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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Updating the wildlife killing mystery, the gas price mess, why mayor’s office eludes Dems and a mysterious mural in Mira Mesa.
Gloria Penner, who paved the way for women in the local media and helped turn KPBS into a public-broadcasting powerhouse, died on Saturday at the age of 81. She battled cancer for two years.
Penner worked at the station since 1969. “She believed the struggles of women and minorities, single parents, seniors on fixed incomes and striving members of the working class to be worth our time and attention,” wrote KPBS.
Her last broadcast, as host of “The Midday Edition Roundtable,” came July 20, when our own Keegan Kyle appeared on the show.
Penner began inviting our editors and journalists on her roundtables in 2006 and since then, we’ve been mainstays. She always trumpeted our value to the community and we were deeply grateful to have such a trusted person introduce us to so many San Diegans.
Lewis and Penner moderated a mayoral debate in April. If she was suffering in the throes of cancer treatment, she didn’t let it show.
Lewis called her “the most elegant person in local media. A lot of gravitas in a little frame.”
• “She was a great example to many of us, that you can do what you do in a man’s world without losing your femininity and grace,” public relations consultant Laura Walcher told the U-T.
• “She was timeless in her love of news and public affairs, holding countless politicians accountable, informing generations of San Diegans and inspiring those of us blessed enough to know her,” wrote local journalist Rebecca Tolin, who worked with Penner.
Update: The Mysterious Wildlife Killings
For months, Rob Davis been asking questions about why an obscure and secretive federal agency has killed more than 18,000 wild animals over the past seven years, including songbirds, ducks, flamingos and even an alligator.
And for months, this federal agency has been trying to blow us off.
We aren’t giving up. Davis, our reporter who’s been covering this story, had his last official day on the job Friday. But he’s going to keep on top of this story as a contributor.
Before he bid us farewell, Davis wrote a roundup of what we’ve learned so far and what’s still a mystery.
Many questions remain. Rep. Susan Davis, a local congresswoman, introduced legislation to force the federal agency to be more open. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for records we asked for in May.
• We achieved our to raise $10K the last week Davis was here and, in exchange, like he pledged, Rob gave Voice of San Diego a check equivalent to his last week’s pay. It was a generous and impactful gesture. Thank you to the members new and loyal who made it possible.
Home Prices Rise
Local home prices are up a tick but still near the bottom, reports Rich Toscano. All of his charts, whether the months-old Case Shiller index or the more recent home-resale data, show a trend up.
Why Gas Prices Are Shooting Skyward
The North County Times offers a helpful explainer about what’s going on with local gas prices. “Refinery mishaps and California’s anti-pollution regulations” are to blame, it says.
Sunday the governor ordered regulators to quicken the pace toward the sale of “winter blend” gas.
This type of gas produces more pollution in higher temperatures but is allowed in the winter when things get cooler. Allowing the gas to be sold earlier than Nov. 1 will increase the supply and, presumably, push down prices.
We did a San Diego Explained with NBC 7 San Diego that gets into the fundamentals about why San Diego has particularly high gas prices.
In SD, the Dems Rule… but Not at Ballot Box
Democrats make up 40 percent of registered voters in the city of San Diego compared to 28 percent who are Republicans and 27 percent independents. By those numbers, the Dem in the mayor’s race — Rep. Bob Filner — should win in a cake walk, whatever that is. (Sounds delicious!)
The U-T takes a look at why Democrats have been shut out for so long.
Quick News Hits
• You remember Jason Russell, the creative director of a viral movie that brought so much attention to his group, Invisible Children, that he had a very public mental breakdown in San Diego. He opens up about the incident to the LA Times.
• The LA Times also profiled the very heated race to represent California’s 52nd Congressional District. The race is “competitive, high-spending, and, as a notable San Diegan, the late singer/songwriter Jim Croce, once intoned in a different context, ‘meaner than a junkyard dog.'”
• If you’ve driven on the I-15 recently near Mira Mesa, you may have noticed the big and unusual mural on the side of a building under construction on the west side of the freeway. What is it? Good question, one that folks on the San Diego sub-channel of the reddit.com website are wondering. Check a photo of the mural here and drop me a line if you know anything about it.
• Many of us in the media came to know Gloria Penner not only as a professional but a generous friend. My favorite memory of Penner comes from journalist Wendy Fry via Twitter: “Once when I was very heartbroken, she said: ‘You’ll feel better if you put on some lipstick and go out on the town.'”
Timeless advice from a timeless lady.