Kristin Gaspar appears at Golden Hall on Election Night 2016. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Rep. Darrell Issa, the firebrand North County Republican who’s the richest member of Congress and among the most high profile, is retiring ahead of a possible defeat later this year. Now, there’s a free-for-all to replace him among both Democrats and Republicans, after he just barely squeaked to victory in 2016.

The newest name to join the scrum is Kristin Gaspar, the former Encinitas mayor who recently joined the county board of supervisors after vanquishing its scandal-plagued sole Democrat. As our reporter Jesse Marx reports in a new story, her decision to join the race is “likely to split GOP loyalties in San Diego and Orange counties.”

That’s because Issa’s district straddles parts of North County and southern Orange County. Other well-known Republicans in the hunt include Assemblyman Rocky Chávez and state Board of Equalization chair Diane Harkey. Four Democrats are also squaring off in the June primary.

• The U-T looked into financial reports and finds that two Democratic hopefuls in this race are mighty wealthy.

The Ultimate Guide to One Nasty Flu Season

You may have heard this is the worst flu season in San Diego’s history. It isn’t. But it’s still remarkably bad, with sick people overwhelming hospitals and nursing homes isolating patients in their rooms to keep the virus from spreading.

I’ve put together a Q&A-style guide about the flu that answers big questions that may be on your mind: How bad is it? (142 people have died, the largest number in at least 20 years). Who’s dying? (Mostly, but not entirely, the elderly). Is there really a Tamiflu shortage? (Sort of, and it may cost you.)

Also: How doctor’s offices are responding, why things are so bad this year, what a flu shot can do for you now and more. Plus: Learn how San Diego responded when a worldwide flu pandemic hit the city back in 1919, killing hundreds (including the young and healthy) and sparking a familiar debate about public safety vs. private profits.

Filner Emerges, As Does Another Alleged Victim

Is it time to forgive Bob Filner?” asks the U-T Ideas section in a tweet.


Wait, there’s more? OK, let’s read on. “What the disgraced ex-mayor of San Diego says he wants from the #MeToo movement is a path to redemption.”

The tweet links to a U-T story recapping a new radio interview in which the former San Diego mayor says men who have sexually harassed or assaulted women deserve a way to get back into society’s good graces.

“I think as we get through this and the ‘Me Too’ movement does have a powerful effect, that we have to get also a sort of a balance where there is due process, where if people do work hard to change, there is some redemption, there is some forgiveness,” he said.

Former KPBS reporter Katie Orr, now with San Francisco’s KQED, subsequently disclosed that she herself was sexually harassed by Filner. She spoke with a radio host about his new comments: “My reaction was, ‘what about the women that you hurt?’ You say you’re sorry, and I believe that he is sorry, but I guess I’m just not forgiving enough.’”

Environment Report: Dry Year Isn’t a Dire Disaster

It hasn’t rained much over the last few weeks, and you may be wondering if this could spell another drought. Here’s the good news: “there are a few reasons that a dry year may not be so bad, all things being equal,” our reporter Ry Rivard explains in this week’s Environment Report.

Why? For a few reasons that are unique to 2018. Rainfall poses special mudslide dangers in the Santa Barbara area because of the fires there, and Northern California’s Oroville Dam is still vulnerable. (Remember the near-disaster it faced last year?) And there’s still a lot of water saved up from last winter.

Also in the Environment Report: The Padres are going solar big-time, Imperial Beach is hoping that somebody somewhere will hear its anti-offshore drilling plea, and our environmental reporter goes to Death Valley, where he snapped a photo of the “Devil’s Golf Course.”

Quick News Hits: Brown-Nosing 101, 1928-Style

• The federal government shutdown is over… for now. Stay tuned for a possible next episode of the shutdown sweepstakes in just over two weeks. (AP)

• Perhaps taking a page from San Diego, where authorities have tried to roust the homeless from downtown streets, officials in Orange County are clearing out the most visible areas where the homeless  live — along the Santa Ana River’s banks. Just like here, there are big questions about where the homeless are supposed to go. (L.A. Times)

• Medi-Cal, the state insurance program for the poor, has restored dental coverage it had cut for 9 years. (KPBS)

• Poway Councilman Jim Cunningham says he’s quitting his seat early for personal reasons, but he’s giving plenty of notice: He’ll leave in June. He’s still got three years left in his third term.

The timing of his departure will prevent a council appointment and instead allow voters to replace him. The U-T says he focused on needs in areas like local sports and the disabled. He wasn’t able, however, to achieve his goal of getting housing for veterans built in the city.

• “Reefer Madness, meet Main Street Mary Jane,” says a sentence in a new U-T story.

Um… Go on?

The article is about how the legalization of pot is changing the relationship between cops and weed sellers and users.

• The U-T is celebrating the 150th anniversary of The San Diego Union. This week, the paper posted a front page from 1928 featuring stories about Charles Lindbergh, Vladimir Lenin, Al Capone… and Col. Ira C. Copley, an Illinois newspaper man who’d just bought the Union and its sister paper, The Evening Tribune.

The Copley family went on to own the two papers for most of the 20th century until a merger in 1992 and recession fire sale by publisher David Copley in 2009.

The Union greeted Copley’s purchase (from a Spreckels investment company) with some heroic kissing-up: “it signalizes a large investment inspired by faith in San Diego’s future, and it heralds a type of investment that will assuredly have a tremendous influence upon the city’s growth and its development… thus informally we bespeak San Diego’s warm welcome to this new investor in the city’s future.”

Journalists being what they are, we can be sure that some in the Union’s newsroom chortled over all this signalizing and bespeaking before getting back to the work of separating truth from fiction.

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

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