Kelvin Barrios, candidate for San Diego City Council, appears at Golden Hall on election night. / Photo by Megan Wood

For a short time, we played around on the podcast with a segment we called “That Happened.”

Here’s an example:

“Remember when a developer responded to criticism of its project by announcing it would hire robots to walk children to school? That happened. This has been today in That Happened.”

Here are a few others we came up with.

A VOSD reporter once asked someone why she voted that day. The woman literally ran away screaming, “I don’t know the issues!!” That happened.

Remember when the school district justified its acquisition of an armed tank by saying it planned to use the vehicle to … distribute teddy bears? That happened.

The point, of course, is to highlight the more baffling and absurd moments in San Diego’s civic discourse. A far darker one could be:

Multiple men credibly claimed that Kevin Beiser sexually harassed or assaulted them. Local leaders universally called on Beiser to step down. Then he just … kept right on serving on the school board, where he remains, in the midst of one of the worst crises to ever face public education. That happened.

I bring this up because it feels like we could be veering toward another absurd That Happened.

Kelvin Barrios, the candidate for the District 9 City Council seat, has already acknowledged having misspent funds during a school board campaign for which he was a consultant, and during his time as treasurer for the California Young Democrats Latino Caucus.

Voice of San Diego has also discovered that Barrios did not disclose income he earned before starting his City Hall job, that he worked with the Laborers union that now employs him when he was still a City Hall staffer – another potential violation – and that he did not disclose his overlapping public- and private-sector pay. The Union-Tribune has also raised questions about a $21,000 personal loan to Barrios’ campaign.

All of those revelations eventually led his supporters to start fleeing, and Barrios announced this week he was “suspending” his campaign.

It turns out, though, that doesn’t mean much.

Barrios has since told the Union-Tribune that he might still serve if voters elect him in November, since he’ll still be on the ballot.

So, here it is, a potential exclusive preview of a future podcast segment:

A candidate was shown to have committed numerous ethics violations, San Diego voters elected him anyway and he took the job after saying he was suspending his campaign. That happened.

What VOSD Learned This Week

POLITIFEST HAPPENED! (This is a non-absurd “that happened.”) Check out our YouTube playlist of many of the sessions you might have missed.


The saga of the mayor’s indoor skydiving facility-turned-homeless navigation center keeps getting worse. Now, the nonprofit running the facility has pulled out early and slammed the whole project as a PR stunt. We talked about the long-running drama over the facility on this week’s podcast.


Before the president revealed he’d tested positive for coronavirus, we’d laid out the many ways in which the virus was wreaking havoc locally: An outbreak has impacted City Hall and forced elected officials into quarantine. Key decisions helped fuel the spread of the virus within the downtown federal jail. And new records expose a lack of medical expertise within nursing homes, which have been devastated by the virus.


We got more details this week about San Diego Unified’s “phase one” of reopening.


Bill signings and vetoes are officially done, so I rounded up the winners and losers from a truly bizarre legislative season. Meanwhile, one state ballot measure keeps tripping up local Democrats – and Sen. Ben Hueso officially flipped his position on it. Speaking of state ballot measures, you can see my Politifest rundown of all 12 of them here.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.” – As someone who has spent the last six months trying to figure out dinner every night while *gestures wildly* all this is happening, this piece hit me hard.

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

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