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Along Fifth Avenue

Ladies and gentlemen, print is not dead. The following publications were available in print, for free, from drop boxes and coffee shops along Fifth Avenue over the two blocks between Washington and Robinson on a recent Tuesday morning:

Déjà Vu Showgirls News, 8 pages. Page 1 story: “Hustler Club Las Vegas Gala Grand Opening,” by Trace A. Grundstrom.

The Espresso, 10 pages. Page 1 story: “SOHO Looks Out for the Ladies: Save Our Heritage Organization Works to Save San Diego’s Architectural History with a Rear-Guard Action Against Developers Seeking to Shape the City for Their Own Gain,” unsigned.

San Diego Troubadour: Alternative Country, Americana, Roots, Folk, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, and Bluegrass Music News, 16 pages. Page 1 story: “Claudia Russell Takes the Jazz Ride Home,” by Paul Hormick.

16 Rounds to Samadhi, 24 pages. Cover story: “Delineation of the Bhakti Marga: The Road of Devotion, aka Say No to Spiritual Prostitution,” by Giriraj Gopal Dasa.

Peta’s Go Vegetarian, Go Vegan! starter kit, 24 pages. “Everything you need to eat right for your health, for animals, and for the earth.”

The Presidio Sentinel, 24 pages. Page 1 story: “The Last Kennedy: End of an Epoch?” by George Mitrovich.

Gay San Diego, 32 pages. Page 1 story: “No Blueprint for Grief: New Group Helps LGBT Community Deal With Loss, Caring for the Terminally Ill,” by Dave Schwab.

Night & Day Weekly Entertainment Guide, 32 pages. Cover story: “December Nights: San Diego Shakes Things Up With Its Biggest Bash of the Holiday Season,” by Nina Garin.

San Diego Uptown News, 32 pages. Page 1 story: “Toyland Parade Making a Comeback,” by Lauren Ventura.

San Diego CityBeat, 36 pages. Cover story: “Donna Is Leaving the Building: Iconic City Councilmember Donna Frye Reflects on a Wild Decade in San Diego Politics,” by David Rolland.

San Diego LGBT Weekly, 36 pages. Cover and most of the interior articles focus on gays in the military and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Natural Awakenings: Healthy Living, Healthy Planet, 48 pages. “Feel good, live simply, laugh more.”

Vision Magazine: Catalyst for Conscious Living, 48 pages. “Daily Living” issue.

Pacific San Diego, 76 pages. Cover story: “New Year’s Eve: What to Wear…and Where,” photography by Brevin Blach.

Rage Monthly, 90 pages. Cover story: “A Fall Excursion into Bernardo Winery,” photography by Robert Mrazek.

944 San Diego, 114 pages. Cover story: “Smart Luxury: The Green Gift Guide.”

San Diego Reader, 148 pages. Cover story: “Our Desperate Neighbors,” by Craig D. Rose.

— Matthew Lickona

Vote Yes for Prop VOSD

In late October, Voice of San Diego launched a fund-raising campaign themed around election season. The campaign encouraged supporters to “Vote Yes for Prop VOSD.” For a minimum $35, donors could vote to direct their money to support coverage of government, education, or the arts or to support technology needs. Each donation counted as one vote, although for the indecisive, a donation of $105 allowed a vote for all three beats.

“To meet our goals,” the explanation on Voice’s website read, “we’re seeking at least 50 separate donations for each of the three news beats.”

Government coverage was the first to reach the target. Education soon followed. On the same day that Voice sent a second email blast to supporters, arts coverage received its 50th vote. The following day, so did technology. The whole campaign took two weeks.

Voice chief executive Scott Lewis is not discouraged that arts, the newest of the three beats, was the last to get 50 votes.

“We were just hoping to be able to attract 50 donations for it,” he says, “and we did. To get that initial reaction after only having an art section for barely two months is an indication of how many people want to support arts coverage. Now we can show sponsors and larger donors that people are really excited about it.”

Each quarter, Voice holds a themed fund-raiser. The choose-how-to-spend-my-money campaign, says Lewis, was “by far our most successful as far as response.”

— Elizabeth Salaam

Is the U-T Brokering the Deal?

The Union-Tribune may have a new look, but its editorials on the South Bay are cut from the same old patronizing cloth. On Sunday, November 21, editors informed Chula Vistans that Mayor Cheryl Cox has commissioned David Malcolm to hold secret meetings on the city’s behalf. The subject? Cleaning up the contaminated soil under the soon-to-be-demolished South Bay Power Plant. Déjà vu. In 2003, Malcolm was convicted of felony conflict of interest (his record has been expunged) because while serving as a port commissioner he was also working as a consultant for a port tenant, the power company — same power plant, different company.

The secret talks, the editorial goes on to say, “have led to a potential arrangement under which Dynegy [the plant’s current operator] would turn the entire problem over to Chula Vista along with accumulated funds of $72 million to pay for the work.”

County supervisor Greg Cox and his wife Cheryl have an abiding friendship with Malcolm. Now Mayor Cox in her lame-duck years is resuscitating him, and the U-T seems to be brokering the deal. “We share some of the port’s discomfit about something arranged secretly by someone with a checkered past,” the editor writes. “But Malcolm has fulfilled his sentence.”

Last year, an October 4, 2009 U-T editorial titled “Chula Vista’s Back Room” announced: “Gone are the days of solid control by the coalition of Greg Cox, Steve Peace and David Malcolm.”

Not so fast. The recent editorial blithely suggests, “Mayor Cox on a ceremonial first bulldozer knocking down the power plant fence? It might make sense.”

— Susan Luzzaro

Flo TV

“Watch your favorite shows on your phone,” read a pitch on Qualcomm’s website for its mobile television service, Flo TV. Available since 2007, but only to certain models of AT&T and Verizon phones, Flo sought new customers in October 2009 when it began selling a mobile TV device.

But in July 2010, the company announced that disappointing revenues had prompted it to shop the business or find a partner. The frequency spectrum for Flo TV, which broadcasts only 20 channels at most, including CNN Mobile, Discovery Mobile, and Comedy Central, cost Qualcomm $683 million. Additional requirements pushed the investment closer to $800 million.

Two months ago, Flo announced that it would stop selling Flo TV and that service to current subscribers would end in March 2011.

David Tanny, who publishes sandiegoradionews.com, assessed the problem. “Customers just didn’t see [Flo’s] small lineup…worth paying for,” he wrote in an email. “With some 1000 channels on broadband cable and satellite, smart phones, internet TV, streaming TV websites, and other ways to get cable TV shows into a screen, Flo TV was left without a use for its customers.”

What might Qualcomm have done differently? 

Flo TV, which has a trustworthy array of transmitters, Tanny wrote, “could offer free relaying of the local TV channels (TV stations would help to pay for this) to help fill in numerous signal gaps their digital TV stations may not reach. Back before the conversion from analog to digital terrestrial TV, people in outlying areas could get a usable TV signal, though it [might] be snowy or scratchy.”

When the transition to digital took place, says Tanny, who lives in the backcountry, ten miles east of Mount Miguel, he lost home reception of two channels and still can’t get Channel 8. The digital TV signal “has a cliff effect: you either get a perfect picture or nothing. No in-between reception.”

When driving around, “it’s impossible,” Tanny continued, to receive “a digital TV signal, which freezes every few seconds, and sometimes goes in and out.”

So Flo TV might be more attractive if the local channels were given the use of its channel space. “If Qualcomm can’t do it,” wrote Tanny, “someone else (like AT&T, Google, even Clear Channel) might give it a shot.”

— Joe Deegan

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