To borrow a phrase from the famed TV shrink Dr. Frasier Crane, we’re listening. After all, our name — Voice of San Diego — is all about hearing what people have to say about making our home a better place.

Some voices stand out because they’re especially powerful and influential. We’re honoring them today with a look at 10 of the most important voices of the year:

• Jerry Sanders: The Voice of Big Business: “he has given the business coalition he represents its loudest voice in perhaps a decade.”

• Nicole Tempel Assisi: The Voice for Charter Schools: “It was never Nicole Tempel Assisi’s goal to pick a fight with San Diego Unified. But if the district wanted to tussle, Assisi wasn’t about to back down, either.”

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• Todd Gloria: The Voice for a Progressive San Diego: “Councilman Todd Gloria’s to-do list not only set the political debate, it shaped what post-Filner discourse will look like in San Diego.”

• Ian Campbell: The Voice of Our Vulnerable Arts Scene: “Campbell’s leadership brought [the San Diego Opera’s] difficulties to light, or perhaps exacerbated them.”

• Jane Doe: A Voice for Victims: “the city grappled seriously with officer behavior and the treatment of sexual misconduct victims because of her voice.”

• The Murrieta Protesters: The Voice of Nativists: “a small protest can catalyze a large discussion.”

• Lorena Gonzalez: The Voice of Workers and Women (and Working Women): “Perhaps no one in Sacramento made more waves in 2014 than [Assemblywoman] Gonzalez, who aggressively pushed bills aimed at boosting workers and women.”

• Ed Harris and Marco Gonzalez: The Voices of the Density Debate: “With an improving economy, developers are again looking to build. The city’s promise of a new kind of development is about to be put to the test. As that plays out, its disagreements among the left [including ex-Councilman Harris and environmental attorney Gonzalez] that will be most interesting to watch.”

So who’d we miss? Make the case for a glaring omission and we’ll include it in a follow-up post later this week. Email your suggestion to Deputy Editor Catherine Green.

The Voice of the Year: SeaWorld Agitators

Armed with outrage and media savvy, the SeaWorld protesters have turned animal captivity into one of today’s top moral issues: “Whether they get their way or not, the concessions SeaWorld has already made, the hits its bottom line has shouldered and the debate that raged for the better part of the year makes the SeaWorld agitators 2014′s Voice of the Year.”

VOSD Radio: Minimum Wage’s Discontents

In the latest episode of the VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast, our hosts talk with a UCSD professor whose research into the effects of the minimum wage provides fodder for critics who say boosting it would actually hurt workers. Also on the show: the hurdles in the way of a new stadium, some impacts of the California Environmental Quality Act and the Padres.

Commentary: Environmental Law Can Be Saved

Livia Borak, an environmentalist and attorney at Coast Law Group, made waves recently by wondering if the wildly popular water playground at the County Administration Building should be shut down because of the drought. Now, in a VOSD commentary, she says the state’s environmental protection law can be fixed, showcasing its role as “a way to force local agencies to get serious about tackling one of our greatest environmental challenges: climate change.”

• Saturday’s Morning Report misstated the job title of Jim Whalen, who wrote a VOSD commentary about reforming California environmental law. He’s principal at J. Whalen Associates, a project management and development firm, and was appointed to the San Diego Planning Commission earlier this year.

S.D.’s Not-So-Shadowy Prostitution Rings

A new L.A. Times story starts this way: “It began with teachers and counselors becoming suspicious. The same teenage girls were often absent from their classes on Fridays and Mondays. When they came to school, they wore flashy jewelry and provocative clothing and often carried more than one cellphone. Sometimes they had visible bruises.”

Authorities say the girls were part of a huge prostitution ring in Spring Valley and Lemon Grove, reflecting a growing problem of gangs getting into prostitution and recruiting women and girls. “The San Diego region, for reasons that are unclear, appears to be a dubious leader in this new trend,” the Times says.

A prosecutor tells the paper that the women and girls don’t think of themselves as victims: “They have been so traumatized, they want to believe this is a choice they’ve made willingly. They live in an altered reality.”

Quick News Hits

• Our story about Mission Valley’s congested future was the most popular on our site last week. Check the full Top 10 list here.

• In Saturday’s Morning Report, we included an incorrect link to a story about how the All-Star Game may return to San Diego.

• Earlier this year, a Vista chinchilla rancher sued PETA, the animal rights group, saying it had defamed her by saying she ran a “fur farm” and mistreated animals. The rancher has since died at the age of 90, but her lawsuit lives on – perhaps for not much longer: A judge has ruled that her comments to a TV station converted her from a private person to a public figure with fewer rights to protect herself from being defamed. (U-T)

• The Washington Post analyzes last week’s news of a pending sale of San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods and finds that the American canned tuna industry is about to be “pretty much entirely Asian-owned.” If the deal goes through — and regulators might stop it — Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea (now a sister company with Bumble Bee) and Starkist would all be owned by Asian companies.

Still a mystery: What bumble bees have to do with tuna.

• A new North Park restaurant calls itself “StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee,” San Diego Eater reports.

Good gravy! Is there any restaurant in San Diego with a longer name? Drop me a line if you know one. I’ll mention you in tomorrow’s Morning Report and allow you to buy me fried chicken, doughnuts and coffee. No charge for the heartburn!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Randy Dotinga

    Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter: