What we learned this week


A view of the San Diego skyline / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Next week we’ll be releasing a weeklong series on what’s known as the San Diego Specials – a term coined by Mayor Todd Gloria to refer to a particular brand of civic dilemma that’s been allowed to escalate here.

One thing that defines some of these long-standing problems is their smallness. We’re not talking about racism, climate change, or homelessness – we’re talking about vacation rentals.

When Tasha Williamson said in a town hall debate in 2019, “We talk about scooters and bikes so passionately, but I can’t get the cops to stop killing people,” she unwittingly wrote the tagline perfect for the San Diego Special.

The fact that relatively trivial problems get a lot more bandwidth than they deserve, but still can’t be fixed, has been one of the most frustrating features of San Diego civic affairs in the nine years that I went to Voice of San Diego.

Likewise, there have been many attempts to seriously tackle the issues that to do deserve a priority – police misconduct, educational inequalities, individual failures of some politicians – often meet not with a willingness to tackle difficult problems, but with disgust. for any kind of discord. Call it San Diego Nice. It is a dedication to politeness to the detriment of progress.

A big exception to this trend, however, is Voice of San Diego itself.

It was my last week as VOSD editor, and this is my last column. I’m excited to start a new job as a political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle (and even more so to let myself stay in San Diego).

But I’m also absolutely terrified – precisely because VOSD’s refusal to comply with San Diego Niceness, its mandate to cause discomfort to those who need it most, is what has made it such a wonderful place to be. journalist and such an asset to this city.

So many instances in which the city has been forced to grapple with its most horrific problems and most distressing truths have happened because VOSD reporters have made them impossible to ignore. San Diego Unified for years swept the transgressions of teachers like Martin Teachworth into a literal closet, until VOSD blew up the closet doors. For years, the San Diego Police have punished people who spoke in ways they didn’t like; but after VOSD wrote about it, the law was gone within weeks.

One truism I’ve seen repeat itself throughout the pandemic is the idea that it’s okay to disagree. If I had to translate this at the civic level, it would be: it’s good to want much better than to be the “most beautiful” city.

While I won’t be leaving San Diego, I won’t cover it in nearly the same way. So I leave you with this last plea.

Don’t settle for leaders who climb the top ranks of state government and remain neutral, fearing that they will tip the boat and lose power. Or for those who will not speak candidly about the most pressing issues of the day while presenting themselves as the answer to the problems of the state. Remember that there remain in power leaders credibly accused of harassment and abuse, officials who cavalierly joked about the murder of journalists and public lawyers who tried to slash the public records law. . If you are progressive, don’t let the fact that many of these people are Democrats excuse these totally anti-progressive acts.

What VOSD Learned This Week

After six years of reporting on the police murder of Fridoon Nehad, I wrote about secrecy and the information that defined the case at every turn. We covered the case on this week’s podcast.

In other legal news, legitimate marijuana stores are challenging unlicensed dispensaries in a new lawsuit.


Policy news: Civic Center Plaza deal lenders push back on city file. Ammar Campa-Najjar is running for mayor of Chula Vista. And the Vietnamese population of San Diego is booming – and looking to harness its power in this round of redistribution.


Children are going back to school and the policies guiding who should quarantine and in what scenarios are almost unintelligible. Meanwhile, San Diego Unified is being applauded for the rollout of Universal Transitional Kindergarten, but many parents are seeing the classes are full.

What i read

Line of the week

“Everyone loves an underdog, even when it’s a cat.” – I love this piece on cats making their way on the field during Major League Baseball games.

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