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Morning Report: The Lighter Side (Yes, There Was One) of 2017

Shops suffer in absence of the Chargers, a look back at 2017's great local journalism, inside the new legal marijuana era, Lyft's favorite places to eat and drink, and an original California vegan has its moment in the (prehistoric) sun.

In this first Morning Report of 2018, I wanted to wish all readers a happy New Year.

We met our fundraising goals for the year and have already begun some interesting planning sessions for 2018. We have a mandate to do more, do better and reach more people. Thank you so much to those who donated in this final push and our many other donors.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the news industry these days. Nobody knows exactly how it will pan out or the best way to protect and improve the kind of reporting we all value. But I do know that having the support of thousands of San Diegans — each pressing us to do the most intelligent, interesting and entertaining work we can do — means we’re on the right path.

Here’s to a prosperous, productive and peaceful 2018.

— Scott Lewis, Editor in Chief

♦♦♦

The year 2017 is behind us now, with many of us bidding it a not-so-fond farewell. But the year wasn’t all bad. It was also just plain wacky.

Remember when a 7-Eleven near City Heights was seen as one of the horsemen of the gentrification apocalypse? Or the time a local congressman referred to the president as a certain evocative body part, but clarifying that at least he’s “our” body part? You may also recall the reader who used these words — “the whole construct artfully captures the internal conflict felt by Man in the face of crumbling societal norms” — to describe an especially nasty East Village pothole.

I compiled these comments and several others for “A Look Back at 2017’s Wackiest Quotes.” You’ll read about the famously terrible Jack in the Box taco (“a wet envelope of cat food”), a dustup over the Confederacy at Mimi’s Cafe, the year’s most peculiar 911 callers and more. Take a look here.

Chargers Bail, and Shops Suffer

The Chargers are gone and the economy overall in San Diego brushed off the loss just fine. That doesn’t mean the loss went unnoticed economically.

“Specific small businesses that relied on the Chargers — sports bars, apparel stores, catering businesses, and a meat market — say they’ve been hit with hefty losses since the team skipped town,” reports our contributing writer Jonah Valdez.

One South Bay sports store chain lost about 30 percent of its business, forcing it to close a second location. Another South Bay store reports a sales slump of 25 percent and is evolving its focus to other teams (the Aztecs and the Chargers archival, the Raiders) and street wear.

Highlighting 2017’s Best Journalism About S.D.

Earlier, we looked back at our own favorite stories that we’ve written and at memorable images snapped by VOSD photographers. Now, we’re looking outward at the fine journalism produced by other news outlets about San Diego in 2017.

Click here to read the compilation that I put together of articles and images. The highlighted stories, from local news organizations and outlets based thousand of miles away, tackle topics that matter to us such as the border, questionable government ethics, law enforcement misconduct, education outrages and much more.

The Pot Picture for Calif. in 2018

Crowds lined up at some of the 10 authorized cannabis stores across the city of San Diego as it became legal on Jan. 1 to sell marijuana and related products to adults over the age of 21.

There used to be a robust medical marijuana infrastructure on the spectrum of legality but now these authorized stores have the city permits and state permission to sell the drug. They did a lot of selling on New Year’s Day.

The Washington Post has a nice bird’s-eye view of the brand-new era of legal marijuana here: “an edgy, sexy industry has become beholden to reams of regulations and compliance issues — in other words, marijuana has become just another business in California, except that it remains illegal federally… The change has not been easy, and some feel in limbo as the cannabis industry, which has been valued at between $5 billion and $7 billion, starts to take form.”

The Post notes that “in San Diego, which has fully embraced the marijuana business, facilities must be at least 1,000 feet from parks and child-care facilities. Neighboring National City has banned all cannabis businesses.”

Governor’s Clemency Lowers a Prison Term

“A San Diego man who was serving 70 years to life in prison had his sentence cut to eight years by Gov. Jerry Brown, who slashed the term over the objections of local prosecutors,” the U-T reports.

The man, 33, apparently had never committed a violent crime. But a series of burglaries and other crimes landed him a virtual life sentence under the state Three Strikes Law, which has since been changed so criminals without violent records would face less risk of a life behind bars.

The local district attorney’s office said the man’s record and the fearfulness of one of his victims were reasons to not give him a break.

Imperial Beach Official Shot Dead

Doug Bradley, Imperial Beach’s city treasurer and administrative services director, was shot to death last Thursday in the Mexican resort town of Ixtapa, the U-T reports. Bradley, 49, may have been killed in a robbery.

An avid surfer, he lived in Tijuana and was looking into buying beachfront property in Mexico.

Quick News Hits: The Original Vegan Californian?

• “Immigrants in detention in San Diego are suing a private prison company, alleging exploitation and forced labor that their attorneys say breaks human trafficking laws,” the U-T reports.

The lawsuit targets the treatment of immigrants Otay Mesa Detention Center, saying they “are paid at most $1.50 per day, and sometimes not paid at all, for their work as kitchen staff, janitors, barbers and various other roles,” and they must pay for necessities like soap. The company declined to comment.

• The folks at Lyft say the most “most visited” restaurant among its clients in San Diego is Urban Mo’s in Hillcrest, and the most visited bar is PB Shore Club. (Times of S.D.)

• The L.A. Times has a roundup of laws that are taking effect. The paper also notes that “California’s first vegetarian gets a formal title: Augustynolophus morrisi, a plant eater whose fossils have only been found in the Golden State, is now the official state dinosaur.”

Fun fact: Nobody liked to talk to the Augustynolophus morrisi at parties because, like so many Californians, it kept going on and on about not eating meat.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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