On our latest podcast episode, we joked about how hard it is to come up with a “hero” each week – it’s not in our nature to be effusive with praise or to dwell on things that are working just fine.
Then Anthony Bourdain died, and in reading each wonderful tribute to him – and learning how he quietly arranged for a young boy with cancer to go on a culinary trip through Spain, how he stuck up for and befriended the food critic who wrote an earnest review of the Olive Garden, how he used food to celebrate sitting down at a table with people who were much different than he was – all I wished was that I’d been able to enjoy those stories for any reason other than to mark his death.
So, here goes. I’m gonna say some nice things.
The members of the SANDAG board sure were angry that Andy Keatts reported on a development from closed session – that Mayor Kevin Faulconer led a move to effectively veto an internal pick to lead SANDAG. But since it did get out, let me say that I’ve given Faulconer some grief in this column for being reticent to lead and to make big decisions, and he did both with this move.
Similarly, while I stand by my critique of the times the Union-Tribune’s editorial board has declined to editorialize, it’s also worth pointing out that their in-depth interviews with every candidate leading up to the primary election were invaluable, and their recent editorials in which they do take hard stands are great – particularly this one in which they take the San Diego Unified school board to task for its attempts to dodge accountability.
While it looks like Sara Jacobs came up short in her bid for Congress, I thought her response to her opponents’ critiques of her money was subtly brilliant: “We know it takes resources to run,” Jacobs said. “There was a calculation that if we wanted a woman in the race, it had to be someone who had resources to bring to the campaign, and I am fortunate that I am able to do that.” I hope more smart young women, no matter their level of resources, will follow her lead and take the plunge into a race.
Finally, there’s my pal Andy Keatts. The local chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists announced this week that he’s the pick for Journalist of the Year. While it’s far more fun to make fun of Andy for his bad takes, it’s also pretty fun to watch your colleagues be recognized for their hard work and efforts to shine a light on wrongdoing. Andy got an entire region to care about the bureaucratic inner workings of a little-known transit and planning agency. It takes a pretty special kind of journalist to do that.
What VOSD Learned This Week
This is the first time in a long time that we broke so much non-election news during the week of an election. Soak it all in.
First, that election. We did a big rundown of it all on the podcast, with some help from Carol Kim and Ryan Clumpner.
The marquee contest of the primary didn’t end up being much of a contest – San Diegans spoke pretty decisively about the DA’s race.
Then there are the two races in which the outcome was a mystery headed into Election Day: the 49th District Congressional race, and the District 4 race for county supervisor. In the former, two well-known candidates ended up performing badly, perhaps because of their respective veers to the right and left. In the latter, the field got narrowed down to a race between Bonnie Dumanis and Nathan Fletcher, a contest that could get intense and bitter. Fletcher managed to survive the same barrage of attacks that sunk him in two previous contests, largely because this time around, he had labor on his side.
One of the big surprises of Tuesday’s primary was how relatively poorly Council President Myrtle Cole performed. But given what voters in her district told us on Election Day, maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising after all.
Like I said, the amount of non-election political news this week was substantive and surprising. That includes:
- The revelation that some members of the SANDAG board used their newfound power to veto a potential new agency director
- A glimpse at the heartbreak and intense strain continuing to play out as a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zero-tolerance approach to illegal border crossings
- A behind-the-scenes look at how water officials and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration jockeyed to close a deal on the twin tunnels project before a potential Gov. Gavin Newsom could kill it
Arts District Liberty Station sits on city-owned property, yet members of the public and the artists who rent space there say they have virtually no say over how the space develops.
What I’m Reading
- Voters in Santa Clara County recalled Judge Aaron Persky this week after he gave an incredibly lenient sentence to a young, white Stanford athlete who committed sexual assault. This stunning piece delves into the effort to oust Persky. (Highline)
- Just say it’s racist. (The Atlantic)
- How Kate Spade became wildly successful by indulging both whimsy and calculation. (Racked)
- This time of year, I am all about reading inspiring stories on young graduates. I got a little weepy reading about this incredible young woman who finished one of her Harvard Law School finals while in labor last year, and who, as a single mother, just received her diploma. Ditto for this story about one of the members of the Jena 6 case who just graduated as valedictorian of his law school class at the University of Washington. (Boston Globe, New Orleans Times-Picayune)
- Peeling back the curtain on President Donald Trump’s brazen attempt to publicly discredit the Mueller investigation. (Time)
Line of the Week
“Remember when you asked me if I was a feminist, and I was afraid to say yes? Write this down: I’m a fuckin’ feminist.” – Every single Anthony Bourdain remembrance I’ve read has been full of quotes and revelations like this one – brash, glittering and powerful.