Morning Report: A Hoarder's Story

Morning Report

Morning Report: A Hoarder's Story

Behind a big cleanup in Mount Hope, mayor vs. governor battle is
on, San Diego’s veterans and SD past for a ‘Pawn Star.’

Except for a few missing ingredients, the scene at a Mount Hope house the other day could have come from a reality show about hoarders.

There was a clean-up crew, TV cameras and a dilapidated property full of junk. The city, as is often the case around the country, had enough of a hoarder’s unsightly and possibly unhealthy stash of stuff. A judge agreed: it had to go.

But there was no perky but persistent organizer on scene to help put things back together. Nor was there a shrink to help the hoarder cope. (Many hoarders are mentally ill, and some turn to possessions to fill holes in their hearts.) In this case, the hoarder stayed away while his wife tried to deal with the cleanup and the aftermath.

Neighborhood reporter Adrian Florido talked to her and learned how a romance born at a downtown bus stop in 1967 came to this.

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Gov vs. Mayor

With an eye on wooing those who support efforts to help the poor, Mayor Jerry Sanders and a couple City Council allies rallied the troops yesterday to oppose the governor’s plans to stop subsidizing urban-renewal projects. Their message: redevelopment doesn’t just help build football stadiums and downtown skyscrapers. It also helps run-down neighborhoods.

The governor’s office was not impressed. “The mayor is moving to lock up local property tax dollars and shortchange the schools, the police, the sheriff and emergency medical assistance for the most vulnerable,” a spokesman said.

In other City Hall news, Councilman Carl DeMaio said in a speech last night that he wants city pension reform on the ballot in 2012, the U-T reports. He said city employees shouldn’t get better retirement benefits than the average taxpayer.

Numbers May Not Add Up for Hospital Chain

It’s not unheard of for seniors to suffer from malnutrition when they’re hospitalized: they don’t eat properly or their bodies can’t process food. But it’s not common either. In 2009, only about one in 20 seniors at 13 local hospitals suffered from malnutrition.

Then there was Paradise Valley Hospital in National City. Physicians there diagnosed malnutrition in 36 percent of senior patients. There could be a variety of reasons for that, but consider this: the numbers are high across the state at hospitals run by the chain that owns Paradise Valley (and now owns Alvarado Hospital too).

California Watch, an investigative reporting outfit, discovered the discrepancy. The chain is already being investigated over whether it bumped up the number of cases of an infection in seniors in order to send higher bills to Medicare.

Where the Veterans Are:

County Supervisor Bill Horn declared this month that San Diego is home to more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than any other place in the country. San Diego Fact Check wondered if that could be true. It is.

We’ve got more veterans of those two wars in our county — at least about 29,000 — than any other in the United States.

Why does it matter? For one thing, high numbers can mean that veteran’s hospitals need to serve more people. And, as data reporter Keegan Kyle explains, “A growing population with wartime injuries and mental health problems can place greater pressure on county social services and law enforcement, who ultimately serve as the last line of support.”

’Appy to Meet Your Pothole

As we discovered last year, even if the city is willing to fix your local neighborhood pothole, communication between you and the municipal computer system may screw things up. Now, Councilman DeMaio says he’s working to offer mobile phone software — an “app” — that will allow residents to take photos of potholes and send them to the city, complete with GPS location information. The app will allow the reporting of graffiti and broken streetlights too.

South Bay Principal Open to Salary Cuts

A principal at a high school in Otay Mesa says he and others are willing to take pay cuts to save the jobs of four instructors, the U-T says. If the instructors are laid off, the average class size at Montgomery High will grow from 31 to 34 students.

“In my 24 years of education, I have never seen a teacher released due to their ineffectiveness,” the principal said, touching on the continuing debate over how difficult it is to get rid of bad teachers. “To lose some of the people who work the most or are effective, that’s just not right.” He added: “There’s 10 percent unemployment in California and people are taking cuts, but we have not.”

Services for SD’s Appeal Court Judge

Services are set this weekend for David R. Thompson, the longtime San Diegan and Point Loma High graduate who became a judge on the Ninth Circuit court of appeals in 1985. He unexpectedly died on Saturday at the age of 80. The U-T says his grandfather was an attorney a century ago, and his father was a Superior Court judge. Thompson’s brother is Gordon Thompson Jr., a well-known local federal judge.

A False and a Mostly True

San Diego Fact Check TV uncovers a councilman’s whopper and checks a claim that unemployment in National City has been amazingly high.

Two Old Men (One Who’s Dirty)

Hugh Hefner’s fiancée and ex-La Jolla High student Crystal Harris tells the New Yorker (under the headline “Something Old, Something New”) how she met America’s most famous dirty old man. (The story is so dry that you might want to put on some Chapstick before reading it.)

Harris took a trip two years ago up to the Playboy Mansion from San Diego State University, where she was a student. Dressed as a French maid for a Halloween party, she caught Hefner’s eye. Now, “she is recording an album, developing a makeup brand, and designing a line of workout clothes,” the article says. “She tweets frequently.”

Finally, a North Carolina newspaper notes the San Diego background of Richard Benjamin Harrison, better known as “The Old Man” on the hit reality show “Pawn Stars” about deals at a pawn shop in Las Vegas. Harrison served in the Navy and lived here afterward, buying and selling real estate until he went bust.

His son, fellow pawnster Rick, has a San Diego connection too: the show has revealed that he’s a big fan of the Bolts. Great. Now, Alex Spanos knows just where to go if he wants to pawn the team.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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