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Forgive me for focusing momentarily on Los Angeles, but a confluence of stories this week centered there really drove home the importance of local news.

First, of course, was the heartbreaking death of the incomparable Jonathan Gold. Whatever San Diego felt upon the death of, say, Tony Gwynn, that’s what Los Angeles is feeling now – the loss of someone universally beloved.

In championing all kinds of food made by all kinds of people, Gold’s work revealed stereotypes of Los Angeles as a city defined by glitz and vapidity for what they are: silly, hollow and wrong.

Just two days after Gold’s death, the New York Times ran a piece in its Travel section that once again trotted out those stereotypes, with a dash of elitism and racism. The piece had all the typical clichés: It remarked on the traffic, it suggested no one walks in Los Angeles (many do; of course they do). But then, the writer described stumbling upon Olvera Street, a historic street that is arguably the city’s birthplace, and wrote it off in a single line as “the source of all useless items in the world.” Yeah.

The Times was forced to run an apology, and became, once again, the source of mockery for its cluelessness in writing about California.

Every city or town needs local journalists – people who lift up their communities by singing the praises of their noodles and birria or by investigating local bureaucracies in hopes that they’ll serve people a little better.

Another story this week, also about Los Angeles, highlighted the rise of L.A. Taco, an online news site that began as a food and culture destination but that has more recently rushed to fill a news void, including “stories that weren’t prioritized by other local media, from outing white supremacists for meeting at the Highland Park Brewery in Chinatown to the last days touring the LA Times’ historic headquarters.”

That piece, by the way, was written by Gabe Schneider, who himself helped fill a local news void at UC San Diego when he founded the school’s independent newspaper, the Triton.

The Triton, the Christian Science Monitor noted this week, “has grown from three bloggers to more than 60 editors and writers – predominantly students of color.”

What VOSD Learned This Week

As it prosecutes hundreds of cases against people caught crossing the border illegally, the government is routinely leaving out of court documents the fact that some defendants are seeking asylum in the United States – a fact that could fundamentally alter each case.

VOSD, by the way, has asked the court to make public the government’s brief outlining its reasoning for keeping courts in the dark about asylum requests.

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San Diego Unified has found dangerous lead levels in the water at 11 schools over the past two years. Six of those schools were promised new plumbing in the pitches for previous bond measures. Now the district is promising new plumbing for the schools once again in its latest bond pitch.

Speaking of water problems…

An audit found that the city water department sent out more than 2,000 incorrect bills, and hinted at other problems too.

And finally, another kind of water problem: It turns out the pool at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel is not open to the public, despite a very persistent myth.

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On the “San Diego issues that will never die” front, let’s first turn to density fights …

The new community plan for the Midway area could actually usher in the kind of density and jobs the city says it wants but has failed to provide for in other community plan updates. It’s got to get past Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s concerns about traffic, though.

And now to the Plaza de Panama …

One of the lawsuits challenging the plan will be heard in court next week, and the city worries that dragging things out will only hike costs up further.

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Politics lightning round: The affordable housing bond that advocates say could raise $900 million is being delayed until 2020. Sacramento is grappling with the level of blame utilities deserve for unprecedented wildfires. The Caruso mall project is still haunting Carlsbad politics, years later.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“It wasn’t until 2014 that [Goop] began to resemble the thing it is now, a wellspring of both totally legitimate wellness tips and completely bonkers magical thinking: advice from psychotherapists and advice from doctors about how much Vitamin D to take (answer: a lot! Too much!) and vitamins for sale and body brushing and dieting and the afterlife and crystals and I swear to God something called Psychic Vampire Repellent, which is a ‘sprayable elixir’ that uses ‘gem healing’ to something something ‘bad vibes.’” – You should really read this whole piece on Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop, but if you don’t, this line tells you all you need to know.

Sara Libby

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

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