a dispute over whether the seals need to be protected from people who mistreat them. Taxpayers aren’t in legal jeopardy because the city isn’t ignoring a ruling: An appellate court says the city can block off the Children’s Pool as the situation is worked out in court.

Federal UFO Program Focused on S.D.-Area Incident

News came out over the weekend that for years, the Pentagon had a mysteriously titled “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” that focused on UFOs: “the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift,” the New York Times reports.

One case that got attention: The appearance of UFOs about 100 miles off the San Diego coast in 2004. You can watch some of the incident on a video that’s been made public.

Quick News Hits: The Fur Flies on Ice

A funeral procession for local firefighter Cory Iverson, who was killed last week in the Thomas Fire, traveled Sunday from Ventura County to San Diego County. (NBC 7)

Meanwhile, the devastating Lilac Fire in inland North County has finally been 100 percent contained, per firefighters.

A new state audit says the county’s policies regarding concealed weapon permits haven’t been followed properly. In one case, the U-T reports, “a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department review of a license, prompted by a federal request for information about a licensee, found that staff approved a renewal despite the license-holder’s ‘disturbing and reoccurring pattern of violence.’”

Norman Pattiz, a member of the board of regents of the University of California, is facing allegations that he sexually harassed a comedian during a taping of a podcast. Pattiz, who’s 75, says he’s thinking of resigning but not because of the allegations; he says he’s apologized for what he calls a joke. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, a high-profile local Republican considered endangered on the 2018 ballot, says he’s still a no on massive tax reform because changes “do not go far enough to guarantee tax relief for constituents in my district.”

• The Force was with the local National Weather Service office. (Twitter)

The San Diego Gulls hockey team was scheduled to hold a “Teddy Bear Toss” on Saturday night where attendees would throw plastic-wrapped teddy bears onto the ice. They’d then be donated to charity.

“Teddy bear tosses are Christmas season staples in minor league and junior hockey,” City News Service reports.

Be careful out there, throwers! It’s all fun and games until someone loses a button eye.

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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