Sara Libby, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts hosting a live episode of the Voice of San Diego Podcast.

This week, Voice of San Diego is celebrating its 15th anniversary at an event at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

We’ll be pulling out plenty of our best stories, and our biggest, most impactful investigations over the next couple months as we celebrate this anniversary, but I wanted to highlight a few things that have stuck out to me over the eight years I’ve been here.

We’ve done so many investigations focused on public safety, but Liam Dillon’s investigation into emergency response times sticks out for an important reason. No one was talking about the fact that ambulances arrived to treat San Diegans in lower-income neighborhoods much slower than they arrived to treat others; then, suddenly, everyone was.

The story became a major issue in the subsequent mayor’s race, and after years of inaction, city leaders began pursuing solutions like two-person emergency response crews and a new fire station. Before this job, I spent several years covering politics – much of which was reactive. Someone gave a speech, you covered it. Voters went to the polls, you covered it. This piece was transformative for me: Journalists who reveal important information can be the ones dictating the conversation instead of the other way around.

Speaking of proactivity …

The VOSD crew was enjoying our summer staff party. We’d taken the day off and were hanging out at the beach. But Liam (I begrudgingly admit that many of my formative VOSD moments include Liam) got a head’s up about a big development in a case we’d been following closely in which an SDPD officer shot an unarmed man and failed to activate his body-worn camera. He and I raced back to the office in our shorts and flip-flops, and worked furiously to get a story up.

A private business had captured the shooting on its security camera, but the city persuaded a judge to put that footage under seal.

We decided to challenge that decision. Eventually, most of the major media outlets in town joined our effort. A judge agreed to unseal the records, over the objections of the city and then-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

It was our first major effort to access public records via the courts. Since then, we’ve aggressively fought for records from the city, local law enforcement agencies and school districts across the county. Those records have formed the backbone of some of our biggest and best investigations. This case taught us that putting up a fight is often worth it.

Finally, I want to talk about a handful of stories that probably aren’t going to make any lists of our best or most important pieces. But they’re a big part of what makes Voice of San Diego so special. That is, we have a lot of fun.

This piece Mario Koran wrote ranking San Diego Unified’s hilariously, absurdly bad visual aids is hands-down one of the best things I’ve ever read and still makes me laugh-cry no matter how many times I read it. We fact-checked Scott Sherman’s claim that he’s not a politician with this piece that clocked in at just three words: “Yes, he is.” And we rated politicians’ embarrassing tendency to do photo ops in which they fill potholes themselves.

We also, for some reason, created a newsletter in which the managing editor sends people links every Sunday to articles about Drake and tacos. You’re welcome.

What VOSD Learned This Week

It’s crunch time, fam. You’ve got less than two weeks to decide how to vote in the March primary. Dig in.

The debacle over problems at 101 Ash St., a building that was supposed to house city workers but has been plagued with asbestos issues, has spilled into the mayor’s race. (A city official resigned over the scandal this week, by the way.) Elsewhere in the mayor’s race, Andy Keatts explains how Assemblyman Todd Gloria repaired his relationship with local labor unions.

Over in the race for the District 3 seat on the County Board of Supervisors, we did podcast interviews with the two Democratic candidates, Olga Diaz and Terra Lawson Remer. Republican Supervisor Kristin Gaspar declined our interview request.

Then there are the measures and propositions on your ballot: Ashly McGlone wrote a great explanation of Prop. 13, the only statewide measure on the ballot. It’s a school construction bond, but despite the promises being made about new projects it will help build, the money will almost certainly also go toward paying off projects that have already been built.

And Lisa Halverstadt continues to vet and explain Measure C. She dug into five big claims being made about the measure.

Finally, the presidential race (sort of). Lots of journalists have taken note of Otay Mesa businessman Roque de la Fuente’s many campaigns for various offices over the years. But none until now have delved into a simultaneous effort of his: lots of lawsuits intended to expand access to the ballot for outsider candidates.


Non-election news exists, too: The Sweetwater Union High School District is considering 200 layoffs, closures to learning centers and moving librarians into full-time teaching roles as it deals with its ongoing budget crisis.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“She raged, she stormed, she name-checked, she dismissed, she claimed the most time, she did all the things female candidates are not supposed to do. … The revolution really was televised.” – I really like this approach of having a TV critic write up the latest presidential debate.

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

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