Andrea Witkowski, 27, at home, in San Diego, with her dog. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

In November 2016, state voters approved a measure that legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and let thousands of local convicted criminals off the hook.

The district attorney’s staff decided to prepare for that and now hundreds of people have qualified to have their records cleared or offenses lowered significantly.

Our Jesse Marx wanted to know how that all worked and how it was going for someone it affected. He found Andrea Witkowski, whose story began with the sounds of the door of her Ocean Beach cottage being beaten down with a battering ram.

Her experience almost perfectly reveals how unclear California’s legal approach to medical marijuana was before the new law.

Marx also clarifies just how the effort is proceeding and why the district attorney’s office prioritized getting ahead of this wave of redress.

Politics Report: Hunter in Trouble, ‘Papa Doug’ Unplugged

East County’s Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, in the fight of political life. This week’s VOSD Politics Report checks in the latest, including news that he’s at the tipping point of losing Republican support. Former San Diego Councilman and almost-mayor and almost-congressman Carl DeMaio might jump into the race, and a prominent local GOP consultant says she’s has had it with Hunter’s shenanigans: “This just continues to be outrageous and embarrassing. He should have resigned with some dignity a long time ago.”

There’s more on the Hunter front, First, as the U-T shows, here’s a pro-tip for politicians: Take a page from Gary Hart (just Google him, youngsters) and don’t give journalists a challenge that won’t make you look good if they take you up on it.

Second, Hunter is mentioned prominently in a new Politico story titled “The Frat House of Representatives.” Here’s one heck of a paragraph: “A federal grand jury has been hearing testimony from former staffers and subpoenaed Hunter’s family — Duncan Hunter Sr., is a former member — about allegations that his campaign funds were used for personal meals, his children’s schooling and flying a pet rabbit cross-country, among other things. Hunter has pointed the finger at his own wife for campaign spending problems, but his relationships with women in Washington — including in his own office — have also come up in the interrogations.”

In other congressional race news, the U-T reported that the state Democratic party will not endorse one of the five Dems running in the race to replace Rep. Darrell Issa, meaning they “will campaign without the party’s backing, resources or seal of approval.”

‘Papa Doug’ Apologized in Public, But in Private…

Also in the VOSD Politics Report: A few words you haven’t yet heard from Doug Manchester and John Lynch, the former owner and CEO of the Union-Tribune.

Manchester, a Trump ally whose ambassadorship to the Bahamas is delayed, faced an avalanche of bad press when The Washington Post and the U-T itself explored allegations Manchester encouraged a “toxic” atmosphere of sexism and boorish behavior at the paper. I summarized the main takeaways from the Post and U-T stories in a VOSD story last week.

Manchester told the Post that he apologized “to any employee who felt uncomfortable or demeaned while employed at the UT San Diego during my tenure.” But, as we discovered, he was much more feisty in an email that he sent to pals in which he rips the “Trump-hating” Post reporter.

Meanwhile, I heard from Lynch over the weekend when he let me know about an error in my story. (My story initially said the Washington Post reported that the U-T paid a settlement to an employee who claimed sexual harassment by Lynch. In fact, the Post reported Lynch said the woman alleged that he “sent her inappropriate texts inviting her to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration and that Manchester offered unwanted hugs.”)

The Politics Report includes an excerpt of his email, in which he says “I can hold my head high that we conducted ourselves with 100% professionalism.”

As the Politics Report notes, U-T Editor Jeff Light would surely disagreer.

Quick News Hits: Whaddya Call the Corner Store?

Local public health officials, who’ve had quite a wild six months with the giant hepatitis A and flu outbreaks, are sounding the alarm about the spread of whooping cough (aka pertussis) in babies: “They are warning that, if historical patterns hold, 2018 could see epidemic levels of the highly contagious respiratory disease that is particularly deadly for the youngest among us,” the U-T reports. Vaccinations in babies are helpful, but it’s even more important for pregnant mothers to get vaccinated.

Francisco Cantú, a writer and former Border Patrol officer, is out with a new book that I call “an intense and captivating memoir of dreams, divisions, and death at the border” in a Christian Science Monitor article. For the story, I interviewed Cantú, who tells me that “I did a lot of soul-searching and grappling with the violent nature of the work I’d done and my culpability within a larger system. Part of that was looking at all the ways I lent parts of myself to support policies that feel violent or inhumane.”

Have you ever looked closely at the mural at the D.Z. Akins, the Jewish deli in the College Area? I mean really looked it? (Click on the links in the last two sentences and you’ll see what I mean.)

“Just eat your hamantaschen & pipe down,” replied political activist Ashley Harrington via Twitter when I pointed out the mural’s weirdness. Never!

L.A. Times columnist Gustavo Arellano has a message for the N.Y. Times, which has spent many decades trying — with mixed success — to understand the Golden State without making a mockery of itself: “Dear @nytimes reporters writing about California: FOR THE TRILLIONTH TIME, WE DON’T CALL THEM BODEGAS HERE.”

He’s referring to what we might call a convenience store or a liquor store, although he was told that there are stores in our own South Bay called La Bodega and La Bodeguita.

One Twitter user would have none of it: “Well if you don’t like it just get on I405 and leave.”

I405? We know of no such thing here in California, where it’s the 405 and the 805, although actually we might refer to the 5 as “I-5,” but “I-8” would sound weird and… oh man, this is making my head hurt. Anyone want to get me an aspirin from the bodega?

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:

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.